Dec 17, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Three developments we can't wait to tell you about: the first mass-production PHEVs; Barack Obama's plans to grow the economy based on clean technologies, and the Alliance For Climate Protection's expanded push for plug-in cars.
IT'S FINALLY HAPPENED: FIRST MASS-PRODUCTION PHEV ON SALE -- IN CHINA
The Chinese battery company BYD Group lives up to its name, "Build Your Dreams." This week it began selling a $22,000 PHEV with a huge 62-mile battery range (not 80 as misreported) to fleet customers in China. BYD hopes to sell 10,000 in a year, followed by European sales, with vehicles coming to the U.S. around 2011. The media took notice in September when Warren Buffet's MidAmerican Energy Holdings bought 9.9 percent of BYD for $232 million. The only negative analysts can point to is that the vehicle's "fit and finish" aren't up to US standards.
Green Car Congress describes the F3DM operating in three ways: "Full battery-powered EV mode; series-hybrid mode, in which an engine drives a generator as a range-extender; and parallel hybrid mode, in which the engine and motor both provide propulsive power." http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/12/byd-f3dm-plug-i.html . In Business Week, read "China's First Plug-In Hybrid Car Rolls Out: The infrastructure for running electric cars is not quite in place in China, but BYD Auto's plug-in has a lot to offer," by Frederik Balfour http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/dec2008/gb20081215_913780.htm
To gain an appreciation of BYD's global ambitious, here are excerpts about CEO Wang Chaunfu from The Financial Times "The quiet man of cars" by John Reed and Patti Waldmeir http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4d026264-a76d-11dd-865e-000077b07658.html.
Everyone agrees the world needs greener cars and Wang Chuanfu believes he is the man to deliver them - by combining Chinese brains and hard work with Warren Buffett's money. The quietly spoken Mr Wang says his goal is to make BYD the world's largest car company by 2025. "For new-energy cars, we believe we can become the global leader," he says. "From the technology standpoint, 10 years should be enough." He is positioning himself at the centre of the automotive industry's impending shift into plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries, a move due to bring some of the fastest technological changes in a century of automotive history. BYD employs 10,000 engineers, half of them working on cars, and Mr Wang says he will have 30,000 automotive engineers within a decade. His US and Japanese competitors cannot afford to hire so many, he says. "The cost is too high."
Thirteen years ago, when he founded the company, Mr Wang lacked even the capital to import an automated battery production line from Japan. Today his company is the world's largest producer of mobile phone batteries - with 30 per cent of the market - and the second-largest producer of rechargeable batteries to power electronic goods such as laptop computers. And perhaps even more surprisingly, BYD - which produced its first branded car in 2005 - sold more cars than any other Chinese carmaker in September. That monthly milestone, achieved largely through the launch of BYD's new F0 subcompact, is unlikely to be sustained in the near term; but JD Power, the leading auto consultancy, still expects BYD sales to grow by more than 50 per cent this year. He acknowledges BYD has a long way to go in building its brand to compete with foreign ones with decades of consumer awareness and marketing experience. On the other hand, he says, plug-in cars present a blank canvas of sorts. "We're talking new cars and everyone is starting from the same point," he says.
PEBO IS THE NEW ACRONYM FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: We'll be following the new administration's plans (send us any links you have to statements by energy/environment appointees Steven Chu, Carol Browner, Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley).
Meanwhile, Obama got his priorities right at the press conference where he introduced his new energy/environmental team http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/us/politics/15text-obama.html?pagewanted=4
QUESTION: How quickly does your administration intend to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions? And do you have any intention of reinstating the ban on off-shore oil drilling that expired a few months ago?
OBAMA: Well, both are items that my environmental team, as well as my energy team, are going to be reviewing in the weeks to come, but I think it is very important just to look at the history when it comes to the regulation of emissions in California. Consistently, California has hit the bar and then the rest of the country has followed. And rather than it being an impediment to economic growth, it has helped to become an engine of economic growth.
And one of the key points that I want to make at this press conference -- and I will repeat again and again during the course of my presidency -- is there is not a contradiction between economic growth and sound environmental practices. I think that the future of innovation and technology is going to be what drives our economy into the future. A new energy economy is going to be part of what creates the millions of new jobs that we need.
And that's why my economic recovery plan is going to be focused on, how can we make a series of down payments on things that we should have done 10 or 20 or 30 years ago but have delayed? And so we get a twofer: We get an immediate jumpstart to the economy and jobs that are immediately being created on things like a smart grid or working to make our buildings more energy efficient. And, at the same time, we're setting the path for long-term, sustained economic growth.
THE ALLIANCE FOR CLIMATE PROTECTION got a big boost when PEBO met with Al Gore, and after the meeting explicitly used the We Campaign's phrase, "Repower America" (referring to Gore's plan to get to a clean grid in 10 years), saying "We have the opportunity now to create jobs all across this country, in all 50 states, to repower America, to redesign how we use energy, to think about how we are increasing efficiency, to make our economy stronger, make us more safe, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and make us competitive for decades to come, even as we're saving the planet." See the video of Obama's remarks at http://www.repoweramerica.org/.
DON'T MISS REPOWER AMERICA'S 30-SECOND PLUG-IN AD: at http://www.repoweramerica.org/page/s/cleanenergyad watch a grizzled westerner plug in his pickup truck (no converter identified) in front of a wind farm. If you can't spare the time to watch it, here's the transcript: "Some people say the answer to our energy lies in the past....They want to burn more oil and more dirty coal. Problem is it burns carbon and carbon's gases are killing God's green earth. The future's over here....wind, sun, a new energy grid....Imagine. Plugging in your pick-up truck and driving all over hell's half acre on clean energy made right in here in America...The boys in Teheran might not like it. But in Tucson it goes down pretty good about now. Repower America. It's time to get real."
This follows the first steps we reported in CalCars-News in November: "Al Gore/Google/NRDC Choose Electricity & Plug-Ins: Videos & Quotes" and "Gore/Alliance for Climate Protection: All-In for Plug-Ins." And kudos to The Reality Coalition, a project of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters. In response to the coal industry's misleading use of "Clean Coal" by talking only about particulate emissions and pretending that carbon sequestration is achievable near-term, the coalition's effective and entertaining 30-second ad is all over TV and at http://www.thisisreality.org/.