PLUG OK license plate
How to Support Plug-In/Gas-Optional Hybrids & CalCars
Aug 15, 2005 (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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This message, coming to CalCars News Subscribers by email, is also archived at:­group/­calcars-news/­message/­105

We're receiving a deluge of email including many complimentary letters, from people asking what they can do. Here are few things:

  • Spread the word. We encourage all to forward the SUMMARY BELOW to your email contact list, and email or print out and mail or hand out some of the PDF documents listed at­faq.html
  • If you can connect us to high-wealth individuals who "get" what we're about, we have very ambitious plans with extraordinary opportunities. I'm sure if we can raise substantial funds, we'll have an institutional and media impact that far eclipses what so far we've achieved..
  • Similarly, we could use celebrity endorsements and supporters.
  • If you're wired in with people who make fleet purchase decisions at companies or in government, tell them about CalCars and send us their contact info
  • If you know two special categories: serial entrepreneurs and auto industry veterans interested in a unique new opportunity: see basic info about our QVM strategy at­sjmercury-vcinsider+calcars-opportunity.pdf
  • If you want to contact Toyota to tell them you'd like a Prius or other Toyota/Lexus/Scion GO-HEV, we suggest you contact your local dealer, and feel free to send a copy of any email you write to priusplus@....

And one more IMPORTANT WAY: Along with the email we're receiving donations, most at the $95 Charter Sponsor level.

We've never asked the CalCars-News subscribers for contributions, but if you haven't contributed yet, your doing so at this time will help us reach our education and advocacy goals, move on to new conversions and demonstrate the depth of support for PHEVs/GO-HEVs to automakers and others.

Any amount is welcome. It's tax-deductible -- and easy to do with a credit card, PayPal or Check at­support.html

Thanks for everything!

Below is a quick background summary on CalCars, Gas-Optional or Plug-In Hybrids, PRIUS+ and Felix Kramer.

The California Cars Initiative ( is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup. We're a group of entrepreneurs, engineers and other citizens promoting high-efficiency, low-emission cars and harnessing buyer demand to help commercialize advanced technologies. Somewhat uniquely, we focus both on public policy and technology development. Formed in 2002, our efforts for "100+MPG hybrids" began to be noticed in early 2005 when we were covered in The New York Times, Business Week, TIME, Newsweek, National Public Radio, etc. (See­kudos.html for print, audio and video clips.)

We're demonstrating the immediate opportunity and benefits of what are variously called "gas-optional or plug-in" hybrids (GO-HEVs or PHEVs). The next generation of hybrid cars can be based entirely on existing components. They're basically like some current hybrids but with larger batteries and the ability to re-charge conveniently, so local travel is electric, yet the vehicle has unlimited range. While hybrids may cut gasoline use by on-third, PHEVS can cut out another third. We see it as the future pathway to multi-fuel and biofuel PHEVs -- the cars that get 500 MPG of gasoline that people are talking about. And for advocates of fuel cells, PHEVs make hydrogen cars more affordable by reducing the size of the fuel cell stack and the amount of hydrogen stored.

We began with a prototype conversion we call "PRIUS+" to bring attention to plug-in hybrids and encourage car makers to build them. We "green-tuned" a stock 2004 Prius by adding batteries and grid-charging. (We replaced the battery control system but didn't modify the hybrid controls.) Our proof-of-concept used lead-acid batteries. We document our effort at our open-source-style technology discussion group at (see chronology from June 2004-May 2005 at

EDrive Systems LLC, a for-profit integration company in Southern California (, installed even better lithium packs to get 100+MPG (plus costs of electric power). EDrive intends to begin selling PRIUS+-style retrofits in early 2006, with a goal of pricing conversions at $10-$12,000. At­group/­calcars-news/­message/­37 on May 2 we explained how our efforts intersect. View their Frequently Asked Questions at­Edrive-FAQ.html .

We're also involved in advocacy and public policy, bringing together the growing attention given to this "up-and-coming" technology (see our roundup at­kudos.html). We're educating the large market of car buyers who will pay extra for all the benefits to them and society of better cars. We're presenting PHEVs, along with wind and solar power, as a coordinated response to two of today's greatest challenges: global warming and energy security.

Our goal is to persuade Toyota and other automakers to build PHEVs for a market we expect to expand as the Kyoto Protocols and parallel state and international greenhouse gas initiatives are phased in. We're exploring with public officials ways to provide incentives to auto makers to build GO-HEVs. We're demonstrating demand initially from early adopter individuals and institutions.

Working with other PHEV advocates, we're developing innovative ways to meet expected demand from utility, government and corporate fleets for substantial numbers of vehicles before a car company delivers production PHEVs. To take advantage of that who-knows-how-long window of opportunity, we're exploring ways for a California company to partner as a Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) with an automaker to design, assemble and sell GO-HEVs (at a price several thousand dollars higher than conventional hybrids, which would provide a lower lifetime cost of ownership than any other vehicle type). Conversion possibilities include the Ford Escape hybrid, all cars that use Toyota's "Hybrid Synergy Drive" (Prius, Lexus, Highlander, Nissan), as well as other forthcoming hybrids.

We're a mostly-volunteer effort. We've gotten contributions from, among others, a well-known entrepreneur and a major foundation, with others to come. We accept contributions and offer a unique bumper sticker to Charter Sponsors.

Founder Felix Kramer says, "I'm a startup person and environmentalist going way back (­resume.html). In 2001, I sold (marketplace for web development) and began advising Rocky Mountain Institute/Amory Lovins' Hypercar Inc. My change in focus from that futuristic simulation to more immediate solutions led to the launch of CalCars in 2002. My personal motivation evolved from general environmental and clean air goals to seeing GO-HEVs as a keystone component of a strategy to address global warming both nationally and internationally. I envision millions of GO-HEVs, charged from off-peak electricity from a modernized grid and from distributed photovoltaic and wind power, with the range extension engine powered by zero-carbon cellulose ethanol, as a way to significantly reduce the almost 50% of greenhouse gases that come from transportation."

You can find out far more about us at the URLs below.

Thanks, Felix Kramer

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