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Plug-In Partners Kicks Off National PHEV Campaign

With a launch event in Washington DC, Plug-In Partners today kicked off a national campaign to urge automakers to accelerate development of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV).

An initiative of the City of Austin, Texas, Plug-in Partners is a grassroots coalition of cities including including Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle as well as electric utilities and national policy organizations.

The Plug-In Partners campaign is designed to convince automakers that a market for plug-in hybrids not only exists, but is larger and more immediate than they think.

A range of speakers at the event stressed the feasibility of the plug-in architecture, and its environmental and energy-supply benefits.

Nothing has to be invented to produce a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Everything needed is available: the power trains, the gasoline engines, the computer systems, electric motors and batteries. All we need is for one of the large auto manufacturers to step up to the plate.

—Dr. Andrew Frank, Director of the UC Davis Hybrid Electric Research Center

..This time around [compared to the earlier oil crises in the 1970s], people who are promoting plug-in hybrids...have it right with respect to the infrastructure. A lot of the changes that were going to be made in the 1970s required huge changes in the energy infrastructure of the country—that’s the problem with hydrogen now.

If I were to leave you with six words to remember from what I’m saying here...[they would be] forget hydrogen, forget hydrogen, forget hydrogen.

Massive changes in the energy infrastructure and in the transportation vehicle infrastructure would be necessary, whereas for a plug-in hybrid, we need a bigger battery, and yes, there is an infrastructure investment: an extension cord. Each family would need an extension cord.

—James Woolsey, Former CIA Director and Founder, Set America Free

There is no pure techno-fix to global warming. There is no automotive technology that will solve the problem without government policy. If you want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you need a cap... but once you have a cap on utility emissions, then you’ve shifted emissions from a difficult to regulate sector—250 million cars—to an easy to regulate sector—a few hundred large power plants. At that point, plug-ins go from being a good idea to being the single best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

...We are using more and more unconventional oil—unconventional is almost a code word for “dirty”—such as the Canadian tar sands...which increase total greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline substantially. People are even talking about turning coal into liquid fuel, which is a climate nightmare.

The flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid is the most environmentally desirable and practical alternative-fuel vehicle yet conceived. That is why they are inevitable winners in the marketplace over the next several years.

—Joe Romm, Center for Energy and Climate Solutions

The world is headed for an energy crunch. I believe that no solution holds more short-term promise than plug-in hybrids. I my view, it should be the policy of this nation to become the world leader in the development of this important technology. I pledge my support and I lend my support to this goal.

—US Senator Orrin Hatch

Other speakers at the launch event included: Frank Gaffney, President, Center for National Security Policy; Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy; and Alan Richardson, President & CEO, American Public Power Association.

The PHEVs under discussion would combine today’s gas-electric hybrid technology with a larger (energy) battery in place of the current smaller (power) batteries; a battery charger; and a charge port.

The resulting PHEV powertrain could provide an all-electric operating range of 25 to 35 miles or more, delivering an effective 80+ mile-per-gallon vehicle based on average driving patterns—with even greater petroleum-fuel economy possible utilizing biofuels.

Plug-ins could be recharged by plugging into a standard wall socket, delivering power at about $0.75 a gallon of gasoline equivalent at prevailing electric rates.

Such a vehicle could reduce gasoline consumption for the average US driver by 50–70% and reduce automobile emissions well in excess of emissions that might result from the additional use of power plants.

As outlined by Austin Mayor Will Wynn, the Plug-in Partners campaign has four components:

  1. A pledge of support through a letter or resolution from a city or participating entity;

  2. A citizens’ petition drive;

  3. “Soft” fleet orders or expressions of interest to purchase; and

  4. Incentives at the community level to help citizens and businesses purchase PHEVs.

The City of Austin to date has collected 11,000 signatures on its citizens’s petition, as well as soft fleet orders for more than 600 vehicles, many from private sector companies. For example, an area pest control company has pledged to buy up to 150 lightweight plug-in trucks, once they are produced.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has teamed with DaimlerChrysler to design and build a prototype plug-in Sprinter van that will be tested in a small number of American cities over the next year. (Earlier post). The vans, which have approximately a 20-mile all-electric range, will be outfitted with either nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries or lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries.

Already almost a dozen cities, 140 public power utilities in 33 states, businesses and a number of national policy groups have signed on at some level to the Plug-In Partners campaign.

Plug-in Partner Coalition members include: Alliance to Save Energy, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Clean Air Coalition, California Cars Initiative, and The Institute for Environmental Research and Education.

An additional component of the nationwide Plug-In Partners campaign is for electric utilities to help build a pool of funding in their respective communities to provide rebates to citizens and businesses buying the first round of plug-ins.




I really don't see what is holding this back.

The hybrid batteries have a large capacity but, unlike a pure electric, don't require any from outside.

how hard is it to add a socket to the hybrid and have a charger in the garage? Pure electics need a lot of external power to be useful, but a hybrid can gain from any amount.

Joseph Willemssen

With natural gas prices as high as they are, has anyone ever stopped to consider what all the electricity demand will do to heating prices? Plus, a plug-in proposal basically plays into the notion that we need nuclear power. It also takes away from the simplicity of hybrids vis-a-vis electric vehicles.

It could be a decent concept if it entails dealing with increased electricity consumption in a sustainable fashion.

There's lots of details to be ironed out (economics, added weight, etc) before this should be hastily adopted, or worst of all, subsidized by the government.


Sounds brilliant.
How many charges does the battery take ?
500 ? 1000 ?
If you want to use it every day, you will have to change or recycle the battery every 18 months - 3 years.
Better work on that one.

But basically, it looks like a very good idea,

Especially, if you use "smart chargers" which could be programmed to charge when there was an excess of wind or whatever "green" power was available.

They, you have a "wind - lithium" economy which is V green and probably achievable.

Else build some more nukes.
Just get over it and build them.


Sona Development (SDVC) has announced a rechargeable magnesium battery. Inconjunction with Tadiran Batteries Ltd., one of Israel's largest battery manufacturing firms, is ready to begin upscaling the magnesium battery technology for worldwide distribution. Laboratory tests have verified that the battery can be recharged over 3,000 times and can produce up to 1.1 to 1.3 volts per a single cell, with and a theoretical energy density higher than 200 Wh/Kg. The battery's overall performance has been independently verified by the U.S. Department of Energy. Moreover, the battery is environmentally non-toxic and non-explosive.
Something to think about!


Plugin hybrid would be using base load electricity (read would load their batteries at 3 AM) and gas doesn't deliver base load electricity. That is more something for wind/nuke. So natural gas prices wouldn't change


I find it amazing how easy it has been to sell the public on the merits of hydrogen fuel cells. Although I believe strongly that it is a flawed approach (like many others), more should be done to sell PHEVs as the perfect bridging technology towards these fuel cell cars, to take advantage of the "hydrogen hype". People should be made to realize that these electric components that are being developed for hybrids would have to be developed for fuel cell cars anyway. I think the average person wouldn't even realize a fuel cell is just turning that hydrogen into electricity to power electric motors.

One particular company that has been focusing on nanoscale lithium-ion technology has caught my attention, A123 systems (

If their claims of 10x the battery life and 5x the power over other "high power" battery systems, while providing the ability to recharge 90% of the capacity in 5 minutes are even HALFWAY true, think of the potential! And this is technology available right now - not 20 years from now. Given the delicacy with which one must handle liquid hydrogen, I can't imaging such a refueling taking much less than the 5 minutes needed to recharge these batteries almost all the way.

Can the public really be so hypnotized to believe that building an infrastructure to transport a highly compressed and flamable liquid to be more efficient than sending some electrons over an existing network?

Looks like the oil companies will be fighting the electric utilities over this business for a while. I know whose corner I'm in.


Something to Keep in mind and that is National Average Prices. If you look back an compare both Gasoline and Electricity prices from 1970 to 2004, you will see that gasoline has gone from $0.38 to $1.88 for a gallon and that electricity has gone from $0.02 to $0.08 per khr.

Links that might be of interest:


Cars won't be able to recharge in 5 minutes (a few cells, sure... but not 5000) but they will be able to charge as fast as you can deliver power to them. That will be the limiting factor, a house only has so much current and voltage, a specialized 'electron station' may be able to deliver quicker fills, maybe 15 minutes with ultra-mega current (or voltage depending how it's setup).


Here is the link to a previous a article that talked about charging in 5 to 10 minutes.

Harvey D

EVs with enough batteries for 20 - 40 miles + range extender (ethanol/biodiesel ICE genset, and/or add-on solar cells or eventually (but not too soon) fuel cell) = PHEV. This seems to be the best progressive approach to reduce fossil petroleum consumption and import by 75% to 85%. All the clean extra electrical power required could easily be produced from Wind, Sun, Biomass, Nuke etc. FORD Motors may be interested to mass produce such a vehicle as a way to survive. Feds and States should support development and accellerated production. It would be a win win needed approach.


Here is a link of a car that travels more that 240 miles on a single charge.

Joseph Willemssen

"All the clean extra electrical power required could easily be produced from Wind, Sun, Biomass, Nuke etc."

Nuke isn't "clean".


Nuke isn't clean?

Depending on how you want to do the math and slant the stats, NOTHING is perfectly clean. For example, look at all those emissions necessary to make the steel and concrete in the hundreds of thousands of necessary wind turbine structures!!!!! That'll take a lot of fossil fuel and greenhouse gas emissions!

Have you studied the emissions from coal vs. emissions from nuclear plants? After that, have a look at what is possible with advanced nuclear, with reprocessing resulting in an order of magnitude reduction in waste volume and final waste that will be not much different from the ore from which it originally came in a few hundred years (with regard to radioactivity). Its no contest. I'll take nuclear as a cornerstone to a fossil-fuel free future.


I would imagine that the # of charge issue would be managed like it is in the current hybrids like the Prius. In these vehicles the battery is tightly managed by the computer system so that it is never too highly charged or too depleted. In the prius the state of charge (SOC) of the NiMH battery ranges between 40-80%. Using this approach the battery lasts a very long time. The downside is that you only get to use about 40% of the available energy. It's effective and I would imagine that it would work well with a PHEV. Hell, if I could 30 miles out of the battery then I would buy gas maybe once every 2 months or so. Maybe less.


Could they not just have "plug in stations" at parking spots with a pay meter?

When you go to the super market you could just plug in, or an attendant could do it for you. A potentially lucrative business for WalMart and all.


done right this could be a home run.

To make it even better recharge with a pv system at home.

Joseph Willemssen

OK - then let's store the waste in your yard, since it's so "clean".

Do we have a deal?


I wouldn't discount nuke energy - it's gotten a very bad rap. Just like any other technology, it has advanced significantly in the THIRTY years since the last one has been built! There are designs that almost entirely eliminate the possibility of a meltdown.

Look at it this way - what has had a more severe environmental impact - the many Exxon-Valdez-like spills and MTBE seepage into groundwater that goes along with fossil fuels, or Three Mile Island?


...and to the previous comment of storing nuke waste in your yard. Would you feel more comfortable with a coal-fired power plant in yours, maybe even venting it's waste through it's smokestack directly into your living room?

Let's see - storing a small volume of waste deep inside a mountain, or dealing with billion of pounds of coal soot spewed into the air we breathe. Which one sounds easier to manage? Please don't try to counter with the new "clean coal" technologies that limit these emissions - they are few and far between, and there is quite a bit that gets spewed before the coal even makes it to the plant.


Why should you have to pay!? In Alaska, Canada, North Dakota, and else where, there are FREE plug-ins for your engine heater so that your engine will not freeze up. This service should be free if the business wants your business.

Joseph Willemssen

"Would you feel more comfortable with a coal-fired power plant in yours, maybe even venting it's waste through it's smokestack directly into your living room?"

We weren't comparing coal to nukes. The original list of "clean" technologies was wind, biomass, solar, and nukes. So compare nukes to those other technologies - don't construct some strawman and make some silly lecture about coal. I'm well aware of the tradeoffs with the different fuel sources.

If you're going to call something "clean" which produces large amounts of radioactive waste, then you need to explain exactly what your definition of "clean" is, since it's egregiously arrogant to leave that kind of material on this planet for thousands of years without having a way to deal with it. So that's why I propose that nuclear advocates volunteer to live with the "cleanliness" of their favored technology, if they're really so confident in how "clean" it is.

Nothing in the construction, maintenance/upkeep, and eventual decommission of solar and wind even comes close to being as dirty (and dangerous) as nukes. Let's not even discuss the security implications - again, that will go on for many generations past when you and I will be alive.

If there weren't realistic alternatives for generation, as well as efficiency to be wrung out of the system, then perhaps someone could make a case for nukes. But we have more than enough wind and solar resources, as well as inefficiencies in the consumption chain, to deal with this without resorting to a technology that has some serious downsides that cannot be mitigated.


I miss Hydro and biomass on any important scale has very big negatives

tom deplume

I wouldn't mind having vitrified nuke waste buried in my back yard. Circulate water around it and have free heat and power for centuries.

Harvey D

Gentlemen: I purposely included Nuclear(instead of hydro which is no longer availble in USA) in the potentially clean power list not to have to revert to COAL which is much dirtier. A few up-to-date nuclear power plants, for continuous power, could be managed safely. France has been using Nuclear as the main source of electricity for a very long time without a single incident. It seems that local cell phone high power TX antennae produce more harmful radiation than their 60 some nuclear reactors.

Joseph Willemssen

"France has been using Nuclear as the main source of electricity for a very long time without a single incident."

That's simply false. The IAEA has "The International Nuclear Event Scale", and one of the examples for Level 4 (which is an "accident", not just an "incident") is the fuel rupture in the reactor at St. Laurent.

Unless you're talking about Chernobyl-scale meltdowns (and thus not using the terminology properly), then there's been plenty of incidents and accidents in France.

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