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Plug-In Partners Update/Kristof in NYTimes/Re-Stating Goals
Aug 20, 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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Plug-In Partners recently sent out a great report on the status of the national campaign for "soft" fleet buy orders. We were struck by one phrase that started us thinking: "Realizing that PHEVs are a certainty, we want to take steps to prepare the arrival of plug-in hybrids."

We agree that PHEVs are a "certainty" -- but that doesn't automatically mean they'll arrive as quickly as they could. And it doesn't mean they'll be done right and become the best-sellers we think they can be. Back in May when we first heard PHEVs described as "inevitable," we said: "We agree -- and so, increasingly, do many automakers. But 'inevitable' could still mean five-ten years away. This at a time when it's the end of 'business as usual' for our environment, our foreign policy and our economy. We need to begin today the necessary transition to electrification of transportation."

With the changing landscape, we're also reviewing our plans for 2007, which we published in late 2006 at

We're considering the best strategies to meet our goals to:

  • Get demonstration fleets on the road as rapidly as possible
  • Promote government and private incentive programs to hasten PHEV production
  • Enable PHEV owners and drivers to contribute their views and experiences to automakers and others
  • Foster the SUCCESSFUL commercialization (mass production) and marketing of PHEVs

This means communicating realistic expectations, and ensuring that cars are built for safety and reliability. And it calls for our continuing to keep up the pressure and emphasizing the concepts of "versioning" and "good enough PHEVs with today's batteries." (See a graphic version of this in Slide 21 of our recently updated general presentation at -- 2.7MB PDF.)

We've just updated our page, "How Carmakers are Responding to the Plug-In Hybrid Opportuntiy," to reflect the news in recent weeks. See

In Feb. 5, 2006, we were excited when Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a column extolling PHEVs -- see "100-MPG Cars: It's a Start." He said, "Surprise ­ we have all that technology today! We even have a handful of demonstration vehicles to prove it. All we lack is bold political and corporate leadership to put this technology in play immediately."

18 months later, Kristof just wrote his last column before heading off to co-author a book on raising the status of women in the developing world. Kristof is best-known for his stirring reports on human rights issues. But his parting words, "In Seach of Cheney's 'Virtue,'"­/2007­/08­/20­/opinion­/20kristof.html?hp were about energy policy and climate change. And right in the middle, he said: "The government also should encourage commercialization of plug-in hybrid vehicles, which could be plugged into a power outlet to charge the battery. Such vehicles don't use any gas on short trips and might average 100 miles per gallon." We hope he'll return to discover that he can change his message!

UPDATE FROM PLUG-IN PARTNERS : Plug-In Partners National Campaign invites you to join us as a partner in our campaign to usher Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) to market.

The PHEV is perhaps the most effective answer to calls for reductions in our country’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s). Equipped with an extra-large battery pack, a PHEV relies on electricity rather than gasoline to drive a vehicle. This innovation can provide a fuel economy of up to 100 mpg and a reduction of up to 50% in GHG’s. PHEV’s are a smart solution for the environment and national security, but with a fuel cost equivalent to $.80/gallon of gasoline, they are also a smart solution for consumers.

When the Plug-In Partners campaign launched in January, 2006, our goal was to demonstrate a market for PHEVs to automakers. Thirty thousand petition signatures, ten thousand soft fleet orders, and nearly 550 partners later, we believe we are succeeding. Automakers like GM and Toyota have formally announced plans to bring a PHEV to market, and the technology for them is advancing near daily.

The focus of our Plug-In Partners campaign is now shifting. Realizing that PHEVs are a certainty, we want to take steps to prepare the arrival of plug-in hybrids. Among many things, this entails:

  • Lobbying for federal legislation of tax rebates and incentives for PHEVs
  • Promoting research that demonstrates their efficiency and reliability
  • Educating the public on the benefits of driving PHEVs

We invite you to help us in this broader initiative. The first step you can take is to sign on as a Plug-In Partner and file a soft fleet order, forms for which are [available on request or at []. Besides proving a market for PHEVs, these two contributions strengthen our voice as we plead our case to lawmakers, researchers, and the public.

The second step you can take is to use your organization to advertise and promote PHEV’s. Examples of publicity include writing features for newsletters or mailings, holding a press release announcing your involvement, or sharing literature about Plug-In Hybrids with your colleagues and constituents. [Also available is] a DVD with an informatinoal short on PHEV’s that you can show to friends and colleagues.

We are completely convinced that PHEVs will make a significant impact, and we are excited to have new partnerships such as yours to help us reach our goal. I invite your ideas, questions and comments on our campaign directly:

Thank you once again for your support and involvement.

Sincerely, Austan S. Librach P.E.,
AICP Deputy Coordinator, Plug-In Partners
Austin Energy

Tim Peterson
Partnership Services Coordinator
Plug-In Partners National Campaign
Austin Energy

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