Oct 6, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
These three new books devote only brief attention to PHEVs, but all are important -- and are notable for the diverse backgrounds of their authors. After our descriptions, we add some more about Thomas Friedman's book that, as expected, has zoomed to the top of the best-seller lists. Find info on 18 books on PHEVs plus five other favorites, as well as links to order them (giving us a few pennies of referral fees) at http://www.calcars.org/books.html
"STRATEGIES FOR THE GREEN ECONOMY: Opportunities and Challenges in the New World of Business," is by Joel Makower, longtime cleantech author and consultant whose blog, Two Steps Forward, has increasingly featured plug-in cars, including "The Greening of Mobility" http://makower.typepad.com/joel_makower/2008/10/the-greening-of.html , GM's Second Century http://makower.typepad.com/joel_makower/2008/09/general-motor-1.html and "GM and the New Plug-In Infrastructure" http://makower.typepad.com/joel_makower/2008/07/gm-and-the-new.html . (He discloses that companies he works with have relationships with GM.) Makower can be counted on to give full play to multiple points of view on controversies about corporate greenwashing or carbon offset providers. This new book has a chapter, "Changing the Conversation at GM," that in four pages describes the company's journey from its "Live Green, Go Yellow" promotion of corn ethanol to the Chevy Volt. He memorably quotes GM VP for Environment, Energy and Safety Policy Beth Lowery saying ""we share [with environmental groups] the idea that consumers have a role to play." He describes his new book at http://makower.typepad.com/joel_makower/2008/09/strategies-for.html .
"CLEAN CAR WARS: How Honda and Toyota are Winning the Battle of the Eco-Friendly Autos" by long-time business journalist Yozo Hasegawa is a translation by Tony Kimm of a Japanese book that ably tells the story of the development of hybrid cars in the past ten years. Buy it for that, not for its reporting on plug-in cars. Completed in November 2007, it simply adds a hasty two pages about the Chevy Volt and the Ford-Southern California Edison partnership on PHEV development at the end of a chapter on "Other Green Alternatives."
"DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW, PAY LESS: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving our Energy Crisis" by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, is not as single-minded as it sounds. He favors everything: gas, oil, coal, wind, solar, biofuels and nuclear energy. In a two-page section called "Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Vehicles," he clearly recognizes the benefits of PHEVs. (Quibbles: he seems to think they're not quite ready for prime time, and he mistakes the Volt for an EV.) We're glad he's supporting plug-in cars here's what he says:
We're on the verge of a technological breakthrough with plug-in hybrids that could significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. While standard hybrids run on both gasoline and electricity, a plug-in hybrid can travel much further purely on electricity. Because half of Americans don't drive their cars more than thirty-five miles per day, a plug-in hybrid that could run on electricity for thirty-five miles would free millions of Americans from the cost of gasoline nearly every day.
It's also much cheaper to drive a mile on electricity than on gas. Usually, an American driving a plug-in hybrid could expect each mile of electricity to cost one to three pennies compared to twenty cents with gasoline. And because many Americans have garages with electric sockets, plug-in hybrids don't require any real changes in our infrastructure. That's an important consideration that often gets left out of many energy discussions; the more an energy source can use the existing proven infrastructure, the cheaper and faster it can be deployed.
General Motors intends to have a fully electric vehicle that uses no gasoline, called the Chevy Volt, ready for production by 2010. Other carmakers such as Toyota are now competing to create the highest quality plug-in hybrid at the lowest price.
MORE ABOUT "HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDED: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America," Thomas Friedman's book new book. Three updates:
- It's very well reviewed in a two-page review in the Sunday NYT Book Review http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/books/review/Freedland-t.html?ref=books by Jonathan Freedland, an editorial page columnist for The Guardian. The review compares Hot, Flat and Crowded to "books or films that have stirred people from their slumber and awoken them to the fragility of the planet: Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," Bill McKibben's "End of Nature" and, most recently, Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." and says "it conceivably just might goad America's wealthiest to face the threat of climate change and do something about it." The review's favorite part: "In the book's most arresting passage, Friedman plays futurist and looks ahead - to "20 E.C.E." - imagining a world where an Energy Internet puts each one of your home appliances in touch with the power company, drawing out only the minimal power it needs to function and at the cheapest, off-peak times. Even your car, by now a plug-in hybrid that gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon, can charge its battery with solar power, which it then sells back to the grid."
- When we discussed the book Sept. 9 in CalCars-News at http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/996.html we didn't describe the "futurist" section. Starting on page 224, it elegantly imagines a grid-connected world. If you want to explain to someone how the world could change, these 12 pages do it better than anything else we've read.
- You can also read reviews that include some criticism in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/04/AR2008090402639_pf.html and at USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/money/books/reviews/2008-10-05-hot-flat-crowded-friedman_N.htm and others are at the author' website, http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/hot-flat-and-crowded .