Sep 2, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Just as we thought we Toyota's slogan "moving forward," applied to plug-in hybrids, they've again pushed back the date. We hoped for model year 2009; then it looked like 2010 or 2011. (See our chronologies at http://www.calcars.org/carmakers.html. Now a Toyota spokesperson tells Reuters that "affordable plug-in hybrids are a decade away." (Full article below.)
What is the context for this statement? A Reuters reporter asked for a comment about Pacific Gas & Electric's announcement that it was taking the unprecedented step of urging its 5.1 million customers to ask car-makers to build PHEVs http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/calcars-news/message/507. Here's the larger context for the company: The front page of Friday's New York Times Business Section, in an article on the just-passed AB 32, The California Global WarmingSolutions Act of 2006, "California Plan to Cut Gases Splits Industry, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/01/business/01energy.html, says, "As a result of his [CEO Peter Darbee's} wide inquiries, PG&E, the parent of Pacific Gas and Electric Company and one of the nation's largest energy utilities, broke away from the industry pack to support sweeping efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are widely blamed for global warming."
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the "big 3" don't see hybrids EVER as the winning alternative. For another view, this long weekend, you could spend an entertaining few hours getting the provocative perspective of a heavy-hitter in the investment world. Read the eye-opening Alliance Bernstein report, "The Emergence of Hybrid Vehicles" http://www.calcars.org/alliance-bernstein-hybrids-june06.pdf, which predicts hybrids will take a 50% share of new-car sales by 2015 and will make up 85% of new vehicle sales and 72% of the installed base by 2030 (page 34). If you just want the summary, see the 6-pager at http://www.alliancebernstein.com/investments/us/StoryPage.aspx?nid=5347&cid=37755.
Carmakers asked to hurry up on plug-in hybrids Reuters, Friday, September 1, 2006; 10:19 PM By Bernie Woodall http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/01/AR2006090101696.html
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is asking its 5.1 million customers to petition automakers to speed up development of plug-in electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles, California's largest utility said on Friday.
Along with their power and gas bills for September, PG&E customers will get a request to lobby the automakers.
PG&E and its parent, PG&E Corp., have joined with an Austin, Texas-based organization called "Plug-In Partners" that has set up an Internet petition drive to pressure U.S. and foreign automakers to make cars that can charge up by plugging in to a regular 120-volt household outlet.
"The petition basically says, 'If you build it, we will buy it,"' said PG&E vice president Bob Howard.
For their part, the automakers say plug-in hybrids are not ready for the showroom floor.
The leading hybrid seller in North America is Toyota Motor Corp., which including August U.S. sales figures issued on Friday is on pace to sell 198,000 hybrids in 2006, up from 145,560 in 2005.
In June, Toyota said "hybrids will be the core technology of the 21st century."
Hybrids on the road use electricity generated by the gasoline-fueled engine. But affordable plug-in hybrids are a decade away, Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong said on Friday.
If that is so, said PG&E spokeswoman Jann Taber, the petition drive and other efforts to pressure automakers could speed up the process of development to mass production.
"Automakers aren't convinced there are enough buyers," PG&E's Howard said. "That's why PG&E is hoping to harness the power of its 5.1 million customers."
The three major U.S. automakers, General Motors Corp. Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG, do not see hybrids as the winning alternative to gasoline-fueled vehicles.
GM is in the early stages of plug-in hybrid development and has not committed to any production, spokesman Dave Barthmuss said.
Hydrogen fuel cells are the alternative of the future, but plug-in hybrids are likely to be among several alternatives that will serve as a bridge until the time hydrogen fuel cells are affordable and practical, Barthmuss said.
At a hydrogen fuel conference earlier this year, automakers and developers of the technology said hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would not be commonplace until about 2020.
PG&E's manager of clean air transportation, Brian Stokes, said he has asked to meet with U.S., Japanese, South Korean, and Japanese automakers, and only one company has agreed to meet with him so far.
PG&E on Friday cited a study by the California Electric Transportation Coalition that says if automakers produce plug-in hybrids within a few years, 2.5 million of them would be on the road by 2020.
PG&E's Taber said it was a coincidence that the plea to petition automakers occurred the same week that California passed landmark legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The petition states: "If I could buy a vehicle that was cheaper to operate, cleaner, ran on domestic electricity, and I could buy it from you for a few thousand dollars more, yes I would positively WANT to plug it in to a 120-volt outlet."
Utilities like PG&E will not benefit from any increase in power use by its customers, said Taber of PG&E. Their rates are regulated by state agencies and they do not make more profit if they sell more electricity, Taber said.
PG&E officials say that if plug-in hybrids do become common, they will urge customers to plug in at night when the power grid is not as strained as it is during daylight hours.