In a conference call organized by GM, Tony Posawatz, Chevrolet Volt and Global Electric Vehicle Line Director; Mark Duvall, Director of Electric Transportation, EPRI; and Bob Hayden, Clean Transportation Advisor, Department of Environment, City and County of San Francisco described the nature and role of the “plug-in ecosystem” required to support one million and more plug-ins on the road in the US.
Posawatz (who wryly referred to having read “someplace” about the Chevy Volt having some challenges, earlier post) said that GM believes there are four pillars that make up a plug-in ecosystem and that must be in place to assure the Volt’s successful commercial launch:
|Webchat With GM’s Britta Gross, Director of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Commercialization|
|Date: Friday, 3 April|
Time: 4:00 PM EDT (1:00 PM PDT, 8:00 PM GMT)
|GM’s Britta Gross, Director of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Commercialization will participate in a webchat tomorrow to field questions about the development of the plug-in ecosystem.|
|Those wishing to participate will be able to tie into the multi-site webchat from Green Car Congress tomorrow, as well as directly on GM’s FastLane Blog, the EV World site, or the GM-Volt site.|
|Bookmark this post and return to it tomorrow if you wish to participate, the viewer is at the bottom.|
- Relevant plug-in vehicles that drive customer demand and are connected;
- Enabling technologies like advanced batteries and sophisticated software controls;
- A capable/green grid; and,
- Plug-in ready communities with supporting policies.
GM is focused on the first two pillars: leading plug-in technology vehicles and the enabling technologies. For the others, it is partnering with organizations like the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to focus on electric power generation, delivery and use, and working with communities, such as San Francisco, to ensure the development of integrated policies that will streamline adoption for consumers.
|“One million plug-ins don’t happen without significant partnering, coordination and effort.”|
At the Washington Auto Show in February, for example, GM suggested a partial draft checklist of stakeholders and enablers to help guide cities in making their regions plug-in friendly. (Earlier post.)
|Percentage of 2010 electricity consumption required by 10M plug-ins. Source: EPRI. Click to enlarge.|
Mark Duvall of EPRI said the grid would be able to handle “as many [plug-ins] as you want.” Ten million Chevrolet Volts (or equivalent) on the road would account for approximately 0.8% of projected 2010 electricity consumption in the US. There is, he said, “no real practical limit” as to how many vehicles the grid can handle because the grid is constantly adapting to new loads.
In addition, he said, the marginal sources that would handle the upswing from vehicle charging are “significantly cleaner” than the national average. Most new capacity is now combined cycle natural gas or renewable (almost entirely wind).
In the long-term, Duvall said, EPRI sees about a 500 million ton CO2 per year reduction for auto industry “almost entirely due to replacement of gasoline with lower carbon electricity.”
|The charging pyramid. Source: EPRI. Click to enlarge.|
EPRI sees the charging infrastructure as a pyramid. Most charging will be residential; the lowest-cost electricity will be at home off-peak.
The most important place for utilities to engage is to help vehicle purchasers who are their customers and rate payers get the charging equipment installed as conveniently and as quickly as possible.—Mark Duvall
Next is charging at the workplace, followed by “the most difficult problem” of public charging. “Public charging is difficult, expensive, and we’re not sure how we are going to handle it. We know we need it,” he said. Three possible approaches he outlined are:
- Municipalities handle it as a public good (similar to stoplights, etc.);
- Utilities do it; or
- Startup companies operate chargers in the area.
|“There is a lot of coordination that has to take place to move forward in a systematic and comprehensive way.”|
Based on San Francisco’s experience, Bob Hayden outlined a number of steps required for communities to become plug-in ready. First is having a champion would can lead the effort and bring together the requisite agencies. In San Francisco, the champion is Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is determined for the city to become a leading center for plug-ins. (One reason for that, Hayden noted, is that in San Francisco, transportation contributes more than 50% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.)
Particularly critical for the Bay Area, he said, is to build a 9-county market.
A single city, even San Francisco, is not going to be able to achieve the type of market momentum by itself that is necessary. We want to get all the municipalities working together to have the same type of goals, harmonize our efforts for things like permitting, and get fleet managers together to get a critical of buying power. The concept that Tony [Posawatz] used of a plug-in ecosystem is perfect for what we are trying to do.—Bob Hayden
GM’s plug-in ecosystem concept and efforts also drew a positive response from long-time plug-in advocate Felix Kramer of CalCars, who was a participant in the call:
Today’s briefing confirms GM’s giant steps forward. The company is putting together the pieces needed to bring plug-in vehicles to market—this time, broadly and successfully. We commend GM for its open-mindedness in embracing many of the concepts plug-in advocates have long promoted, which will increase its chances of success.
For instance, conceptually, they have a vision of a needed “plug-in ecosystem” enlisting cities, companies, utilities, and grassroots organizations as partners. Analytically, they’re making important distinctions between improving vehicle efficiency with hybrids and engine improvements compared to more ambitiously displacing gasoline with electricity from plug-ins. Linguistically, they’re talking about “plug-ins” rather than quibbling about plug-in hybrids vs. extended range EVs. In messaging, the’re aligned in communicating electricity’s benefits, compared to gasoline, as cleaner, cheaper and domestically sourced. And strategically they’ve confirmed they will bring demonstration fleets to some receptive localities before November 2010.
They’re doing everything right—and they’re clearly willing to continue adjusting their strategies to increase the probability of a win for all.—Felix Kramer
Plug-In Ecosystem Discussion with Britta Gross