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Plug-In Partners and AutoNation Join Forces to Support Manufacture of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles

11 October 2006

AutoNation, Inc., the US’ largest automotive retailer, has joined the Plug-In Partners campaign calling on automakers to manufacture plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

In September, Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, published an opinion piece in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, making a case for plug-in hybrids. (Earlier post.) AutoNation has its headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale. Jackson has also called for ongoing increases in the federal tax on gasoline in an effort to encourage conservation and alter buying patterns. (Earlier post.)

The development of plug-in hybrids could reduce America’s addiction to oil. These new hybrids would offer consumers a 50-mile all-electric range, get the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon, be fully recharged at night and deliver all the performance and comfort of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles without the damaging emissions. We believe Americans will buy these vehicles, which is why we want to sell them.

Next-generation batteries are significantly more powerful and can tolerate discharging and charging much more forgivingly than earlier versions. That opens up the possibility of creating a vehicle that will deliver genuine benefits to consumers and society.

—Mike Jackson

The Plug-In Partners campaign, launched in January 2006 by the City of Austin and Austin Energy, has attracted nearly 60 cities and counties, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore and Phoenix, as well as dozens of environmental, national security organizations, business and utility partners. The coalition is working with its partners to generate "soft" fleet orders to demonstrate the potential market for plug-in hybrid vehicles. It also has begun a nationwide petition drive for individual consumers to express their support and interest in buying a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

AutoNation is a component of the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index and has approximately 27,000 full-time employees and owns and operates 333 new vehicle franchises in 16 states.

October 11, 2006 in Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

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Well, the automakers are scratching their heads, wondering if there is a market for 100+ mpg. plug-in hybrids.

Now you have AutoNation, a $19 billion auto retailer clamoring for them. Add to that, Plug-In-Partners, with their wide spread support groups all saying up front that they would pay more for them. Hmmm. I wonder??!

Pleased to read that the PHEV believer group is growing fast and may soon be large enough to convince a major car maker to mass produce such vehicles. Who will it be?

Can it succeed without a new fossil fuel tax to raise gas price to $4/gal or more over 2 to 3 years and maintain it there?

"Can it succeed without a new fossil fuel tax to raise gas price to $4/gal or more over 2 to 3 years and maintain it there?"

No. Hybrid sales have cooled and SUVs have increased with the decreases in gas price. There will not be much demand for plug ins considering that people will have to pay a hefty additional premium to get them. Americans operate on short term economics not longer term considerations of peak oil or global warming. Al Gore says that fighting global warming is a moral imperative. Most people apparently disagree or haven't gotten the message.

Anyone care to speculate as to what plug ins will cost if, say, Toyota, decides to mass produce them?

The Fed could also offer a massive tax credit. It would also do wonders to have someone like the Pres step and address the masses with a security minded address. I think that such a message would probably gain a solid foothold with many of the folks who won't, for whatever reason, accept the compelling climate arguments.

If the technology is ready and a plug-in or EV can be made cost effectively then no new taxes or incentives will be needed.

Flex fuel Plug-in Hybrids are such an obviously good route for auto makers to go. Everybody benefits here; fuel manufacturers, American farmers, battery manufacturers, auto manufacturers, auto repair techs, earth's atmosphere and most importantly; our health. This should not be a niche technology but a mass produced, collectively accepted technology by all manufacturers and consumers. The battery sizes can vary, depending on range, budget, and size of vehicle. Luxery and base models should be offered depending on budgets but they should deffinitely be made asap.

t -

check out Felix Kramer's recent posts on HybridCars.com:

http://www.hybridcars.com/blogs/power/early-drivers
http://www.hybridcars.com/blogs/power/zevtech

My back-of-the-envelope guess is that a PHEV option for a C-segment car might sell if the premium on the actual sales price was less than $10,000. This is based on 25MPG combined (actual) for the base ICE-only version, 80MPG equivalent (actual) for the PHEV variant, 12000 miles per year, $3/gallon gas and a 10-year amortization period.

According to Mr. Kramer's blog: "The projected additional first cost over a similar internal combustion vehicle, manufactured in mass-production quantities, came in well below the $10,000+ numbers currently cited by automakers -- but above the $4,100-$6,000 projected in 2001-2002 by the HEV Working Group."

If all this is true, PHEVs are rapidly maturing from oddball technology to viable business propositions. Plenty of obstacles remain, of course, but apparently finding a sales channel is not one of them.

Could we, as a first step, re-deploy all the current direct and indirect Oil subsidies to the development of higher efficiency PHEVs and BEVs and production of improved batteries and/or ESDs.

Secondly, if we are serious about GHG and Global warming, we must reduce the use of all fossil fuels starting with Oil and Coal.

Alberta, with less than half (50%) the population of Quebec, produces 5 times (500%) the GHG thanks to use of Coal power plants and Tar Sands extraction activities, and the tendancy is getting worse. If Tar Sands extraction continues at the current increasing rate, Alberta may produce 50+% of all GHG in Canada by 2020.

A lot of that pollution will blow over the USA mid-west. The best way to curb the impending disaster is to reduce Oil demand with a progressive gas tax and put a new pollution tax on all Tar Sands and Oil activities.

Revenues form both taxes could be used to accellerate the production and purchase of PHEVs and BEVs and the production-distribution of clean Wind and Solar electricity.

Check with (www.PollutionWatch.org) for more details.

Without a significant gas tax increase this is all meaningless. A few thousand people each month will purchase PHEVs instead of 35mpg cars. The other 99% of US buyers will continues purchasing the types of vehicles that have pushed US fleet fuel economy figures to their lowest point since 1987.

"US buyers will continues purchasing the types of vehicles that have pushed US fleet fuel economy figures to their lowest point since 1987."

Not sure why people say that.

http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_09.html
http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_23.html

ZZ, your table 4_23 shows that new passenger car fuel efficiency increased from 27.6 mpg in 1985 to 30.0 mpg in 2005. It also shows new light truck fuel efficiency increased slightly from 20.7 mpg to 21.8 mpg over the same time period. So why do people claim overall fuel efficiency has not improved? Because today people buy a proportionally more trucks than in 1985.

20 years ago roughly 75% of light duty vehicle sales were passenger cars. In recent years it fell below 50%. Most of this is because people now buy SUVs and minivans instead of station wagons. Some of it is carmakers gaming the categories (e.g. the PT Cruiser counts as a light truck).

Anyway, if you do the math, a 75/25 mix of 27.6 mpg cars and 20.7 mpg trucks gives about 25.9 mpg total. A 50/50 mix of 30.0 mpg cars and 21.8 mpg trucks also gives 25.9 overall mpg. These numbers are not exact, but illustrate the point. I believe if you look up exact numbers you'll find overall fuel efficiency for 2005 model year was indeed the lowest since the late '80s.

http://www.epa.gov/oms/fetrends.htm

"Since 1992 average fuel economy has been relatively constant, ranging from 20.6 to 21.4 miles per gallon (mpg). Based on sales projections provided by automotive manufacturers to EPA, model year 2006 vehicles are estimated to average 21.0 mpg, the same as last year, but five percent below the fleet-average fuel economy peak value of 22.1 mpg achieved in 1987."

BTU per vehicle mile, all light vehicles
========================
1970 ….. 9,633
1971 ….. 9,609
1972 ….. 9,677
1973 ….. 9,733
1974 ….. 9,567
1975 ….. 9,462
1976 ….. 9,530
1977 ….. 9,357
1978 ….. 9,225
1979 ….. 9,025
1980 ….. 8,395
1981 ….. 8,152
1982 ….. 7,841
1983 ….. 7,743
1984 ….. 7,592
1985 ….. 7,538
1986 ….. 7,536
1987 ….. 7,320
1988 ….. 7,068
1989 ….. 6,909
1990 ….. 6,626
1991 ….. 6,378
1992 ….. 6,392
1993 ….. 6,472
1994 ….. 6,443
1995 ….. 6,365
1996 ….. 6,364
1997 ….. 6,323
1998 ….. 6,303
1999 ….. 6,370
2000 ….. 6,224
2001 ….. 6,158
2002 ….. 6,198
2003 ….. 6,109

http://www-cta.ornl.gov/data/tedb25/Spreadsheets/Table2_06.xls
http://www-cta.ornl.gov/data/tedb25/Spreadsheets/Table2_11.xls

So what I see is that it reached a floor in 1991, oscillated somewhat, but has slowly improved since then - about a 4.2% decrease in energy intensity. But relative to 1987, the numbers for 2003 are 16.5% lower.

What should be said is that there were huge gains in efficiency after CAFE rules were established, and small gains once light trucks got certain exemptions and favor in the early 90s (eg, import duties on foreign light trucks). What bottomed out in 1987 was the combined CAFE rating.

http://www-cta.ornl.gov/data/tedb25/Spreadsheets/Table4_17.xls

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