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SF Plug-In Vehicle Bonanza:Watch Video, Read About It
Feb 24, 2009 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Last week marked another spectacular move forward in the San Francisco Bay Area's plan to become the most receptive environment for plug-in vehicles. A few short weeks ago, the Mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland announced plans to make the Bay Area "Plug-In Capital of the U.S.," and the first charging stations went up in San Jose. Now San Francisco moved the ball forward yet again, establishing a Green Vehicles Showcase in front of City Hall in record time. At the same time, the City expanded the project. Cooperating carsharing companies now combines two kinds of displacement: petroleum with electricity AND individual car ownership with shared vehicles. Coulomb technologies announced new capabilities for fleets as well as individual drivers. And the city convened a first-ever meeting of major stakeholders in the region, plus automakers. Now CalCars brings you an inspiring 8-minute film showing the event. Below you'll find llinks and transcript of the video.

WHAT HAPPENED FEB. 18: The Mayor and City Administrator stepped on the gas: seven city agencies and departments got all the approvals and scheduling done to put this program together in a month. Over a year ago, Hourcar in the Twin Cities was the first to get a PHEV. Now San Francisco City Carshare got a Priusconversion by 3-Prong Power of Berkeley, and Zipcar got one from Hymotion . Coulomb Technologies­ installed three stations (one for each carshare service, one for the city's PHEVs -- sorry, no general public spots yet). Coulomb launched its new “Fleet Management Portal” including interactive charts that summarizing gasoline saved and greenhouse gases saved, displays of which vehicles are charging, which vehicles are fully charged, and which vehicles are overdue for charging, plus smartphone text messaging that alerts EV drivers when cars need charging, when they are fully charged, and when charging is interrupted.

The city followed up by hosting a very productive three-hour meeting, "Preparing the Bay Area for Plug-In Vehicles," assembling about 100 representatives from the nine-county Bay Area -- fleet managers, local and regional agencies and coordinating groups, utilities, companies and many others. Notably, eight large carmakers were in attendance: BMW, Ford, GM, Mercedes, Nisssan and Toyota. CalCars and Plug In America both got a chance to present updates. This group is working to create three working groups: government/private sector/advocacy for funding and policies. Kudos to Wade Crowfoot, Bob Hayden and Lauren Meredith from the Mayor's Office and the SF Departmernt of Environment for their work in making this happen!

VIDEOS: Chris Baldwin, ace cinematographer, has been CalCars' volunteer film maker for several projects, including documenting our 2006 Prius conversion at the first Maker Faire, which became a piece distributed widely by Treehugger and CurrentTV, and our submission to the Google/Brookings Institute, "CalCars Plug-In Hybrid Action Plan" -- you'll find links to both of those inside the blue box "favorites" at CalCars Audio & Video­audio-video.html . He's just outdone himself, speedily creating an informative and poetic seven-minute presentation of the essence of last week's press conference. This video marks an expansion for Chris, whose full-service work for banks, technology and health companies, etc. continues at Shoulder High Productions . Now he's “Telling Stories of Cultural and Environmental Sustainability” at Sustainability Media at

WATCH THE FILM AT:­showcase/­ (if it slows, pause it until it loads fully, then watch uninterrupted.) We've also provided a transcript, which will help immortalize some of what was said.


Mayor Newsom's guest blog­2009/­02/­18/­san-francisco-plugs-in-to-the-future-with-electric-vehicle-recharging-stations/­

Our photos from the event (use with CREDIT:­photos/­56727147@N00/­sets/­72157614049251389/­

Coulomb Technologies Press Release­press_releases/­release_20090218.php

Zipcar Press Release­auto/­20090218/­NY7240918022009-1.html

City Carshare Press Release­portal/­site/­google/­?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090218006074&newsLang=en

SOME MEDIA REPORTS­2009/­02/­19/­electric-vehicle-charging-stations-for-san-francisco/­­2009/­02/­18/­san-francisco-to-install-coulomb-electric-vehicle-charging-stations/­­greencaradvisor/­2009/­02/­update-on-san-francisco-chargers---the-ev-and-plug-in-hybrid-type.html­8301-11128_3-10167445-54.html

Look for future info on SF efforts at

Guest Blogger Laura Schewel at the GM Fast Lane on the Rocky Mountain Institute-initiated "Project Get Ready" (which includes CalCars and many other partners, and aims to equip communities everywhere to welcome plug-in cars):­archives/­2009/­02/­it_takes_a_village_to_raise_a_volt_how_community_readiness_can_accelerate_the_plug-in_revolution.html

READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW (thanks to volunteer Greg Willey); find other resources and links after that.

During the last few years in particular the last few months. There's been a national discussion and debate about what we can do for our automobile and our automobile industry. In the face of rising gas prices, rising emissions, failed companies, bailouts, all that national discussion, I think being here in San Francisco, instead of, maybe in addition to asking that question about what we can do for our automobile industry, we've been asking the other question, just as well, that is, what can the automobiles do for us?

PAT CADAM ­ GREEN GEARS: Hi I'm Pat Cadam from Pat's Green Garage and Green Gears and we're in downtown San Francisco in front of City Hall. The Mayor is about to introduce a charging infrastructure product that we helped coordinate here between Zipcar, City CarShare and City of San Francisco and Coulomb technologies who are supplying charging infrastructure. This is the beginning of what the mayor is calling, turning the Bay Area into the EV capital of the world.

FELIX KRAMER ­ CALCARS.ORG: Hi, I'm Felix Kramer founder of This is a moment I've been waiting for since 2002 and 2003, when I first starting talking to the people at the car share companies, saying this is going to come someday, we'd love you to endorse it now and watch it and wait for it and soon you'll be ready for it. A car share is a perfect model for a plug in hybrid, because it does two things. It uses a car most effectively with little gasoline, and it addresses the other issue, which is, we need to drive less and we need to drive fewer cars. It's a great combination of smart transportation and smart electrification.

BRENT O'BRIEN ­ CITY CARSHARE: If you think about the plug-in hybrid vehicle and the way that car sharing works. Car sharing is usually very short trips for very minimal amounts of time. So, as you use these and as our members use these, I think the net result will be that they will rarely have to fill up a gas tank because they're only using them for a couple of hours and a few miles so everything that will power them, hopefully, will be done through Coulomb's wonderful charging station there and that's going to be a real green and clean ride.

MARK NORMAN ­ ZIPCAR: We're here because we share the same goals as the mayor and my friends here at the podium. The chief one being carbon emissions reduction. We've got more than 250,000 members at Zipcar sharing more than 5,000 vehicles across North America and in Europe. I want to just say that studies have shown that each shared car takes about 15 cars off the road, so, those of you with your calculators out that's 82,000 vehicles we've removed since our inception in early 2000. And our car sharing members also drive less. Brent talked about C02 reduction on the part of car sharing members, and we've estimated that the emissions reductions from the combined Zipcar membership over the years is now approaching a million tons of C02 reduction. As much as we're proud of those facts though, the reality here today is that our members are still driving cars. So we want to look for ways to reduce those emissions even further.

We polled our membership in January and one of the things that they just resoundingly told us is that this is mainstream interest in this type of technology. It's not just the leading edge anymore, they're interested in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and alternate fuel solutions in general. The results from that survey were definitive, the overwhelming majority have said, we want to make a difference. Make it easy for us to drive the latest and greatest technology.

RICHARD LOWENTHAL ­ COULOMB TECHNOLOGIES : We're clearly proud to see our charging stations here in the streets of San Francisco and are struck by the commitment that the Mayor and the City have to cleaning up our air, fueling our cars on a fuel that we make here in the United States, and providing a low cost alternative to gasoline for the people of San Francisco.

COMMISSION: This is a wonderful opportunity for us to acknowledge that San Francisco has a very unique electric supply. The vehicles that you see here will, throughout the 2 year period of this pilot program, be fueled by greenhouse gas free hydroelectric power that the city and county of SF owns and operates, so more clean air, more clean power. Thank you all very much and thank you Mayor Newsome.

MAYOR NEWSOM - SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: Plug-in hybrids, this is the future, you know we said this a few weeks ago with hundreds of folks, Bobbie Kennedy Jr. We had the governors office here, right in the light court behind me at city hall. We're working with the 9 Bay Area counties to create a ubiquitous infrastructure so you have charging stations throughout the entire region so we deal with the limitation which is range.

We have partnerships that we're hoping to support. Not just partnerships with Coulomb but also Better Place and others that we're also advancing. We want to be the epicenter in the world of electric vehicle technology. We want to promote it we want to promulgate it and we want to say this to the auto manufacturers, “Enough is enough, I'm not for one interested in continuing to fund failure or to failure more efficiently. Hybrids are technology a decade old. Hybrids are not tomorrow's technology and if we're going to continue, and I say this with respect because I know some of these folks are here. If you're going to ask for another 17 plus billion dollars from the taxpayers. That's money that comes out of the hands and pockets of folks that are at St. Anthony's dining room, and Glide Memorial church or at the SF food bank, that don't have those dollars. If you're going to continue to do that then it's time for real change, not marginal change. It's time to increase fuel standards dramatically.

Why is it that the European Union and China are so far ahead of the United States on fuel standards? Why is it that we're sitting here and you're interested in a story about a few plug-in electric hybrid cars. It should be, from my perspective a big deal with a question mark and an exclamation point. But it is a big deal just with an exclamation point because we're not doing enough of this. I love our Big 3 automobile manufacturers because they create jobs and opportunity and have for generations. I thank them for making the economy for what I remember it was before Lehman Day in September. We refer to it as Lehman's day in September. But we can be so much more and so much better but we need your support and we need your willingness to change dramatically. And so that's the final spirit to which I'm here and hopeful and thankful to those that have brought us to this showcase today.

DAVE BARTHMUSS ­ GENERAL MOTORS: I think one thing that we all have to agree on is that we can't be 98% reliant on a single source of energy to power our vehicles, right now that's petroleum. For many reasons, for energy independence, for climate change issues, and to transform our company at General Motors at least from one that for the last hundred years has been based on mechanically driven products towards one that will eventually be based on electrically driven products. We definitely have to transform and change the way we do business, we get it. And electric vehicles such as these are the way to do it.

PAUL GUZYK ­ 3 PRONG POWER: I think it's great that the city of San Francisco to showcase this technology and also give the members of the public a chance to test drive it. Some people have questions about the technology. They can become a members of City CarShare or Zipcar and try out the technology.

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