Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Right Here, Right Now

The Fall edition of the EPRI Journal has a feature story called

The Plug In Hybrid Vehicle: Beyond Gasoline
by Lucy Sanna

Here is the PDF.

The Story In Brief

As automakers gear up to satisfy a growing market for fuel-efficient hybrid electric vehicles, the next generation hybrid is already cruising city streets, and it can literally run on empty.

The Plug-In hybrid charges directly from the electricity grid, but unlike its electric vehicle brethren, it sports a liquid fuel tank for unlimted driving range.

The technology is here, the electricity infrastructure is in place, and the plug-in hybrid offers a key to replacing foreign oil with domestic resources for energy independence, reduced CO2 emissions, and lower fuel cost. "


On the issue of advanced battery technology, the EPRI story says,

"The Production cost of NiMH and Li-Ion batteries presents a key challenge to the marketability of PHEVs. As production volume increases, however, costs will come down with the introduction of automated manufacturing lines and economies of scale.

The cost effective tipping point is at about 100,000 battery packs annually.

With roughly 16 million new cars sold in the United States every year, once auto manufactures commit to the PHEV, that tipping point should be easily reached."

Plug Ins can begin to reduce our dependence on foreign imports.

Here, Now.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

No Hostage to Oil

photo from hymotion

President Bush continued his efforts to raise the awareness of Plug-in hybrids in his Saturday radio address and in his stops on Monday.

Here is part of the Reuters Story.

Bush: U.S. must not be 'hostage' to foreign oil
Monday 20 February 2006
By Tabassum Zakaria

MILWAUKEE, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The United States must reduce its dependence on oil from foreign countries that can hold it hostage, President George W. Bush said on Monday as he tried to revive an agenda obscured by controversy over Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident.

"Some of the nations we rely on for oil have unstable governments or fundamental differences with the United States," Bush said in a speech at the start a two-day swing through Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado.

"These countries know we need their oil and that reduces influence. It creates a national security issue when we're held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us," he added, without naming the countries. "


Bush toured a Johnson Controls Inc. battery development center and looked at two hybrid SUVs before speaking at a company headquarters in Milwaukee.

Bush said he envisioned a future in which a plug-in hybrid car could drive 40 miles (64 km) on a lithium-ion battery, then stop at a filling station for ethanol, a fuel usually made from corn. The trip wouldn't require a drop of oil, he said.

In his State of the Union address last month, Bush said the United States must break an addiction to Middle East oil. He has called for improving alternative-fuel technology to reduce U.S. oil imports from the region by 75 percent by 2025."


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Friday, February 17, 2006

Ford Executive Talks Plug-Ins


EV World and Autoblog posted this story today.

This is a major announcement from a major manufacturer.

Ford Europe Executive Calls
for Increased Momentum
Behind CO2 Reduction
Ford Motor Co.
Feb 17, 2006

SYNOPSIS: Lewis Booth acknowledged the importance of climate change and the responsibility to take action, calling for greater support for a more holistic approach to the challenges raised by sustainable mobility.

Ford Motor Company has today spoken about its "mindset" change in tackling CO2 emissions from vehicles, and has called for greater support from all key stakeholders – vehicle manufacturers, customers, national governments, fuel suppliers and the European Commission – in adopting a more integrated approach to reducing CO2 from vehicles.

Ford's approach to sustainability is based on science and the recognition from a growing body of scientific evidence indicating that man-made CO2 emissions are starting to significantly influence the world's climate.

"If we are to stabilise climate change and avert a potential catastrophe, we need to stabilise concentrations of atmospheric CO2 at acceptable levels," said Mr Booth. "The debate continues, but experts broadly agree that we need to stabilise long-term CO2 concentrations at 550 parts per million, perhaps even lower.

"The scale of the challenge means that it's not enough to introduce two or three new environmental products and leave it at that. At Ford, we are fundamentally reassessing the way we do business, putting sustainability at the heart of everything we do.

"That requires nothing less than a complete and radical change of mindset: not only for Ford Motor Company, where we are undergoing this transformation, but for the whole auto industry."

"These solutions include: clean diesel; advanced direct injection gasoline; weight stabilisation and reduction; alternative fuel vehicles (AFV), including flexible-fuel vehicles and developing superior AFV technologies; hybrid powerpacks and research into plug-in hybrid technology; hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE); and hydrogen fuel cells."

Ford is changing.

As is the World.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Earth Policy Institute Joins

"Sustaining our early twenty-first century global civilization now depends on shifting to a renewable energy-based, reuse/recycle economy with a diversified transport system.

Business as usual - Plan A — cannot take us where we want to go. It is time for Plan B, time to build a new economy and a new world."

So writes Lester Brown, President of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, a member of the Plug in Partners Coalition.

Plan B has three components.

The first is a restructuring of the global economy so that it can sustain civilization. The second is an all-out effort to eradicate poverty, stabilize population, and restore hope in order to elicit participation of the developing countries. And the third is a systematic effort to restore natural systems.

Hybrids of the future

For the U.S. automotive fuel economy, the key to greatly reducing oil use and carbon emissions is gas-electric hybrid cars. The average new car sold in the United States last year got 22 miles to the gallon, compared with 55 miles per gallon for the Toyota Prius.

If the United States decided for oil security and climate stabilisation reasons to replace its entire fleet of passenger vehicles with super-efficient gas-electric hybrids over the next 10 years, gasoline use could easily be cut in half. This would involve no change in the number of cars or miles driven, only a shift to the most efficient automotive propulsion technology now available.

Beyond this, a gas-electric hybrid with an additional storage battery and a plug-in capacity would allow us to use electricity for short distance driving, such as the daily commute or grocery shopping. This could cut U.S. gasoline use by an additional 20 per cent, for a total reduction of 70 per cent.

Then if we invest in thousands of wind farms across the country to feed cheap electricity into the grid, we could do most short-distance driving with wind energy, dramatically reducing both carbon emissions and the pressure on world oil supplies.

Using timers to recharge batteries with electricity coming from wind farms during the low demand hours between 1 and 6 a.m. costs the equivalent of 50 cents a gallon of gasoline. We have not only an inexhaustible alternative to dwindling reserves of oil, but an incredibly cheap one." more

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Frank Talk on Plug-Ins

photo EV World

Here is a new interview with Andy Frank from Washington Technology.

Survival Guide: Perspectives from the field
Washington Technology
Feb. 13, 2006

Andrew Frank, University of California at Davis
Mechanical engineering professor and researcher

Andrew Frank has spent much of the last 30 years studying electric motors and batteries to make vehicles more fuel-efficient. With the recent success of hybrid vehicles — more than 200,000 were sold in 2005 — Frank said the world is ready for what he thinks is the next logical step: plug-in hybrids.

Plug-in hybrids rely more on electricity; the batteries are charged at night using a standard household outlet. Because of this, they can get up to 100 miles per gallon of gasoline. And unlike electric-only vehicles, if a plug-in hybrid’s batteries are drained, the car simply switches over to gas power.

More than 10 cities, public power utilities, businesses and national policy groups have launched Plug-In Partners, a campaign to promote the technology. Frank spoke recently with Staff Writer Doug Beizer about plug-in hybrid technology and car fuel economy.

WT: What is a plug-in hybrid vehicle?

Frank: It takes hybrid technology and makes it more efficient with a better transmission, bigger battery pack and smaller engine.

WT: Do computers play a role in this technology?

Frank: The computer in these isn’t much different than the computer being used in today’s hybrids. It just has a few more lines of code.

WT: Are there any cultural barriers to people adopting this technology?

Frank: Everybody who we have presented the concept to, including senators and congressmen and other public officials, have suddenly realized this is the only way we’re ever going to begin to transition from the oil diet that we’re on.

Because what we’re doing is using an existing energy infrastructure, we don’t have to build plugs; we’ve already got those. And there’s no need with this plug-in hybrid to charge quickly. You just charge at a slow rate, which means you can do it at 110 volts [a household plug].

With a fully electric car, if you don’t have a charge, you’re in trouble. With this car it doesn’t matter, because you always have the gasoline engine.

WT: For this to catch on, will car-makers need government funded fleet-vehicle contracts?

Frank: The best way to start this technology is to begin with the fleet. That was one of the reasons for our Plug-In Partners launch in Washington, to get fleet users from around the country to say to the car companies, “If you build it, we’ll buy it.”

WT: Any specific government applications for this?

Frank: Delivery van and truck fleets are perfect for this. It would be great for the Postal Service. When you think about it, most Postal Service vehicles drive only 50 miles a day. The kind of cars we have constructed can go 60 miles all on electric, so that means the whole Postal Service fleet could run on electricity.

WT: Based on the success Toyota has had with its hybrids, what do you think the future is for plug-in hybrid technology?

Frank: Any one of our car companies that decides to adopt this technology could have production vehicles in three years, because it is a relatively small modification of the existing technology. But you’re not going to start out by replacing 10 percent of the fleet at a time. You start replacing, at best, 1 percent of the fleet. Even if we begin at a tenth of a percent of the fleet of vehicles, or 50,000 cars a year, that would be a great step.

WT: What motivates you to pursue this technology?

Frank: I have always felt it was possible to build a car that gets more than 100 miles per gallon; it’s what this country needs. To build a car with high performance and all the fun factors of a conventional car, but have it run on electricity, which takes care of all the emissions problems and solves the energy problem, is really what this country needs. So I’ve been promoting this.

WT:Fully electric cars kind of fizzled out. Could the same happen with this?

Frank: No. Look at the first year of the Ford Escape hybrid. Ford is putting out 20,000, 10 times more than any electric car program ever put out. Bill Ford will up that from 20,000 to 250,000 a year.

That’s a serious commitment."

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Mayor Menino Adds Boston

Boston joins in the Plug-In Campaign.

By Mayor Thomas M. Menino
Guest Column
Thursday, February 2, 2006

Here is part of the Mayor's column.

"In addition, I joined mayors from across the country in a national effort to support the National Plug-in Hybrid Campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to demonstrate to automobile manufacturers that there is a market for flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles.

These vehicles take currently available gasoline-hybrid vehicles to the next level, allowing drivers to plug them in for a few hours to charge the batteries and then drive emissions free solely on electric power for 35-60 miles. The cost of charging the battery of a PHEV is estimated to be just 50-75 cents per gallon equivalent. Since most drivers travel short distances throughout our city, this new technology could significantly reduce local air emissions and save residents money."


Here is the list of City Partners as of today. We expect some more big ones soon.

Arlington, TX
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Boulder, CO
Corpus Christi, TX
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Fort Worth, TX
Irvine, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Madison, WI
Philadelphia, PA
Salt Lake City, UT
Seattle, WA
Wenatchee, WA

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Philadelphia Joins Coalition

The City of Philadelphia, where Independence was declared, has once again made it's voice clear by joining a growing list of cities, counties, environmental organizations, security organizations, electric utilities, and others who see that the flexible fuel plug-in is a here and now component of any future energy policy.
City of Philadelphia
Council of the City of Philadelphia

(Resolution No. 051211)
Supporting the development and purchase
of flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles.
WHEREAS, The over-reliance of America on foreign oil has become a growing and serious threat to the economic vitality and national security interests of the United States; and
WHEREAS, Automobile emissions are a major contributing factor to global warming and to smog in our cities, which threaten the health of our citizens and the sustainability of our planet; and
WHEREAS, The imbalance between gasoline resources and worldwide demand is escalating gasoline prices at an alarming rate and to levels that overburden commerce, hurt economic growth and cause serious hardship on our citizens; and
WHEREAS, The technology exists today to build a flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid electric automobile which would reduce oil imports, fuel costs to our citizens and our economy and air emissions by dramatic margins; and
WHEREAS, On November 1, 2005, pursuant to Resolution 050837, the Legislative Oversight Committee conducted a public hearing on whether the Office of Fleet Management’s vehicle purchasing policies should require a preference for the purchase of alternative fuel or hybrid-electric vehicles; and
WHEREAS, On January 24, 2006, the Plug-in Partners National Campaign, will be announced in Washington, D.C., to encourage the public and private sectors to promote the development and use of flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles; now therefore, be it
Makes a commitment to support local, state and federal policies to promote flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Council of the City of Philadelphia urges the Mayor to work with the government, education, business and environmental communities to advocate the development and purchase of flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles."

Monday, February 06, 2006

50,000 Fleet Vehicles Ordered

Suzuki Gran Vitara

At least, that is what Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times has suggested in his belief that Plug-Ins are today's answer to tomorrow's needs.

He also makes the point, that plug ins will provide more energy security and less global warming.

That is because electric fuel can be provided by renewable energy such as the wind.

Here is part of the NY Times editorial.

The full editorial is available to Times Select subscribers.

100-M.P.G. Cars: It's a Start
New York Times
by Nicholas Kristof
Feb. 5, 2006

Imagine if we could develop a passenger car that averaged more than 100 miles per gallon — or, if used only for short trips, 1,000 miles per gallon. What if it could cost the equivalent of only 75 cents a gallon to operate and needed to go to a filling station only every other month?

Surprise — we have all that technology today! We even have a handful of demonstration vehicles to prove it. All we lack is bold political and corporate leadership to put this technology in play immediately.

The cars I'm talking about are known as "plug-in hybrids." They are similar to hybrids like the Toyota Prius, but they have bigger batteries and at night would be plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet to charge the batteries.

They can be built to have a 30- to 50-mile range before the gasoline engine needs to be used at all. So for someone who commutes 15 miles each way to work and rarely takes long drives, a plug-in hybrid usually functions as an electric vehicle and relies on gas only on rare occasions.

"If you used it only locally, you would go to a gas station only a couple of times a year," said Felix Kramer, founder of, a nonprofit in Palo Alto, Calif., that converted a regular Prius to a plug-in hybrid. "This can be done right now. That's why people are so excited."


Another advantage is that plug-ins fit easily into the existing infrastructure, unlike cars fueled by hydrogen. At least at home, the infrastructure is as simple as an extension cord.

"None of this requires a Manhattan Project," notes James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director, an ardent fan of plug-in hybrids to achieve greater energy autonomy and stop subsidizing extremism and dictatorships in the Middle East. Now, he says, government incentives are needed so that auto companies take the financial risk of producing plug-in hybrids.


The Bush administration is backing the technologies that go into plug-in hybrids, but languorously. Instead, the U.S. should promise to order 50,000 fleet vehicles of the first viable plug-in hybrid — that would be just the stimulus the carmakers need.

Mr. Bush was forthright in acknowledging America's oil addiction, but he sometimes sounded like an addict who declares he's going to quit "tomorrow."

Let's start now. "

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Mayor Menino joins effort


Friday, February 03, 2006

Energizing America

One of the reasons that the President is using Plug-Ins in his stump speech is the support that Plug-ins have received from serious security minded folks like Frank Gaffney.

Here is a piece he wrote a week before the State of the Union.

Energizing America
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Jewish World Review
Jan. 24, 2006

One week from today, President Bush has an opportunity to make a truly historically significant State of the Union address. He can do so by setting forth a program for energy security that will play against type for a man from the "Oil Patch," by charting a course for setting America free of its dependence on oil. The time demands such leadership, the national security requires it and the American people deserve no less.

There are a number of compelling reasons for action: For starters, we in the United States, and industrialized world more generally, are funding both sides in the War for the Free World. On the one hand, since we consume far more oil than is available here at home, we are obliged to import most of what we need from abroad.

As a practical matter that means enriching with wealth transfers those who are the principal financiers of Islamofascist terror — notably, Saudi Arabia and Iran. And, on the other, we are paying vast sums to protect ourselves against such terror.

Secondly, we have a proven model for doing things differently. We have diversified sources to meet many of our energy needs (for example, coal, nuclear power, hydroelectric and biomass). Yet, our transportation sector remains reliant upon oil — sixty percent of it imported — for the gasoline and diesel fuel on which it runs almost exclusively.

This creates a dependency that is as unsustainable as it is strategically perilous, especially as the appetite for oil of our emerging rival, Communist China, continues to skyrocket.


Existing technology allows one other form of energy to serve as a transportation fuel: electricity.

Increasingly, American consumers are looking to hybrid vehicles to reduce their transportation operating costs. Those costs can be reduced far more if such vehicles' batteries can be charged by the electrical grid.

In some areas of the country, electricity can be purchased off-peak (that is, when most people would recharge their cars, as they presently do their laptops and cell-phones) for the equivalent of 24 cents per gallon. If the vehicle's engine is also flexible-fuel compatible, plug-in hybrids can get 500 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Interest in such plug-in hybrids is about to get a further boost, thanks to a national grassroots campaign being kicked off at the National Press Club today. Led by Austin, Texas — a place President Bush used to call home — and its public utility, Austin Energy, this initiative is backed by a coalition of cities and counties from across the country, some 100 power utilities, national security experts (including yours truly) and various public policy organizations.

The idea is to raise awareness about and demonstrate demand for plug-ins, while encouraging governments at all levels to provide incentives for manufacturers to meet that demand. (For more on this coalition, see


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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mayor Wynn Commends POTUS

Mayor Wynn Commends President Bush's Support
of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles and Biofuels;
Prescribes Treatment for ''Oil Addiction''

Houston Chronicle
By Business Editors(c)
2006 Business Wire
Feb. 2, 2006--

Austin Mayor Will Wynn, a leader in the national Plug-In Partners Campaign, commended President Bush for supporting the development of plug-in hybrid vehicles as part of his Advanced Energy Initiative developed to help America reduce its oil imports by 2025.

"The President's plan to accelerate research on battery technology is an important step in what needs to be a strong national mandate to put plug-in hybrid vehicles on American roads as soon as possible," said Austin Mayor Will Wynn, one of the leaders of the Plug-In Partners Coalition.

Already almost a dozen cities, over 100 public power utilities, businesses and a host of national policy groups have signed on to the "Plug-In Partners" campaign. Austin's template calls for cities to initiate citizen petition drives and to encourage government and businesses to issue "soft" orders or expressions of interest in purchasing plug-ins.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

President Plugs In

ev world

This is from the EV World Blog.

"Last week during the Plug-in Partners press conference, national security hawk Frank Gaffney, along with former-CIA chief Jim Woolsey and arch-conservative Senator Orin Hatch, called on the President to include flexible fuel and plug-in hybrids in his forthcoming State of the Union address to Congress, delivered last night.

And he did.

Now that's what I call clout.

Here are the relevant sections of Bush's address as expanded upon by today's official White House press release.

We Are On The Verge Of Dramatic Improvements
In How We Power Our Automobiles,

And The President's Initiative Will Bring Those Improvements To The Forefront. The United States must move beyond a petroleum-based economy and develop new ways to power automobiles.

The President wants to accelerate the development of domestic, renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuels. The Administration will accelerate research in cutting-edge methods of producing "cellulosic ethanol" with the goal of making the use of such ethanol practical and competitive within 6 years.

The Administration will also step up the Nation's research in better batteries for use in hybrid and electric cars and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen.

Developing More Efficient Vehicles.

Current hybrids on the road run on a battery developed at the DOE. The President's plan would accelerate research in the next generation of battery technology for hybrid vehicles and "plug-in hybrids."

Current hybrids can only use the gasoline engine to charge the on-board battery. A "plug-in" hybrid can run either on electricity or on gasoline and can be plugged into the wall at night to recharge its batteries. These vehicles will enable drivers to meet most of their urban commuting needs with virtually no gasoline use.

Advanced battery technologies offer the potential to significantly reduce oil consumption in the near-term.

The 2007 Budget includes $30 million – a $6.7 million increase over FY06 – to speed up the development of this battery technology and extend the range of these vehicles.