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Bill Clinton/Energy Dept/Daryl Hannah: Close Encounters of the PHEV Kind
Oct 23, 2006 (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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It's been a busy 10 days for CalCars' white plug-in Prius with the big green 100+ MPG signs. The schedule I'm about to describe may echo a gossip column. But it reflects how excited all sorts of people are getting about PHEVs. At this point, we're close to having most people on board -- except the car companies, which means we still have a long way to go!

On Oct 11, we showed the car to several hundred members of the Young Presidents' Organization and the YPO Alumni network who assembled in Portola Valley to hear about global warming.

On Oct. 13, our car was the featured vehicle at the Los Angeles event where Bill Clinton endorsed Prop. 87. Clinton pulled into the UCLA sculpture garden in a Ford SUV hybrid. LA City Council President Eric Garcetti (a RAV4EV driver) walked with him to our car and gave him a several-minute intro: look at the battery pack, pop the hood (no changes in front), hold the "dongle" (orange 120-volt cable that gives drivers the entire PHEV infrastructure) and extension cord, sit in the front seat, examine the EnergyCS Control/Display Unit.

At the stage, Garcetti introduced Geena Davis (to whom I'd shown the car briefly before Clinton arrived), who introduced Clinton to the crowd of 5,000. (See previous post for more about this event.)

After speaking, Clinton waded into the enthusiastic crowd. As he returned to his hybrid SUV, I got his attention, and we talked for almost 10 minutes -- joined halfway through by Steven Bing, major backer of Prop 87. I gave Clinton a packet of airplane reading and a souvenir dongle. He told me about the Mercury Mariner Hybrid "Presidential Edition" vehicle Bill Ford donated for his Secret Service team just last month. (The ceremony happened during the Clinton Global Initiative.) It gets 32 MPG city/29 highway. He became very interested when I told him adding batteries and a plug could easily double that and displace most gasoline with electricity for local driving. Like everyone I talk to these days, he said "how can I get one?" We plan to follow up! At CalCars Photos-People­photos-people.html, you can see Clinton with our car and in conversation with me.

Back in the Bay Area, Silicon Valley Business Leaders for Alternative Energy­ got to see the car as they walked in to an event where Senator Dianne Feinstein, Set America Free's Anne Korin and Robert "Bud" McFarlane (national security advisor to Pres. Reagan) all endorsed PHEVs as a top way to reduce dependence on imported oil. We talked with US Rep. Mike Honda, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino and California Undersecretary for Energy Affairs Joe Desmond.

Mid-week, a high-level team from the U.S. Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (with a $1.2 billion budget) and the National Renewable Energy Lab came to Silicon Valley to meet with Clean-Tech/Green-Tech scientists, entrepreneurs and investors. During two packed days organized by the able bi-coastal Jack Hidary and Josh Becker, founders of­, we had a small PHEV working session (including Prof. Andy Frank and executives from Pacific Gas & Electric) with key EERE people who had missed seeing our car on our May Washington trip. At CalCars Photos­photos-people.html, you can see Assistant Energy Secretary Alexander A. Karsner, who reports that President Bush asks the department weekly about progress on PHEV batteries. You can also see EERE Chief Operating Officer Paul Dickerson, and the new Director of Commercialization Brad Barton. Communications Director Patrice Pisinski and Senior Advisor Michael Bruce came too. Karsner was especially impressed that on the last leg of his drive to downtown Palo Alto, he got 240MPG +155 Watt-hours/mile.

We wound up the week by giving a ride from San Francisco to Palo Alto to actress Daryl Hannah, who spends more and more of her time working on DHLoveLife http://www.dhlovelife, where you can see her video blogs on environmental topics. Our car spent Thursday evening on the sidewalk in front of the Rain Forest Action Network's annual "Revel" celebration/fundraiser event. RAN is a key supporter of PHEVs and sponsors zero-emission campaigns including Jumpstart Ford. RAN also generously provides a home and administrative support for Plug-In Bay Area.

Of course, once we're able to get significant funding from ANY of these prominent supporters or others, we'll be able to enlist these and other constituencies on new eady-to-launch focused campaigns to make it easier and quicker for car-makers to say Yes.

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