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Gas-Guzzler Conversions Offer a Way Out of Deep Water Drilling
May 6, 2010 (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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Today we offer some encouraging news: significant progress from the companies that are working on practical solutions to convert millions of gas-guzzlers to run partly or entirely on electricity. The new plug-in cars that will begin to arrive later this year, while long-awaited and much-welcomed, won't make much of a dent in our fuel consumption for over 15 years. If we want to do something sooner, we need to fix" tens of millions of the 250 million internal combustion vehicles on U.S. roads, and even more of the 900 million vehicles in the world. Read on for the latest developments that set the stage for a commitment to this strategy -- first by advocates, then by legislators and elected officials. In contrast to CalCars' seven-year campaign for PHEVs, this time, we expect that the needed incentives and other commitments will come mainly because companies' new announcements of products, partnerships and customers are making this a reality.

Of the retrofit companies profiled at our page, "Join the Campaign to Electrify World's 900+ Million Vehicles (as many as possible, to plug-in hybrid or all-electric)"­ice-conversions.html , we have good news from two: a first shipment from REV; a new facility and a significant meeting in Washington from ALTe -- we can expect to hear much more from them in the coming months.

TO FIRST FLEET CUSTOMER: Green Car Congress reports the SUV has a 160-kilometer range (99-mile), a top speed of 144 km/h (89 mph), and charge time is 3.8 to 5 hours at 240V.­2010/­04/­burlingtonhydro-20100423.html

See Burlington Hydro's press release at­2010/­04/­23/­burlington-hydro-gets-a-rev-for-its-gridsmartcity-initiative-w/ . "The REV 300 ACX is not a hybrid nor is it a concept vehicle -- it is a fully electric vehicle that will be in daily use in the Burlington Hydro and GridSmartCityTM fleet," said Jay Giraud, REV's CEO and president See REV's press release at­Documents/­Rev%20Release%20for%20BHI%20Event.pdf and a video at­media-coverage.html .

ALTe OPENS NEW FACILITY: We described this emerging company at length in March at­calcars-news/­1095.html . Now it's moving ahead rapidly, opening a 185,000 square foot headquarters in April. Here are excerpts from the report, "Electric vehicle converter has connections to go far," by Brent Snavely in the Detroit Free Press at­print/­article/­20100418/­BUSINESS/­4180461/­Electric-vehicle-converter-has-connections-to-go-far :

"ALTe aims to turn existing commercial fleet vehicles already on the road into plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles. [CEO John] Thomas said ALTe is targeting used commercial vehicles that are two to four years old and whose mileage has exceeded the warranty... .ALTe's plug-in hybrid electric powertrain is expected to power a vehicle for about 40 miles on a single charge before a gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the battery. Vehicles should be able to travel about 400 miles without refueling. ALTe's system can improve fuel efficiency by 80% to 200%. ALTe already has a $240-million [four-year] purchase order for about 12,000 powertrain kits with a company called Gulfstream Coach for airport shuttle buses.

"In February, ALTe secured $8.4 million in state tax credits from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The company also is seeking a $101-million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy and is in the middle of a review process. What's more, former Chrysler President Thomas LaSorda and former Chrysler sales executive Steven Landry are both on ALTe's board of directors and their consulting firm, LaSorda Group, is an investor. Landry said LaSorda Group invested in ALTe because they liked the company's business model as well as the background of ALTe's founders."

FOUR-MINUTE CNN interview by Al Velshi with ALTe Chief Technology Officer Jeff DeFrank at­watch?v=b_U4uIFYttI .

MR. THOMAS GOES TO WASHINGTON: Here's a report by ALTe CEO John Thomas on a key meeting in DC May 5 that brought together CEOs from multiple cleantech companies and shows how the company is delivering its message that it's heading into a giant business opportunity:

"The Senate Clean Energy Jobs Bill Steering Committee includes roughly 15 Senators. Sen. Bingaman and others were supportive of John Doer's initiative to place a carbon tax to accelerate adoption and fund these programs with up-front cash. Sen. Boxer was excited about what we were doing. I met other staffers and CEOs. We started the meeting with roughly 15-20 CEO/Chairmen of for-profit companies mixed with industry associations. Sen. Reid opened, asking for help to get a bill passed so we don't continue to have oil spills and other unnecessary costs to the budget and society.

"Sen. Stabenow called on Mary Ann Wright from Johnson Controls and myself and gave a little Intro on our behalf. Afterwards, I gave a very brief explanation of our technology and business model. The room of CEO/Chairman and approx 10 Senators heard that we are ready now to annually convert 90,000 vehicles of the existing 108 million PSVs (pickups, SUVs and vans) on the road today starting with fleets where it makes financial sense, and that ALTe will be the catalyst for massive job growth in the EV and hybrid industry and the larger V2G ecosystem.

"At a subsequent meeting, we explored ways to develop a big and sustained push for ALTe and the industry over a period of six months to encourage legislators to support these initiatives and the public in the US to finally 'get it.'"

ALTe's NEW BROCHURE BOLSTERS THE CASE: We urge you to read ALTe's new four-panel brochure that describes its vision, its technology, and provides an illuminating cost-benefit analysis. It shows paybacks in two-to three years for multiple vehicle types that are driven 50,000 miles a year (frequent for fleets), and shows scenarios based on gas prices at different levels. The projections assume these vehicles will be eligible for federal tax credits equivalent to those provided to large-battery EVs and PHEVs. Far smaller conversion credits are now in the law, making this a central goal for ALTe and CalCars. Download it at­altellc-brochure-may2010.pdf --I t's easy to read on-screen but when printed on a letter-sized sheet the type is small.

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