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Jul 19, 2005 (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 posting on Yahoo Groups is text-only; the actual post at the URL below crams in links to:

  • Union of Concerned Scientists' Hybrid Center
  • Detroit Project
  • UC Davis Hybrid Center
  • DaimlerChrysler Sprinter
  • CalCars
  • EDrive Systems
  • Fareed Zakaria column
  • Set America Free
  • Senator Obama's Amendment
  • LA Times story
  • CalCars Kudos Page
  • CalCars QVM Strategy

The Huffington Report - Delivering News and Opinion Since May 9, 2005­theblog/­archive/­felix-kramer/­clean-cars-breakthrough_4380.html

The Huffington Post
July 19, 2005
Felix Kramer
Clean Cars Breakthrough

Arianna Huffington has been talking about hybrid cars for a few years they're such an important step for car companies, how much they benefit society. Way back in 2003, her Detroit Project for Fuel-Efficient Cars prompted thousands of Americans to contribute to broadcast ads saying American car companies could, with existing technology, take technology leadership.

Fast forward two years. Though we finally have Ford's hybrid Escape, the biggest news hasn't come from car companies, but from the grassroots. Engineers and environmentalists have "green-tuned" the Toyota Prius, turning it into an even stronger, more complete hybrid. These conversions, called "plug-in" or "gas-optional" hybrids (PHEVs or GO-HEVs) add bigger batteries that can be recharged from a regular 120-volt outlet. The key advantage of GO-HEVs: they're electric for your daily commute, but they retain a hybrid's full gasoline-powered range.

A few GO-HEVs have been built over the years by a University of California at Davis team, but until recently they were dismissed as something car companies would never produce. This year, DaimlerChrysler in Germany became the first big auto maker to agree to a prototype program, but for a van, not a consumer car. Some of us weren't willing to leave that alone.

When the nonprofit I founded,, did the first Prius conversion, getting over 100 miles per gallon of gasoline plus electricity, people started paying attention. Then a private company, EDrive Systems, jumped in and said they'd be selling installed retrofits next year. Journalists started noticing all this: Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek's International Editor, pointed out that if these vehicles were "flex-fuel" (80% powered by bio-fuels like cellulose ethanol), they'd get 500 miles on just one gallon of gasoline (plus biofuel and electricity). Then "geo-greens" jumped on the bandwagon, saying these cars could "set America free" from imported oil. A coalition including Reagan-era officials like Frank Gaffney and Gary Bauer, Clinton's CIA Director James Woolsey and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- a true "neocon-green alliance" -- all signed on to promote 500 MPG cars. For the first time, the words "plug-in hybrids" were spoken on the Senate floor. There's even Senator Barack Obama's Amendment 851 in the Energy Bill (now in House-Senate Conference).

You can read the story of the people behind the Prius conversions in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times Magazine cover story, by Dan Neil, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, whose recent comments critical of the leadership of General Motors led that company to pull its ads from that paper! It's the latest in a series of major articles in media like The New York Times, Business Week and Time (more at CalCars Kudos) showing that people now realize we could all be driving far cleaner cars real soon. It also turns out that getting cars off gasoline and onto the electric power is a great strategy to address global warming. Even on the half coal-powered national grid, we'll get significant benefits.

Our next step is figuring out how to incentivize car companies to build them. We're starting by organizing public fleet buyers, utility fleets and early adopters. And we're refining an ambitious idea: bring an attractive partnership offer [pdf] to a major car company. Keep watching this. It's a snowball that's gathering speed and momentum!

Posted at 11:35 AM | email this post to a friend | permalink | comments

Author Bio:
Felix Kramer is a communications, marketing, business development and strategy executive who builds ambitious, unique and first-ever projects. He's made a successful career of promoting innovative ideas, events, products and services relating to energy and technology. Since 2001, he has been working with environmentalists, engineers, car experts and citizens as Founder of the California Cars Initiative, a nonprofit devoted to commercializing the next generation of clean cars. has created the PRIUS+ Campaign, converting the popular Toyota into a prototype grid-connected or "plug-in" hybrid.

Previously, as an environmentalist, he was a legislative aide for a member of Congress, in the late 1970s ran a nonprofit energy conservation and alternate energy conservation services company, created a trade association for conservation businesses, and directed a three-day citywide solar energy event in NYC.

In technology, he has an entrepreneurial track record with startups. He became a computer consultant in 1983, and in 1985 an early desktop publisher. In 1990, he co-authored "Desktop Publishing Success," (Dow Jones-Irwin, seven printings, over 20,000 copies), the first book on the business side of electronic publishing. He sold his DTP business in 1997. He's been involved with Internet ventures since 1994, beginning as one of the first online marketers. In 1997, he founded eConstructors. com, the marketplace for web development services, raised $1M from angel investors, assembled an international staff and built the world's largest searchable directory of web builders. He sold the company in 2001.

A graduate of Cornell University, he lives in Silicon Valley.

More about him at­resume.html. He can be contacted at fkramer@...

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