PLUG OK license plate
Austin stories + Tune In to SIRIUS Weds AM
Aug 24, 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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If you get SIRIUS Satellite Radio (directly, via DISH network or onlline via a free 3-day Guess Pass at, you can hear about 100+MPG hybrids for up to a half hour (they say it depends on how entertaining I am) on the Sirius Left Channel 143 at 11AM Eastern, 8AM Pacific. You can call in to 1.866.99.SIRIUS.

The host is the unusually thoughtful Alex Bennett, 1970s New York City WMCA Good Guy who pioneered in youth-oriented talk, then 12 years at several top San Francisco stations. See entertaining selection of interviews at­Radio%20Archives/­radio_archives.htm .

Links to reports on Austin Energy Press Conference have been posted at­kudos.html and are reprinted below.

In addition to previously posted­news/­local/­stories/­082205kvuepluginaustin-cb.9b28f68d.html

See report plus continuing comments...­Global/­story.asp?S=3752575&nav=0s3ddcQ9
KXAN-TV36 - Austin,TX
08/22/05 - 6:04 pm

Promoting Hybrid Cars

Expensive gas makes hybrid vehicles more attractive with their high mileage.

But a plug in hybrid one that charges from any electrical outlet can double those miles.

Now Central Texas leaders hope to spur a national movement to mass produce them.

Some hybrid vehicles average 30 or 40 miles a gallon. But a different kind of hybrid -- one that charges from any electric outlet -- promises 100 miles a gallon or more.

A coalition of environmental, business and government leaders launched a campaign to promote the idea, called Plug In Austin.

It's made possible by new batteries designed by Austin's Valence Technology.

"Just like you've seen in your laptops and cell phones, they've progressed to the lighter, longer run-time batteries. That's what these are, just in a large format," Marc Kohler with Valence Technology said.

By charging them on the electric grid, the gas engine hardly ever runs.

Instead of spending $2.50 or more on a gallon of gas, fill up one of the batteries with energy, and you'll get the equivalent of a gallon of gas for about 60 cents.

For environmentalists, it means clean air. For business, it can be relief from crushing fuel costs. For America, it can mean less dependence on foreign oil.

"I think the time is now. The people are ready. Everyone's lining up behind it," Brandi Clark with the Austin Eco Network said.

"Our insatiable desire for energy is getting us entangled abroad, and how our failure to recognize the reality of climate change threatens the security of our country," Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-South Texas, said.

But automakers won't build without buyers so state and local governments promise to buy them already testing a plug-in prototype.

A national petition drive designed to spur the auto industry into action has even critics impressed.

"If they're successful with this, they'll be able to do it with 10 other renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. This is a template for something bigger," Paul Robbins with the Austin Environmental Directory said.­austin/­stories/­2005/­08/­22/­daily9.html
Austin Business Journal - 8:46 AM CDT Tuesday
Austin launches hybrid campaign

Austin has launched its "Plug-In Austin" campaign to promote the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

It also loaned stage-room to a local company designing a key component of the new cars.

"The advanced battery technology needed for a plug-in is being produced right here in Austin by Valence Technology [Inc.]," Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce chair Kirk Watson says.

"The positives that would flow from the production of plug-in hybrids in terms of economics and air quality are huge."

Plug-ins combine today's gas-electric hybrid technology with a larger battery that can be recharged by plugging it into a standard wall socket.

The battery would be sufficient to meet everyday commuting needs, and reduce annual gasoline consumption by as much as 70 percent.

"Plug-in hybrids can help significantly address two very serious problems facing communities and our country," Mayor Will Wynn says.

"The over-reliance of America on oil imports and the need to improve air quality in our cities by reducing pollution from automobiles."

The Austin plan includes:

  • a city council resolution supporting the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles
  • local seed money from electric utilities (Austin Energy will provide $1 million) to help local governments, businesses and the public purchase an initial round of plug-ins
  • commitments for fleet orders by the City of Austin, Travis County, other local governmental agencies and businesses
  • a grassroots petition drive to collect signatures from citizens encouraging automakers to mass-produce plug-in hybrids.

The appeal of plug-in vehicles is underscored by the fact that 78 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of their jobs.

A battery pack sufficient to power a vehicle a distance of 35 miles on a charge would mean a majority of Americans would likely need to fill up with gasoline only once or twice a month.

In addition, an "electric" gallon of gas would cost 70 to 80 cents at prevailing electric rates. A plug-in hybrid that gets 30 miles on a gallon of $2.55-national-average gasoline could travel more than 100 miles on $2.55 worth of "electric" gallons of energy.

"This is an economic stability initiative," Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe says. "Escalating fuel prices are hurting everyone. They hinder our ability to deliver services and drive up the cost of all goods. They create tremendous hardship on businesses and households operating on small margins."

Prototype plug-in hybrids are being tested today as popular models of today's standard hybrid are being converted into plug-ins with excellent results.

Next year, Austin will join some 10 other cities across the country to test a prototype plug-in hybrid van built by DaimlerChrysler, the only automaker currently considering the full production of plug-ins.

A key component of the Plug-In Austin campaign will be a petition drive.

Austin environmental, civic, and business groups will circulate petitions with the goal of collecting at least 10,000 signatures by December.

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