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About the CalCars Initiative

The California Cars Initiative ( is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup of entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and consumers promoting 100+MPG plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Somewhat uniquely, we're ourselves a hybrid, focusing both on public policy and technology development, and harnessing buyer demand to help commercialize PHEVs. We're building demand among highly receptive markets to encourage auto makers to produce 100+MPG "no-sacrifices" high-performance, clean hybrid cars.

After over a year of informal discussions and evolving strategies, CalCars got started at a knOwhere
Design Shop? brainstorming session in Palo Alto, 29 July 2002.

We built the first PRIUS+ conversion Sept 11-22, 2004, starting with an initial lead-acid
battery pack to prove it worked. Pictured are (L-R) Ron Gremban, Felix Kramer, Marc Geller,
Kevin Lyons, Andrew Lawton. Others who helped included Tom Driscoll, Michael Geller,
Richard Jesch, Les Montavon, Dan Putman, Michael Schwabe, Len Tramiel, Bob Westman,
Doug Widney.

See more photos or download our "Commercializing Plug-In Hybrids" presentation (2MB PDF) for more photos and an overview of the CalCars' story.

Some of the People Involved


Founder Felix Kramer is a marketing strategist and communicator with an entrepreneurial track record with startups; in the environmental realm, he has managed major events and run campaigns and organizations. After founding, running and selling a small Internet company, beginning in 2001 he volunteered his time to CalCars. In April 2006 he became the world's first non-technical consumer owner of a plug-in hybrid. See Kramer Communications and Felix Kramer Bio, his Feb. 14, 2005 OpEd on global warming, Kyoto and Beyond. and Power, Plugs and People, his 2005-2006 blog. A Cornell graduate, he lives with his wife and son in Silicon Valley.

Ron Gremban, Technology Development Lead for PRIUS+, Ron Gremban, Technology Lead for CalCars, led the team that, in 2004, created the world's first plug-in Prius, a car that he still drives daily. He then put the instructions into the public domain by co-founding the Electric Auto Association Plug-In Hybrid project. These and many subsequent advocacy and technical activities focused on the now-successful effort to get auto manufacturers to begin mass producing plug-in vehicles. He and CalCars now work to accelerate oil reductions by more than 50% in a decade by converting into PHEVs and EVs millions of the biggest gas-guzzlers on our roads. A Corte Madera resident, he also consults on plug-in, battery, and electric airplane startups. An electrical and software engineer previously involved in solar energy system sales and design, he has long experience with electric cars - he helped design and drive the Caltech entry in the 1968 transcontinental Great Electric Car Race.


Michael Bender, Webmaster, studied physics and computer science in school, which instilled a true appreciation of both energy and efficiency. Add a concern over related global issues and occasional use of a plug-in hybrid wheelchair (manual and electric), and his joining CalCars as a volunteer became inevitable.

Randy Reisinger, Senior Advisor on strategic directions and manager of CalCars' conversion projects. His background includes Computer Sciences Corporation, Xerox PARC, Regis McKenna, and product line management for Apple's IIe computer. He co-founded and was COO of Bargain America Inc., the first e-commerce company to sell American products to Japanese consumers.

We list and thank the translators of each language on the "What Carmakers Are Saying" page of each language.

Key Advisors

Andy Frank, Director, advanced hybrid vehicle research center (which has built 9 plug-in hybrid proof-of-concept vehicles), Professor, University of California at Davis; see a 2003 interview in EVWorld, part 1 and part 2 and a 2006 Wall Street Journal profile.
Jim Hurd, advising on partnerships and strategy; Director of Molecular Business and Founder/Director, Nanoscience Exchange.
Daniel M. Kammen, Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, Professor, UC Berkeley, leading expert on renewable energy and climate change mitigation policy.
Gail Slocum, Senior Advisor, former Mayor, Menlo Park and Regulatory Attorney at Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
Sven Thesen, electric utility analyst, chemical/environmental engineer, new parent.

Owners and Advocates of Electric Vehicles

We are helped and advised by the entire EV community,including many members of the Electric Auto Association and the groups working to keep the remaining electric cars on the roads instead of being "recycled" (Don'tCrush), resolved by Toyota's welcome decision to allow the cars to be purchased by their leaseholders. The group became PlugInAmerica. Notable advisors:

Marc Geller, San Francisco-based electric vehicle owner, Co-Founder of Plug In America, and a representative of Energy Efficiency Solar for commercial and residential photovoltaic cell installations in Northern California. His blog is Plugs and Cars.
Greg Hanssen, co-founder of EDrive Systems, commmercializing Lithium-Ion conversions of PRIUS+ (see vehicles). Also co-founder, EnergyCS, engineer with long experience in hybrid, electric and fuel cell power systems, and co-chair of Production EV Drivers Coalition.
Paul Scott, Santa Monica-based electric vehicle owner, Co-Founder of Plug In America, works in the visual effects industry on feature films, and represents Energy Efficiency Solar for commercial and residential photovoltaic cell installations in Southern California.

Other Initiators and Early Advisors

Jim Motavalli, Editor, E/The Environmental Magazine, the independent national bi-monthly, and author of Forward Drive: The Race to Build Clean Cars for the Future.
David Taggart, President of Interleaf Composites Engineering, metallurgical engineer, advanced composite materials expert, co-founder and former Chief Technology Officer, Hypercar (now Fiberforge), former Lockheed Skunkworks Project Manager.
Matt Taylor, Founder & CEO, M.G.Taylor, helping to catalyze startups and transform business environments.
Michael Tsou, CEO, New Paradigm Group, a Michigan engineering service company, former Assistant Chief Engineer, Cadillac, Director of Engineering Manufacturing and Testing, Pontiac, Supervisor of Engine Research and Emissions Control, GM Research Labs.

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