PLUG OK license plate
Podtech Interview; Top 10 lists from Makower, Grist
Dec 31, 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.
Want more? Become a subscriber to CalCars-News:

Here's a December 10 interview from, "Technology ,business and media podcasts served daily" We covered all the bases in a 5:30 interview that you can listen to as an audio stream or download.

The Benefits of Plugging In­home/­technology/­1748/­the-benefits-of-plugging-in Posted by Matt Kelly | December 28th, 2006 "Green tech is the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century," says's Felix Kramer. I spoke with Kramer at the Alternative Car & Transportation Expo in Santa Monica, Calif., about the promise of PHEVs and "plugging in," the non-partisan group Set America Free and what else Congress needs to do to make this technology more widespread.

Joel Makower: writer of the Two Steps Forward blog on "sustainable business, clean technology, green marketplace, picks his top 10....though he says they're in no particular order, cars end up second. Top Green Business Stories of 2006­joel_makower/­2006/­12/­top_green_busin.html

2. Alt-Fuel Vehicles Get in Gear Just one year ago, it didn't feel like there was much hope for alternatively fueled vehicles, notwithstanding a handful of hybrids and a few bold but hopelessly miniscule companies seeking to create a market for small commuter cars and other niche products.

But seemingly out of nowhere, alt-fuel vehicles have gotten traction. And while it may not yet have hit the fast lane, it's at least moving in the right direction. General Motors began the year with its Live Green, Go Yellow campaign, along with a larger effort to help grow a "flex-fuel" infrastructure. It seemed to garner a measure of eco-cred that the company hadn't seen in quite a while. Of course, many people are asking tough questions about the viability and sustainability of a corn-based fuel supply -- and debating when alternatives to corn could be ready for market. Still, the quest for the "flex-fuel freeway" is in forward gear.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the pump: without a lot of fanfare or hype -- indeed, with some initial resistance from Big Auto -- the notion of the electric vehicle, which some had famously considered to have been killed, started showing signs of life. Starting with hobbyists and tech-geeks, then spreading to venture-backed companies like Tesla Motors, plug-in electric vehicles became the talk of Detroit, Tokyo and beyond. By year's end, Toyota and GM had both announced plans to introduce plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and the electric car seemed like it might be on the road to recovery.

Top ten breakthroughs that could help cool the greenhouse Grist Magazine - Seattle,WA,USA Posted by Gar Lipow at 12:22 PM on 12 Dec 2006­story/­2006/­12/­11/­232249/­75

David asked contributors for end-of-year lists. Since I normally focus on conservative assumptions, I thought I'd use it as an excuse to look at future breakthroughs and cost improvements.

I was going to weasel by calling these "possibilities," but instead I decided to use the time-tested technique of public psychics: I'll call them predictions, crow over any that come true, and pretend the rest never happened.

1. Power storage that will make electric cars cheaper than gasoline cars.

Ultracapacitors, various lithium systems, lead carbon foam (PDF), and aluminum are among the candidates. The first storage device with a price per kWh capacity of $200 or less, mass-to-power ratio as good or better than LiOn, and ability to retain 75% or more of capacity after 1,000 cycles in real world driving temperatures and conditions wins.

2. Cars that get 75 MPG to 200 MPG, capable of carrying four passengers or more, cost competitive with normal cars.

The old argument for hypercars remains valid. Carbon-fiber low-weight aerodynamic bodies combined with hybrid drives and low rolling-resistance tires can produce 75 MPG or better even in gasoline driven cars.

Carbon-fiber bodies are comparable in price to those made from steel, despite carbon fiber being more expensive than steel. They can be made in one piece, with built-in color, saving painting and assembly labor costs. In general, hypercars uses fewer but more expensive parts; there is no reason to think they need to be more expensive than conventional cars. You can now buy carbon fiber bodies, quantity one, for around $5,500. In wholesale quantities the price would drop. Driven by electric batteries, they can get still better results -- 90 MPG equivalent powered by the current U.S. grid, 200 MPG equivalent powered by a renewable electric grid.

3. Modified hybrids using existing designs like the Prius, with plugs, larger batteries, and upgraded software.

The result is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) with half the emissions of an existing hybrid. This lets them travel the first 12 to 40 miles from grid electricity, using gasoline engine only for longer trips. Many people have transformed their personal hybrids to PHEVs on a one-off basis.

Copyright 2003-09 California Cars Initiative, an activity of the International Humanities Center | Site Map