PLUG OK license plate
Bush Checks Out PHEV and EV on White House Lawn
Feb 23, 2007 (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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This significant event came about iIndependently of the "usual group" of PHEV advocates. High-level individuals based in many federal departments and agencies made it happen.

We had wondered if the President would be willing to be photographed with a PHEV conversion of a car not made in the US. Now we have the answer! Below is a quick report and a background article written before the event.

Bush inspects hybrid auto on White House lawn By Deb Riechmann Associated Press Feb. 23, 2007, 1:34PM­disp/­story.mpl/­nation/­4576703.html

WASHINGTON - President Bush peered under the hood of an all-electric sport utility truck parked at the White House today to stress that his goal of reducing gasoline use by 20 percent over the next decade is realistic.

"I firmly believe that the goal I laid out - that Americans will use 20 percent less gasoline over the next 10 years - is going to be achieved, and here's living proof of how we're going to get there," Bush said on the South Lawn after examining the SUV and a car that had a battery tucked in its trunk.

Bush's energy proposals, made in his State of the Union address last month, include ramping up the production of alternative fuels such as ethanol made from new, non-corn feedstocks. The proposal calls on Congress to require the annual use of 35 billion gallons of ethanol and other alternative fuels such as biodiesel by 2017, a fivefold increase over current requirements.

White House aides said the sharp increase in alternative fuels and technological changes, including the use of more gas-electric hybrid cars, will cut projected gasoline demand by 20 percent over the next decade.

"We're going to be driving our cars using all kinds of different fuels other than gasoline, and using batteries that will be able to be recharged in vehicles that don't have to look like golf carts," Bush said after meeting with business leaders and scientists who believe there is a market for automobiles that use high-tech batteries.

The hybrid car that Bush inspected had a high-power lithium-ion battery made by A123 Systems of Watertown, Mass. It can power the car for about 40 miles and recharge in five hours. The white truck, made by Phoenix Motorcars Inc. of Ontario, Calif., has a range of 130 miles and can be recharged in about 10 minutes with a rapid-charging unit or trickle-charged overnight with its onboard charger.

"It's the same thing you plug your electric dryer into," said Bryon Bliss, vice president of sales with Phoenix Motorcars.

"My wife, she gets out with our kids during the week and I swear she could drive all week on this vehicle on one charge. She goes to the grocery stores, go to the zoo with the kids and such, but she doesn't go that far," he said.

Bush to try out electric pickup
White House photo op of plug-in hybrid aims to
charge up campaign to reduce nation's dependence on gas.
Friday, February 23, 2007
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau­apps/­pbcs.dll/­article?AID=/­20070223/­BIZ/­702230387/­1020/­NATION

WASHINGTON -- President Bush plans to inspect a fully electric pickup truck and a yet-to-be identified plug-in hybrid model on the south lawn of the White House today as the administration touts electric vehicles as part of the solution to lowering the nation's reliance on foreign oil.

Bush is trying to drum up support for his plan to reduce the nation's gasoline usage 20 percent by 2017. The proposal -- which includes forcing automakers to dramatically increase the fuel efficiency of their vehicles -- faces its first test during a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday. Bush, who drives a Ford F-250 pickup on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, will look over a fully electric pickup built just three weeks ago by California-based Phoenix Motorcars Inc., said chief financial officer Dennis Hogan. A123 Systems, of Watertown, Mass., will display a plug-in hybrid, but spokeswoman Kate Aldinger did not know the make or model of the vehicle.

Phoenix Motorcars' midsize pickup should be certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for road use by mid-April and deliveries to customers will begin later this year, Hogan said.

Closely held Phoenix plans to sell 500 trucks this year, most to fleets in California, and hopes to produce SUVs later this year.

The pickups sell for $45,000 and can travel up to 130 miles before needing a recharge, but a new battery pack should increase its range to 250 miles, Hogan said.

"We have no idea how they got on their radar," Hogan said, noting that the White House called about two weeks ago. "People will see us and take a bit more notice. It gives us a little more credence when we are trying to visit fleet customers."

A123 Systems is a $100 million lithium-ion battery supplier that won a $15 million battery grant from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium. The company, along with auto supplier Johnson Controls Inc., was awarded a GM contract in January to design and test lithium-ion batteries for use in the Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid SUV.

White House spokesman Alex Conant said today's meeting, which also includes transportation fuel experts and researchers, is an opportunity to discuss Bush's fuel proposal and how new technologies can strengthen American's energy security.

Before the demonstration, Bush will meet with a group of experts and executives, including Phoenix Motorcars CEO Dan Elliott, A123 Systems CEO Dave Vieau and Alex Molinari, president of Johnson Controls' power solutions business.

Detroit automakers are not involved in the meeting.

The domestic automakers have more than 5 million flex-fuel vehicles on the roads that run on E85, a mix of gasoline and ethanol, and have vowed to double production by 2010. Automakers get credits to meet fuel economy mandates for building cars that run on E85.

"As firm advocates of advanced technology, it's good to see this level of White House attention," GM spokesman Greg Martin said of today's meeting. "We welcome anything that helps spur greater investment and research that could benefit the auto industry overall."

One emphasis of the meeting is to tout celluosic ethanol, made from wood chips, switch grass or manure.

Michigan State University professor Bruce Dale, an expert on ethanol, is among those invited to the White House. He predicts cellulosic ethanol production will hit 1 billion gallons annually in five years.

"This is real. It is not pie in the sky," Dale said. "It's going to grow exponentially."

Nearly all of the 5 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2006 came from corn. Corn prices have jumped dramatically as ethanol output has surged. Celluosic ethanol is viewed as a cheaper, better long-term solution. Congress has required that the nation use 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by 2012.

The Bush fuel economy plan assumes an average annual increase of 4 percent for passenger car corporate average fuel economy standards beginning in 2009 and for light-duty trucks in 2011, standards that automakers have called "very aggressive."

Nicole Nason, who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will testify Wednesday on the fuel economy proposal. Last week, NHTSA turned over a July 2005 report outlining its fuel economy research.

A smaller increase for light truck fuel economy adopted in 2006 will cost Detroit's Big Three an estimated $6.2 billion. Raising fuel economy standards 4 percent a year could force them to stop selling larger vehicles in some markets and invest in hybridizing more vehicles.

You can reach David Shepardson at (202) 662-8735 or dshepardson@....

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