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:
A pledge of support through a letter or resolution from a city or participating entity;
A citizens’ petition drive;
“Soft” fleet orders or expressions of interest to purchase; and
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.
Webcast of the launch event
Driving the Solution: The Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle; EPRI Journal Fall 2005