Monday, September 25, 2006

Nissan Pushes the Plug

Here is another very encouraging development

Nissan to end Toyota hybrid tie-up
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Nissan Motor Co. will develop a new hybrid vehicle technology on its own, which would end a joint agreement with Toyota Motor Corp., sources said Friday.

The independently produced low-emission and fuel-efficient models will be released on 2010, the sources said.

In the wake of rising oil prices, demand for hybrid models has grown rapidly, leading Nissan to reconsider its previous stance of cooperating with Toyota on hybrid developments, the sources said.

The new compact car models will be equipped with a lithium-ion battery system and include a plug-in hybrid vehicle that can be recharged at home.

Compared with nickel-hydrogen batteries, which Toyota and Honda Motor Co. have used, the lithium-ion battery has more capacity and can be recharged more quickly.


Nissan had not embarked on full-scale mass production of hybrid cars since it wanted to wait and see which types of low-emission cars would come to dominate the market. The maker has released only hybrid minivans on a limited scale, but as hybrid car sales by Toyota and Honda have grown in Japan and the United States, Nissan decided it would lose market share unless it entered the market with its own models.

Toyota initially considered the joint venture as the best way to promote the use of hybrid vehicles, going as far as to provide its systems to a rival to help hybrid models become more mainstream.

With Nissan showing a serious intent to mass-produce hybrid cars on its own, competition among carmakers over developing low-emission vehicles likely will intensify. "

With this announcement along with the 3 billion dollar announcement by Richard Branson to fund solutions to climate change through the Clinton Initiative, the Plug-In strategy continues to gain support nationally and throughout the world.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Google Ogles Plug Ins

Here is a big development for PHEVs.

Philanthropy Google’s Way: Not the Usual

New York Times
Published: September 14, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 13 — The ambitious founders of Google, the popular search engine company, have set up a philanthropy, giving it seed money of about $1 billion and a mandate to tackle poverty, disease and global warming.

But unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes. One of its maiden projects reflects the philanthropy’s nontraditional approach.

According to people briefed on the program, the organization, called, plans to develop an ultra-fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity and gasoline.

The philanthropy is consulting with hybrid-engine scientists and automakers, and has arranged for the purchase of a small fleet of cars with plans to convert the engines so that their gas mileage exceeds 100 miles per gallon.

The goal of the project is to reduce dependence on oil while alleviating the effects of global warming. is drawing skeptics for both its structure and its ambitions.


Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, believe for-profit status will greatly increase their philanthropy’s range and flexibility. It could, for example, form a company to sell the converted cars, finance that company in partnership with venture capitalists, and even hire a lobbyist to pressure Congress to pass legislation granting a tax credit to consumers who buy the cars.

The executive director whom Mr. Page and Mr. Brin have hired, Dr. Larry Brilliant, is every bit as iconoclastic as Google’s philanthropic arm.


While declining to comment on the car project specifically, Dr. Brilliant said he would hope to see such ventures make a profit. “But if they didn’t, we wouldn’t care,” he said. “We’re not doing it for the profit. And if we didn’t get our capital back, so what?

The emphasis is on social returns, not economic returns.” (more)

And the momentum continues.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

P G & E Plugs Drive

P G & E plugs campaign for hybrid electric cars
Joshua Sabatini
The Examiner
Sep 5, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific Gas and Electric Co. wants its 5.1 million customers in California to pressure car manufacturers to mass-produce electric vehicles that can be plugged right into a standard home socket.

Within the next three weeks, PG&E customers will receive in their September bills an insert asking them to sign an online petition at, a Web site designed by Plug-In Partners — a national group lobbying automakers to manufacture Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

“We want to be a green company,” PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said, adding that the company “promotes and champions causes that are environmentally friendly.”

While one may argue PG&E stands to gain with PHEV vehicles in circulation, Smith countered that PG&E “wouldn’t make any money from it.”

“The amount of money we make in a given year is regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission,” he said. “There’s a ceiling on that. That’s why we always encourage our customers to conserve energy.”

Today’s hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, use electricity generated by gasoline-fueled engines. A PHEV would cut a consumer’s gas cost down to $0.75 per gallon, advocates say.

Car companies say the technology to produce PHEV vehicles is not advanced enough to make the cars affordable for the average consumer.

But Marc Geller, vice president of the San Francisco Electric Auto Association, believes car companies just do not want to incur the high cost of altering a 100-year-old practice of building cars with gas-fueled engines.

If automakers began producing PHEVs within the next few years, 2.5 million of them could hit the road by the year 2020, according to a study from the California Electric Transportation Coalition. This would result in a gasoline savings of 1.14 billion gallons a year, the report said.

“If I could buy a vehicle that was cheaper to operate, cleaner, ran on domestic electricity, and I could buy it from you for a few thousand dollars more, yes I would positively want to plug it in to a 120-volt outlet,” the petition says.

“The bottom line is, electricity is cleaner, cheaper and domestic,” Geller said.

“The technology is available today. This could be done immediately.”

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