In a lunchtime address at the Plug-in 2008 conference and exposition in San Jose, California, Andy Grove, former Chairman & CEO, Intel Corporation, called for an urgent inter-industry effort in the US to convert pickups, SUVs and Vans (PSVs) to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) with at least a 40-mile electric range.
Characterizing the current energy situation as a “clear and present danger” to the United States, Grove said that an inter-industry task force comprising electric utilities, automakers, high technology companies and academia should develop a plan to have 10 million plug-in hybrid—which he calls dual-fuel vehicles—PSVs on US roads in 4 years, and then present the plan to the new President on 21 January 2009.
Grove said that societies and countries as well as companies can face inflection points, and that the US was facing such an inflection point now with respect to energy. Fungibility of energy sources requires the use of electricity in transportation, he said, noting that if the US converted 100 million of its largest and least efficient light-duty vehicles to PHEVs through a combination of conversion and new product, the US would reduce its imported oil need by 50%.
Key issues, he said, were infrasftructure, battery cost, carbon emissions and ramping production, but that he had been told that the program was “borderline do-able”.
Other recommendations he proposed in conjunction with his plan were:
A tax credit of 50% for retrofitting PSVs, with the cost offset by progressive licensing fees for all vehicles, boats and planes.
Free electricity use for plug-in PSVs for a period of time such as 2 years.
A new Federal court district to handle issues related to Intellectual Property in this field.
Automakers should adopt open source principles re: specifications and commit to not withholding warranties on the conversions.
An aggressive push by the venture capital community.
Support from the Small Business Administration to help conversion businesses grow.
A unified, and consistent approach to the US government from the task Force—i.e., no stovepipe lobbying.
Rebuilding our commons, he said, will require a co-operative, problem-solving attitude that incorporates the best of the Internet model. It will also require a level of urgency last seen in the national response to World War II.