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The Summer's Crown Jewels of PHEV News
Jul 16, 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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With so much important news accumulating recently, I had considered calling this posting, "PHEV Reader's Digest," or "The Kitchen PHEV Sink." I hope the current title does justice to the range of developments. I'll be on vacation July 16-26, recharging and planning the next big splash. In early August. Then we hope to accelerate plans to build a coalition for a new campaign, as challenging as the 2002-2006 effort to put PHEVs on the map and into policy agendas. This time it's to do the same for gas-guzzler conversions.

This posting is divided into sections; at our News Archive, you'll be able to jump to each section:


CalCars' page, "How Carmakers Are Responding to the PHEV Opportunity" at­carmakers.html shows the status of plans by almost two dozen automakers. We've just updated the graphic and table. And we're pleased to welcome -- and link to -- the new "Plug-In Vehicle Tracker" just launched by Plug In America at­plug-in-vehicle-tracker.html . Our page focuses on series and parallel PHEVs; PIA encompasses PHEVs as well as BEVs (battery vehicles), including a range of two- and three-wheel and commercial vehicles.

Hundreds of media reports have spread an unconfirmed July 4 report from Nikkei business daily, amplified via Reuters on July 6­article/­GCA-GreenBusiness/­idUSTRE5630DY20090706 , saying that Toyota will start mass-producing PHEVs in 2012. The story lists a price around $48,000 for a 12-18-mile all-electric range -- an offer that by then would hardly be compelling. We think it isn't true until the company says so, and so far, Toyota has simply responded that it won't comment on future plans.

TOYOTA'S NOW-AND-THEN SKEPTICISM: In May, U.S. national manager for advanced technology Bill Reinert told the Academy of Sciences in May that annual demand for PHEVs won't exceed 50,000 and could be as low as 3,500­apps/­news?pid=20601101&sid=arvp1GgT74o8 . He then amplified these doubts at a conference­auto/­10001607/­toyotas-problem-with-plug-in-hybrids/

CHEVY VOLT MOVES TO INTEGRATION STAGE: In late May, GM began building its first pre-production vehicles: unlike the first prototypes and vehicles shoehorned into Malibu and Cruz platforms, these look like the final vehicle.­archives/­2009/­06/­first_pre-production_chevrolet_volt_charges_ahead_of_schedule.html

WASHINGTON POST PROFILES BOB LUTZ, GM, AND THE VOLT in a long Sunday feature in June with some simplifications and misunderstandings by the author and comments by Lutz that may rub many the wrong way. But the story is illuminating.­wp-dyn/­content/­article/­2009/­06/­06/­AR2009060602212.html; comments at­2009/­06/­07/­bob-lutz-and-gm-ambivalent-about-the-chevy-volt/

GM'S VIEW ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SCALING PRODUCTION OF PLUG-INS: Read Frank Weber's comments at­archives/­2009/­05/­how_gm_is_making_electric_vehicles_relevant.html

HYUNDAI'S PHEV PLANS: The Korean automaker now plans a PHEV based on its Blue-Will 38-mile range concept vehicle for sale in U.S. in 2012.­8301-13746_7-10280045-48.html

JAGUAR PLANS PHEVS: Now owned by Indian automaker Tata, the company is reported to be considering building series hybrids based on the SE sportscar and SJ sedan­2009/­07/­10/­jaguar_ecar_future/

VOLKSWAGEN & BYD: Read about their open-ended Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on hybrids and electric vehicles:­6543918/­green/­volkswagen-to-partner-with-byd-for-future-hybrids/­index.html

FORD'S ENTHUSIASM FOR PHEVS now includes a commitment to build 5,000 in 2012.­auto/­10001710/­unlike-toyota-ford-is-bullish-on-plug-in-hybrids/


GIGATON THROWDOWN EVALUATES TOP STRATEGIES: In 2007, Bay Area serial entrepreneur and long-time CalCars supporter Sunil Paul pledged at the Clinton Global Initiative he would create a mechanism to encourage "investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policy makers to 'think big' to massively scale clean energy during the next 10 years." The focus: "What technologies could reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2e) by at least 1 billion metric tons -- a gigaton -- by 2020?" Paul's team of academics, entrepreneurs and others developed the Gigaton Throwdown, with results announced in Washington, DC in June. Nine contending technologies were are Biofuels, Building efficiency, Concentrating solar power, Construction materials, Geothermal, Nuclear, Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, Solar photovoltaics, and Wind. Download the 9 MB document at and read the section on PHEVs in numbered pages 103-112.

The report found that PHEVs couldn't reach 1GT unless virtually every new vehicle made worldwide could plug in. We agree that the rate of market penetration of new plug-in vehicles is too slow to have an impact by 2020. As reviewers of successive drafts, we suggested this validates our new focus on converting millions of gas-guzzlers already on the road. While the team felt this would be especially challenging for PHEVs, the final report acknowledges that approach and our suggestion for accompanying business models in its "Game Changers" section. Here's an excerpt from p.111: "Additional concepts that could help to facilitate market transformation include... conversion of existing conventional vehicles to electric-drive... .Conversion of conventional vehicles to PHEVs is quite complicated... However, conversion of certain conventional vehicles to all-electric 'BEV' operation is more possible, in which case the combustion engine driveline is completely removed. Innovative vehicle ownership and financing models can help to reduce first cost barriers to vehicle purchase by spreading these costs over time and offsetting them with operational savings from increased vehicle efficiency and lower fuel costs."

In a very significant 53-page June 2009 Report to Congressional Requesters: "FEDERAL ENERGY AND FLEET MANAGEMENT: Plug-in Vehicles Offer Potential Benefits, but High Costs and Limited Information Could Hinder Integration into the Federal Fleet," the GAO explores issues in federal procurement policies and recommends governmental steps to advance their adoption. Download the document at­new.items/­d09493.pdf and see reports at­2009/­06/­gao-20090625.html and­greencaradvisor/­2009/­06/­gao-phevs-potentially-beneficial-but-costs-can-hinder-federal-fleet-integration.html

LIGHT-DUTY VEHICLE ELECTRIFICATION IN CALIFORNIA: OPPORTUNITIES AND BARRIERS is a white paper by the California Public Utilities Commission's Policy and Planning Division . This report reflects the growing recognition by regulatory agencies that the arrival of plug-in vehicles will require many changes in regulatory policy. The 74-page report and links to comments from utilities and advocates are found at­PUC/­energy/­ev_comments.htm

PIKE RESEARCH REPORT ON PLUG-IN VEHICLES AND THE GRID: Cleantech market intelligence firm Pike Research released a comprehensive 53-page industry analysis, "Electric Vehicles on the Grid: Residential, Public, Private and Workplace Charging Stations, EV Charging Business Models, and Vehicle to Grid Technology" predicting that by 2015, a total of 1.7 million PHEVs will be on the road worldwide. Toyota, GM and Ford are expected together to account for 75%, with Chinese manufacturers including Chery and BYD as important players. Those tracking the business opportunities in charging and related enterprises and people with responsibility for local charging infrastructure might consider purchasing this $2,500 report, which will be followed shortly by "Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles: The Global Outlook for PHEVs: Business Issues, Technology Issues, Key Players, and Market Forecasts." See the first report's table of contents and ordering information at­research/­clean-transportation. And read John Gartner of Matter Network and Pike Research on PHEV rollout rates at­news.cfm?newsid=21180

STATUS REPORT ON BATTERIES: Don't miss CalCars Technology Lead Ron Gremban's comprehensive report from the annual Advanced Automotive Battery Conference at the EAA-PHEV discussion group. Even if you lack a strong technical background, you'll learn a lot! For the four out-of-order postings, start from­group/­eaa-phev/­messages/­3628?l=1 and read 3647, 3643, 3650 and 3651, plus comments from others.

ARGONNE NATIONAL LAB RESEARCH STUDY ON BATTERY SIZE: suggests declining benefits from larger packs.­2009/­06/­argonne-phev-20090611.html

GREEN CAR CONGRESS REORGANIZES ITS INFO: Now you can scan this deep website's past year's reports on plug-ins at­plugins/

NEW BOOKS will soon be added to links at­books.html

"BUILD YOUR OWN PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLE" is by Seth Leitman, longtime green vehicle/sustainability expert. His website is and he's previously the author of "Build Your Own Electric Vehicle." Both are published by McGraw-Hill as part of their Green Guru Guides series. This 275-page $29.95 book provides an overview of the technology and the issues in doing a conversion, and it works well as a different way in to the open source material that can be found at or the easier-to-remember .

"V2G-101: A TEXT ABOUT VEHICLE-TO-GRID, the technology which enables a future of clean and efficient electric-powered transportation," by Leonard Beck is the first book exclusively focused on the integration of plug-in vehicle with the power generation industry -- which has never had a practical way to store energy it produces. It starts with cars plugging in to homes with smart meters for V2B (Vehicle to Building) and will evolve over time to V2G (Vehicle to Grid). The author is an employee of Delmarva Power & Light (the Washington, DC-area utility). This 344-page $30.00 book is published by BookSurge publishing


Ontario has just announced a "1 in 20" campaign (1 of 20 cars by 2020 will plug in) including rebates from C$4-10,000 (US$3,575-$8,938) and access to HOV lanes for five years starting in 2010. --­2009/­07/­ontario-rebates-20090715.html . And Spain has announced a program to subsidize 15-20% of a plug-in vehicle's cost up to 7,000 Euros ($10,000). The Movele plan begins with eight million Euros in funding --­2009/­07/­10/­spain-announces-electric-vehicle-rebates-of-up-to-7-000-per-car/

FUTURE OF TOYOTA'S CALIFORNIA FACTORY: With GM having pulled out of its longtime joint venture with Toyota to build cars at the NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing) plant in Fremont, CA (the only large auto factory on the West Coast), the future of the plant and its 5,000 jobs is in doubt. Some had hoped Toyota would build Priuses there, but the company has ruled that out. Back in May 2007, our suggestion that the plant build plug-in cars was favorably received when we and the Apollo Alliance met with the UAW Local 2244 -- see photo at­photos-people.html#CD . This idea has now been echoed by an editorial in San Jose Mercury News­ci_12726223? . The decision will be made by management in Japan; so far they're not hearing from many in the U.S. Unfortunately, so far, in the dog days of summer, in a region that hopes to become the "plug-in capitol of the world," no critical mass of civic leaders, unions and others has rallied. If some organization can take the lead on a quick campaign on this, contact us.

THE GREAT ELECTRIC CAR RACE: Gas 2.0 ( ) has launched a new website to track the competition among U.S. cities to develop the entire infrastructure and incentives for plug-in cars. First postings are from the mayors of San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. And Project Get Ready's website keeps adding useful resources, including policy checklists and analytical tools and descriptions of best practices that others can use.

HYBRIDCARS.COM VIEWS: see editor/publisher Brad Berman's late May musings on the slow rate of change in the auto industry. This points to the conclusion we've reached about the need to partially electrify gas-guzzlers on the road.­oil-dependence/­confronting-slow-rate-auto-technology-change-25831.html And in July, Berman surveyed the status of many manufacturers in­news/­plug-hybrid-fever-spreads-despite-cost-25906.html

FAST FOOD CHARGING LEADER: McDonalds in Cary, NC has installed an electric charging station for its customers as they patronize the restaurant or the nearby shopping center. McDonalds spokespeople make clear they're hoping to do more. Partners are Novacharge and Coulomb Technologies.­news/­chi-ap-nc-mcdonalds-electr,0,4223228.story

HOW MUCH RANGE SHOULD A PHEV HAVE? See comments by CalCars, Southern California Edison and others at­profiles/­blogs/­range-anxieties-what-lies

ZIPCAR CEO GIVES CARSHARE PERSPECTIVE ON PLUG-INS, Scott Griffith explains his thinking about the future of electric car-share fleets and explains why the company may start with PHEVs on the way to all-electric.­2009/­07/­13/­zipcar-ceo-why-were-not-going-electric-anytime-soon/

A123SYSTEMS AND BUSINESS FORECASTS: See "A123Systems Takes a Post-Stimulus & Bailout Look at IPO" for a discussion about how the market looks for battery suppliers.­2009/­06/­30/­a123systems-takes-a-post-stimulus-bailout-look-at-ipo/


SEATTLE PLUG-IN HYBRIDS' LOW MPG? Reports of converted Priuses in Seattle's city fleets using almost as much gas as standard hybrids have gotten broad distribution. From reports we've seen, the cars often didn't plug in, were used mainly on short trips where any car gets the worst mileage, and drivers received no orientation. A Wired story­cars/­coolwheels/­news/­2009/­05/­plugins0506 mentions some of these factors (many of which apply to conversions but won't hinder new PHEVs) as does one at NPR:­templates/­story/­story.php?storyId=102634940 .

HIGH-SPEED PRIUS PHEV CONVERSION: Plug-In Conversions Corp in Southern CA has added to its 25-mile-range system a new $2-2,500 electronics package from Ewert Energy Systems that allows highway-speed all-electric driving -- yes, you heard right! See info and a video at, a report at­news.cfm?newsid=21189 and postings at he EAA-PHEV discussion group:­group/­eaa-phev/­messages

PHEV DRIVES FROM FLORIDA TO WASHINGTON, DC ON 9 GALLONS: We've always said PHEVs could win a cross-country MPG race -- if they could take a month getting there. Now a Florida Toyota dealer has sponsored a 10-day North Palm Beach to DC trip that averaged 123 MPG.­communities/­driveon/­post/­2009/­06/­68187699/­1


We've been asked by our cleantech associates to bring to our readers' attention two new projects:

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