Dec 22

CalCars’ Plug-In Campaign: Victory after 8+ Years

 

In 2001, I never expected when I started thinking about better cars that I’d devote a decade to a quest that began as quixotic and ended up as the best work experience of my life. I’ve met amazing people, and joined with them to start to turn around one of the world’s biggest and hardest-to-change industries.

Along the way, we’ve formed a coalition that inspires people to look for –and find! — points of leverage to move mountains. Our success shows what we need to solve two huge global problems — our dependence on fossil fuels and our uncontrolled experiment with our planet’s air and water .

That’s fortunate, since we have just a few decades to transform almost everything. We can succeed only by finding a path that unites unlikely allies around common goals — and shows entrenched interests how they can profit from disruptive change.

I’ll highlight some of my peak experiences, then consider the implications of the plug-in campaign for the giant challenges ahead.

IN 2001, having just sold a small Internet company, I was blown away by the Rocky Mountain Institute’s vision of 99MPG vehicles. I went to Aspen and began discussions about new ways to advance that project. On my way back, I found out I’d need surgery for a benign brain tumor. That summer, things could have gone many ways. I ended up with just one of two balance systems, no hearing on one side and poor hearing on the other. At 52, I could have thought my life had peaked. But this decade’s been my most productive and satisfying. I’m so fortunate to have had a chance to make a difference in as I’d always hoped to do.

In 2002, RMI’s Hypercar, Inc. co-sponsored the founding meeting of what became the California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org) in Palo Alto. There I first met many of the entrepreneurs, environmentalists, engineers, and EV advocates who’ve helped us immeasurably ever since. We started with a basic idea: Let’s figure out what cars we need, then round up tens of thousands of people to say to carmakers, “Here’s what we want, build it for us.” That’s how I described CalCars’ strategy the first time I testified as an unknown newcomer at the California Air Resources Board at the end of 2002.

Back then, I was still thinking about futuristic solutions that could be ten years away. But that same year, when I saw my first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) at the Electric Power Research Institute, after I recovered from the shock of an epiphany, I realized today’s technology could get us started. That’s where I met some of the visionaries in the utility and car worlds who’d been trying to get plug-in hybrids out of the ivory towers of theoretical designs and academic modeling.

Then I met Prof. Andy Frank of UC Davis, who had been converting vehicles to PHEVs for years and needed some outside evangelists. He’s been an inspiration to us all. Thanks, Andy, for NEVER giving up. PHEV fans had the great hope that the cars Andy has been dreaming of since before many of us were born would be in showrooms before he retired. Our wishes and his dream come true today!

How did this happen? We knew we needed to show people something real, and it wasn’t long after I got one of the first Prius hybrids in late 2003 that we realized we could start by adding batteries and charging to that car to make it a prototype. Fortunately, Ron Gremban was thinking along the same lines. He became CalCars’ Technology Lead, and we formed the

http://www.eaa-phev.org/.

Putting that car together in Ron’s Marin garage felt like setting sail for a new world. I have no technical background but I soon got pretty good at banging and bending copper. And Ron and I became great partners, each doing what the other couldn’t. It’s been amazingly virtual. Since April 2004, over 300 weeks, I bet we’ve been face to face less than 50 times.

We worked like crazy and agreed to a tough trip to Michigan to meet the chief auto reporter at The New York Times. When we’d unveiled the first PRIUS+ to the world, we got a giant wave of publicity. That started us on a media rollercoaster with journalists from around the world, and geostrategists like Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman, who repeatedly put PHEVs in his columns, book and documentaries. Dozens of international delegations came to see our cars. I went to Iceland and Ron to Belgium to talk about PHEVs. Now dozens of books feature substantial sections on PHEVs.

By 2007, conversions (for us a strategy to build awareness and support) became the rage, first in California and then all over, as utilities, elected officials and people who wanted to be first to have the “world’s cleanest extended range vehicle” paid lots of money to retrofit their hybrids. They provided battery companies platforms to test their components. Government labs got to document PHEVs’ benefits. It all led Austin Energy to launch Plug-In Partners to expand our “buyer pull” strategy with a national “soft buy order” fleet campaign.

Our open source approach meant we gave everything away. That included advice, plans, and techniques for physical installations and electronic solutions. Companies sprang up to install conversions. And government agencies began to think about how they were going to certify new and converted PHEVs.

That’s when our high-tech roots kicked in. Since 2006, we organized open-to-the-public conversion events by volunteer teams at five Maker Faires. That helped bring in high-power advocates like Silicon Valley Leadership Group. And we got more attention from Google, which supported us and other groups, assembled the first employee PHEV fleet, and brought in Enterprise Car Rental.

Along the way I got educated about climate change. It became so clear that electrifying transportation and cleaning the power grid were an essential and complementary global strategy. Then scientists like James Hansen and Joe Romm of Climate Progress began talking about PHEVs as a “core climate change solution“. By the time Step It Up (precursor of 350.org) started organizing global events to advocate for a rapid transition to a low-carbon future, our cars had become stars of the show.

Environmentalists were slow to embrace PHEVs and EVs. They bet on hybrids. When I went to back to testify in Sacramento in 2004, I said PHEVs were the “elephant in the room” when people were talking about increasing fuel economy by 20-30%.

Some were still hypnotized by hydrogen. Those who worried about coal-fueled electricity didn’t get that electric motors are four times more efficient than gasoline engines. When they noticed plug-in owners who had rooftop solar systems, they began to understand, as EV advocates have been saying for years, that “plug-in cars are the only cars that get cleaner as they get older, because the grid gets cleaner.

Soon media and experts started picking up on it. It was a thrill to join entrepreneurs and environmentalists in mid-2006 to help nail down legislative support for California’s global warming bill, and along the way to successfully pitch the importance of plug-in cars to thought-leaders like venture capitalist John Doerr, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Maria Shriver, and scores of others.

Once we had a car, we had a potent symbol. We also had a lot of fun finding ways to explain PHEVs and their benefits to people. Some things worked and some didn’t. We never came up with a better name than plug-in hybrid — which describes the design of the car, not why it’s a good idea. We found the slogan, “99MPG” didn’t work, but “100+MPG + a penny a mile of electricity” caught on. We got a screenshot from my dashboard to prove it: 124 MPG plus 123 watt/hours/mile for 50.8 miles.

Soon we boiled down our benefits statement to “cleaner, cheaper, domestic.” Then we tied each word to a constituency: plug-ins “tackle global warming, save money and revive the auto industry, and build energy security, all at the same time.”

We began invoking the idea that we were at a Pearl Harbor moment. In 1942, in one year, a giant American industry went from making cars and trucks to producing planes and tanks at a rate several times faster than they’d told FDR was impossible. Now, three score and ten years later, were fighting for the life of our planet, and to win, we need to rally like that again — at that speed and at that scale.

The fact that people could want this car for any of these reasons — or just to save money — helped spark an inconceivably broad, bipartisan coalition. Former CIA director James Woolsey said it best when he called it “a coalition of tree huggers, do-gooders, sod busters, cheap hawks, evangelicals — and Willie Nelson.”

We saw that coalition in all its glory in 2006 after we flew my just-converted Prius a to Washington DC to show members of Congress the opportunities from existing technology. That’s when we realized that the short “dongle” cable that linked a car and an extension cord could be a powerful symbol of one of PHEVs’ biggest selling points: their ability to plug in anywhere without additional infrastructure or new technology. The legislators who left their offices to see the car acted like the dongle was a sacred object, passing it from person to person as they addressed the audience and the cameras. We’ve presented dongles to dozens of new PHEV advocates as placeholders for a charged-up future.

The press relied on our analyses of every statement by each automaker about PHEVs. We tracked their advances in fits and starts, from denial to put-down to cautious interest, and eventually to acceptance, advocacy, and now, advertisements!

Back in 2004, we told Toyota, “Watch what we’re going to do to improve your hybrid; we’re not asking your permission.” In 2006, architect/designer Bill McDonough brought us to Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, and we tried to get them to be first with a production PHEV. Then when GM announced the Volt as a concept car in early 2007, we switched gears. We began to cheer on all the carmakers and spread the idea, which journalists enthusiastically picked up, of a new race in the auto industry.

GM came out swinging, determined to do things differently. The company embraced transparency. GM opened its labs and welcomed tough questions at press conferences. It recognized plug-in advocates as its allies, and encouraged amazing new communications channels like GM-Volt.com, which never misses a nuance. We kept up the pressure, reassuring those who’d been most bruised by the death of the last wave of electric cars that strong advocates throughout the auto industry were now coming into their own.

One of my favorite afternoons came in August 2008, when the Volt’s Vehicle Line Director, Tony Posawatz, came out to San Francisco and met with a dozen plug-in advocates and drivers to brainstorm and see our cars. We loved exchanging ideas that day. And 28 months later, it looks like some of our suggestions are in this great new car.

In 2006-09 we had the pleasure of seeing two Presidents and legions of candidates and elected officials jump to get photographed in and around PHEVs. It often felt unreal, as did the $7,500 buyer incentives and large loan manufacturing loan and research programs begun under the previous administration and since expanded. And ove time, people stopped separating PHEVs and EVs, and talked instead of plug-ins — the goal being to displace as much petroleum with electricity as possible.

Today we begin a new journey. We new owners and continuing advocates have our work cut out for us, showing off the new plug-in cars, telling everyone what we like about them and what could be improved, combatting misinformation, and working in every way to accelerate their arrival at scale.

In October, 2009 we declared victory on our first goal: getting mass-produced PHEVs. It’s really great to win! We owe it to so many people everywhere.

Now we’re starting all over on a new goal: retrofitting tens of millions of vehicles already on the road. We need to do this because putting a few million new plug-in cars on the road in the next few years — or 10 or 20 million in a decade — while absolutely essential, will make little more than a ripple within the 250 million vehicles in the US and 900 million in the world today.

Cars are part of the built environment. They stay on the road for decades. Just as we need to retrofit our homes, offices and factories, we need to “fix” lots of gas-guzzlers. CalCars and Andy Frank have a few allies like Intel founder Andy Grove who “get” the importance of this approach. We’re demonstrating there are technical solutions and a business case to do it. We promote startup conversion companies, but it’s happening too slowly. We need entrepreneurs and advocates to make the cause their own urgent priority.

We’re calling this “The Big Fix” campaign. Eventually, converters will need to partner withautomakers. Without them, the volume of conversions can’t get big fast enough.

In this and every case, scale and finding new ways to solve our problems together is the whole game. Change agents need to find points of leverage among the richest and most powerful institutions throughout the world, to peel off those that are at all receptive and find ways to make it worth their while to abandon business as usual. That’s what happened when Liggett & Myers broke ranks with the tobacco industry in 1996, and it’s already starting to happen among coal-based utilities.

In October 2010, I spoke to top officials in the oil industry. I said we had to find some way to work together. Because sooner or later they’ll notice that though they’re making tons of money, our country is going broke paying for oil. (Recessions follow every major oil price rise.) And the U.S. military will show them it’s starting to get off oil that costs $400 a gallon — and the lives of many in convoys — to deliver to the battlefield. And their families will tell them that our extreme weather is increasingly unprecedented and deadly. They’ll accept we already have millions of climate refugees from New Orleans to Pakistan, and they’ll understand how millions more will become desperate for water as the Himalayan and other icepacks melt.

This fall, fresh from the BP catastrophe, I urged industry leaders to truly go beyond petroleum, to find business opportunities locking up hydrocarbons in plastic, fibers and building materials, drill for geothermal energy, and invest in biofuels from algae. They have billions to invest and giant business profit and job creation opportunities.

The free market is a myth that hides massive subsidies and decisions. We’ve always picked economic and technology winners — in Silicon Valley, the radio, aerospace, semiconductor and internet industries all thrived because we knew we needed them. It will take a combination of regulations and incentives, just like it always has. If we can’t find a way in Washington, on Wall Street, at many international institutions, to get oil and other key sectors to change course, as we’re now doing in the auto industry, we will all lose. We need to make them an offer they can’t refuse: evolve and make money in new ways instead of pulling down the walls around us all.

The other side of picking winners is that coal is a sure loser. Even if there’s a way to get “clean coal’ (meaning CO2, not other emissions), it can’t scale in time. We need to find ways to close coal plants globally as soon as that doesn’t result in blackouts. Once again, it will take a combination of regulations and incentives — and in this case, as Google puts it, making RERenewable Energy Cheaper than Coal.

That’s the challenge. I’ve talked since 2005 about how to raise awareness about the climate crisis. We’d understand it if we could envision it as a giant asteroid heading towards the earth. We could unite against such a clear external threat. But climate change is too slow and too abstract — until it isn’t. People who are now calling themselves “climate hawks,” who won’t settle for powerlessness, need to be joined by everyone who wants a livable world.

I’ve given recruitment talks about the plug-in campaign and The Big Fix to smart people trying to figure out what to do with their lives at business and engineering schools at Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley, at middle schools and high schools, at Earth Day events and large and small green and energy security strategy sessions. I can imagine no more satisfying or useful activity, no better career to pursue, than advocacy for renewable energy and cleantech solutions to rescue our planet.

Here are the quotes that have sustained and inspire me, in the order they were first said:

* “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi
* “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
* “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay
* [When we say throw away,] there is no ‘away’–everything is part of a cycle — Bill McDonough
* “Reinvent fire” — Amory Lovins

And I thank all of you who care enough to have wanted to read this for all you’ve done and will go out and do.

Felix Kramer is the Founder of CalCars.org. His family’s two cars will soon be a Chevy Volt and a Nissan LEAF.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 at 7:22 am and is filed under Launch, Op-ed, Politics, Volt Nation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 150


  1. 1
    Herm

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (7:48 am)

    Congratulations Felix and CalCars, it has been a long road.

    We tend to make fun of other plug-ins in this forum, but hopefully its all meant in good fun, we need all of them to be successful. The low hanging fruit on the tree of oil independence are the millions of light-duty pickups on the road.. many companies are working on it but we need cost effective plug-in conversion packages for them.. perhaps something integrated into the driveshaft or the rear differential.. or it could even be a retrofitted GM BAS+ system under the hood.


  2. 2
    Rashiid Amul

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (7:56 am)

    Felix, I think you win the award for the longest post. :)
    Now I will go back up and read it.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:01 am)

    Wow! I loved reading about your involvements. I was inspired by the focus across ideologies.

    “Soon we boiled down our benefits statement to ‘cleaner, cheaper, domestic.’ Then we tied each word to a constituency: plug-ins ‘tackle global warming, save money and revive the auto industry, and build energy security, all at the same time.’ ”

    Thanks for the history driving toward the future.


  4. 4
    John

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:04 am)

    Plug ‘em in! Good story.

    And, I read this in Yahoo’s business news today:

    SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices rose above $90 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude supplies dropped more than expected for a second week, which suggests demand is improving.


  5. 5
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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:06 am)

    Herm: The low hanging fruit on the tree of oil independence are the millions of light-duty pickups on the road

    I drive a 2002 Toyota Tacoma. I was really hoping Phoenix Motorcars would pan out. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a pickup built on Voltec?!


  6. 6
    Herm

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:28 am)

    “The other side of picking winners is that coal is a sure loser. Even if there’s a way to get “clean coal’ (meaning CO2, not other emissions), it can’t scale in time. We need to find ways to close coal plants globally as soon as that doesn’t result in blackouts. Once again, it will take a combination of regulations and incentives — and in this case, as Google puts it, making RERenewable Energy Cheaper than Coal.”

    Please dont double the cost of electricity from $0.11 to $0.22, as has happened in many places in the world with out-of-control greens.. retired citizens of the geezer persuasion often live on a fixed income.. something has to give when electricity gets expensive.

    Coal will be with us for a long time, we have lots of it and it makes a wonderful source for industrial chemicals and liquid fuels, stuff that we will ALWAYS need.. by all means clean it up, no sulfur, mercury or radioactive emissions.. perhaps we will need the CO2 one day to ameliorate the coming ice age :)

    Recently I read that CTL (coal to liquid conversion, how the NAZI partially fueled their war machine) becomes competitive with oil at $40-$55 a barrel.. we are way past that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer–Tropsch_process

    American industrial power is based on finding uses for what was previously considered waste.


  7. 7
    Herm

     

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:39 am)

    Jason:
    I drive a 2002 Toyota Tacoma.I was really hoping Phoenix Motorcars would pan out.Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a pickup built on Voltec?!

    Have you seen AltE?, a pure serial architecture for retrofitting commercial fleet pickups and other vehicles.. they even use a GM 4 cyl engine for the genset.

    http://altellc.com/


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    Mikeinatl

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:43 am)

    Major societal change happens not because everyone gets together and decides “this will be better for us all”, but because millions of people all look at something and say “this is better for me”. Individual human nature is the fundamental driving force.

    Voltec is like that. If you had the ability to “refuel” much more cheaply and conveniently in your garage for most of your driving, could anybody ever talk you into giving that up for much more expensive trips to the gas station? It would be a very hard thing to try to sell.

    People will buy Voltec because it is a better way for them in their own lives.
    That it happens to be far better for us all and for our planet is just a happy side effect of their choice.


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    ziv

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:52 am)

    Man, hire that guy an editor. There were 4 or 5 good paragraphs somewhere between all those photographs and verbiage. And coal is such a tough nut to crack, it is cheap and we have a lot of it. I hope we continue to use less of it every year and that we increase our nuclear power generation while we grow wind, tidal and solar. If renewables ever get cheaper than coal then we can feel free to change our minds and our energy sources. But cheap, abundant energy is a pretty good indicator of a healthy economy.
    But Felix is delivering the goods and I have little doubt that GM did take a lot of advice from his crew.


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    Tom

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:54 am)

    OK I am in northern ILL where and how much to convert my Prius.
    Tom


  11. 11
    Rashiid Amul

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:58 am)

    From the article
    Cars are part of the built environment. They stay on the road for decades. Just as we need to retrofit our homes, offices and factories, we need to “fix” lots of gas-guzzlers.

    Does it make sense to do a “Cash for non-plugins” program?
    Similar to “Cash for clunks” program.


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    Jason

     

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:08 am)

    Herm: Have you seen AltE?

    @Herm – Thanks for the link! I hadn’t heard of AltE. Looks like they have a nice retrofit solution. I couldn’t tell if they take up the bed for the battery bank. Do you know what the price range might be for a pickup like mine?


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    2Snowboard

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:10 am)

    Well it’s good to see the hard core greenies like the Volt as well. Glad you took a sentence to champion GM-Volt.com as the rest of the novel felt overly self congradulatory.

    Just to point out one flaw in the logic, you claim clean coal can’t get up to scale in time, then ignore that all the alternatives will take even longer with far greater expense and less output. Obviously your group is a bunch of lefty Boomers and thats fine, but when you overstate the case with chicken little urgency, you diminish the argument that many others could otherwise agree on. (Also you had the 1942 paragraph in there twice)


  14. 14
    nasaman

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:12 am)

    Rashiid Amul: From the article
    Cars are part of the built environment. They stay on the road for decades. Just as we need to retrofit our homes, offices and factories, we need to “fix” lots of gas-guzzlers.

    Does it make sense to do a “Cash for non-plugins” program?
    Similar to “Cash for clunks” program

    Great idea, Rashiid!

    …And it’s called “Cash for Conversions” —the name used by CalCars and adopted by President Obama in a speech this June proposing an initiative called “Drive Star” to “Cut Oil Use in Half by 2020″*

    * http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1103.html


  15. 15
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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:13 am)

    From the article
    The other side of picking winners is that coal is a sure loser. Even if there’s a way to get “clean coal’ (meaning CO2, not other emissions), it can’t scale in time. We need to find ways to close coal plants globally as soon as that doesn’t result in blackouts. Once again, it will take a combination of regulations and incentives — and in this case, as Google puts it, making RERenewable Energy Cheaper than Coal.

    This will be very difficult to achieve.
    This will become a jobs issue real quick. We have many people working in the coal industry.
    How do we replace those jobs? The “white collar” jobs might not be so bad, but what about the people that work inside the mines? How do we get them new jobs?
    I don’t disagree that coal needs to go away, but this is a battle that I think is strictly uphill.


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    John

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:15 am)

    Rashiid Amul
    Does it make sense to do a “Cash for non-plugins” program?
    Similar to “Cash for clunks” program.

    Makes perfect sense. In fact, I’d like to have seen 7500 tax break broken down like $4K tax break and “up to $3,500 extra cash back” for tradeins if the mpg is < 20. Such as "your trade-in value is $4K but we will give you $7500 when you trade it in on a Volt". I know that dealers who got screwed by the cash-for-clunker program (not getting re-paid by govt. entities) so who knows if they'd buy in on that again.

    The real incentive should be self-interest first (savings on fuel cost, need a new car, like the technology) – second (environment) and third "everything else". If someone's #1 goal in getting a Volt is to save the environment, then they probably should just a job close to home and not drive as much, eat less food, have fewer children and anything else goes along with making the environment #1. Most EV owners are trying to use less resources as they have fun and probably don't want to stop having fun in order to save the environment.

    As for coal – we have to use coal worldwide for decades to come, so we still have to get used to it as an electricity-producing resource. Just make the burning process cleaner. I think we should also try to crank-up the trash-to-steam plants too, keep pushing Solar usage and develop great battery storage for Solar PV power. Too bad Solar still is a little highly priced – get it down to $4/installed watt and things would start to ramp up fast.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:19 am)

    hymotion.com is one example.

    Back in 2006 they were also promoting an “L12″ package for the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Appears that it’s been dropped. When I bought my wife’s 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid, it was with the potential to expand it’s capabilities later. While Ford may be coming out with a PHEV SUV in 2012 or shortly after, at this time the wife would like a GMC Terrain or Chevy Traverse. SIDI makes it (Terrain) competitive with the current Escape Hybrid for highway mpg.

    Paid off the Honda Civic Hybrid. Now just a matter of Volt allocation…

    Tom: OK I am in northern ILL where and how much to convert my Prius.Tom  (Quote)  (Reply)


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    Muv666

     

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:28 am)

    Thank you for this inspiring article and what you and your team have been working toward.


  19. 19
    Nelson

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:39 am)

    “Now we’re starting all over on a new goal: retrofitting tens of millions of vehicles already on the road. We need to do this because putting a few million new plug-in cars on the road in the next few years — or 10 or 20 million in a decade — while absolutely essential, will make little more than a ripple within the 250 million vehicles in the US and 900 million in the world today. “

    That is a prodigious goal, and I wish you the best. I feel our mantra NPNS “No Plug – No Sale” also did and continues to represent the financial power the public has over what is built and sold.

    If car buyers only buy Volts, we would see GM quickly distribute the VOLTEC powertrain to other vehicles and brands. Hopefully the scenario won’t need to be that drastic for GM and other auto manufactures to understand what the public wants. I wonder how long before the Volt becomes GM best-selling car. I don’t say “if” because I know it will.

    NPNS!


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    LRGVProVolt

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:54 am)

    A clear and powerful statement on where we are now and where we have to go in the future.

    Happy trails to you ’til we meet again.


  21. 21
    nasaman

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:55 am)

    “Now we’re starting all over on a new goal: retrofitting tens of millions of vehicles already on the road. We need to do this because putting a few million new plug-in cars on the road in the next few years — or 10 or 20 million in a decade — while absolutely essential, will make little more than a ripple within the 250 million vehicles in the US and 900 million in the world today.” – Felix Kramer, above

    This makes sense, and if it can be promoted by a “Cash for Conversions” campaign from the Federal Government (see my post #13 above) to defray a substantial part of the cost to car owners making conversions, it could be very successful. An example conversion might be to retrofit any of the millions of FWD cars now on our roads by replacing both rear wheels with self-contained wheel motors/gens/brakes and a battery pack. These “poor mans” plug-in hybrids could have the rear drive wheels manually switched on until the battery needs recharging. Of course the normal gas engine & FWD would be available if/when needed, or the system even used for 4WD in deep mud/sand/snow. Depending on battery size, I could imagine as much as 20 miles range as an EV. For many drivers, including myself, a 20mi AER would dramatically reduce my gas consumption.

    GM, Volvo and others have worked on self-contained drive/braking systems inside wheels. One example called the “Active Wheel” from Michelin is pictured here…

    michelin-active-wheel-610c.jpg

    The Michelin Active Wheel contains virtually all of the components necessary for a vehicle to propel or stop: an electric motor, suspension coils and springs, and braking components. The only thing missing is the source of energy. Fed by lithium ion batteries, the Active Wheel’s electric motor will output 30 kilowatts of power—per wheel that is. That’s 30KW x 2 = 60KW, which is 81HP and max torque at 0 RPM. A car using only 81HP/full torque at the wheels won’t win many races, but it should certainly be able to keep up easily (even at freeway On ramps).


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:05 am)

    Rashiid Amul: Does it make sense to do a “Cash for non-plugins” program?
    Similar to “Cash for clunks” program. Rashiid Amul(Quote) (Reply)

    Because the first one worked soooo well?? Total waste of money we don’t have.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:12 am)

    Thanks for the great article Felix, and for your dedication for all these years. I’ve been on your mailing list for years and look forward you your updates.
    The enormity of the challenge of changing our transportation from gas to electric is daunting, and a minefield of unforeseen consequences.
    Although it’s a minority opinion here, I look forward to the day when alternatives to oil are able to stand on their own without government incentives. Until that day, we’ll need to rely on people who are committed to the goal of energy independence in *spite* of the (dollar) cost. It’s been said many times here that It’s *not* all about the money!
    Thanks again for your dedication to the cause.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Mark Z

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:21 am)

    I would buy a “conversion” to add more EV miles to the Chevrolet Volt.


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    evnow

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:22 am)

    Rashiid Amul: This will be very difficult to achieve.This will become a jobs issue real quick. We have many people working in the coal industry.How do we replace those jobs? The “white collar” jobs might not be so bad, but what about the people that work inside the mines? How do we get them new jobs?

    It is not really a “jobs issue”. A lot more people have been laid off for far sillier reasons. A lot of industries have disappeared in the last couple of decades.

    It is just a corporate profits / political lobbying issue. Easiest thing to do would be to make it prohibitively costly to operate on coal – so that they get converted to gas. Afterall people claim we have 100s of years worth of natural gas, right ?

    Ofcourse we also need to figure out what will replace the baseload power – Gen 4 nukes seem to be getting no traction in the US.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:23 am)

    It is time all groups stop hiding behind “global warming” , GW is more likely a hoax then a fact. Until all raw data is open for everyone to see, GW looks like a hoax.

    We need to stop thinking the government (really us) can afford to fund every idea some group wants.

    I think it is a great idea to move to plugin cars. But I do not want the government involved.

    I don’t agree people only do what is best for them. If that was true no one would give to any charity.
    This country is full of good people who will do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. But many of us do not like being told what to do.

    For many of us we want to do anything we can to cut pollution. But we are turned off by two things.

    1) Some group begging for government money or an increase in tax to create change.
    2) Groups who act like GW is a fact. When it is clearly not. release all the raw data if it is. Then lets have an open debate on it. Right now GW looks more like a Hoax then a Fact.

    Drop GW and you will get more support for plugins.


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    Jim I

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:27 am)

    My 2004 Chrysler Crossfire would be a great BEV as a second car to my future Volt.

    I have tried to find conversion info, but have not had much luck. The books that are out there are from the 70′s, when they are talking about using 6V golf cart batteries and are happy about getting 25 miles AER and a top speed of 45 MPH.

    It would be great to have access to information and/or people that have already done recent conversions, so we would not have to make 500 mistakes before getting it right……………

    NPNS


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:28 am)

    evnow:… It is not really a “jobs issue”. A lot more people have been laid off for far sillier reasons. A lot of industries have disappeared in the last couple of decades….

    It is just a corporate profits / political lobbying issue.

    I’m afraid I’d have to differ with you strongly on this. The coal regions of the Appalachian states rely *heavily* on mining and coal processing. So “jobs” is a very important part of the equation. The idea that “green jobs” will be created to offset the losses in employment makes a great talking point, but hasn’t been borne out by reality (check Spain). JMO.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:30 am)

    Tagamet: Although it’s a minority opinion here, I look forward to the day when alternatives to oil are able to stand on their own without government incentives. Until that day, we’ll need to rely on people who are committed to the goal of energy independence in *spite* of the (dollar) cost. It’s been said many times here that It’s *not* all about the money!

    WOW much better said then I did. You should be in washington ;>)


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:30 am)

    Rashiid Amul: From the article
    Cars are part of the built environment. They stay on the road for decades. Just as we need to retrofit our homes, offices and factories, we need to “fix” lots of gas-guzzlers.Does it make sense to do a “Cash for non-plugins” program?
    Similar to “Cash for clunks” program.    

    nasaman: Great idea, Rashiid!

    …And it’s called “Cash for Conversions” —the name used by CalCars and adopted by President Obama in a speech this June proposing an initiative called “Drive Star” to “Cut Oil Use in Half by 2020″*

    In my opinion, it is far too early for such a program. How many plug-ins are there? How many will there be within 5 years? How much capacity is there to perform retrofits? If we add up all the probable (even wildly optimistic) numbers for ALL EVs (conversions included) for the next 5 years, we may find that the supply of available cars is still a barely significant portion of the national fleet. In “Cash for Clunkers,” it was theoretically possible to supply all who responded with higher mpg cars; this won’t be true in a similar “Cash for Gassers” program for many, many years.

    This is not to say that some program encouraging EV use cannot be established; but at what cost? The Country is more than out of money. Perhaps it might be effective even if limited to a tax incentive. In any case, the scale must be much smaller, due to hard supply limitations.

    I also think that conversion will be limited primarily to commercial operators. Would you like to retrofit your beater, or get a new car? Thought so. People who look at the bottom line for companies will care less about this than about expense (and unless there’s an ad-campaign tie-in, “Global Warming” won’t even enter that equation).

    We’ve made tremendous strides, and it is a hopeful sign; but the overall journey we are on has barely begun.

    .


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:32 am)

    Tagamet: I’m afraid I’d have to differ with you strongly on this. The coal regions of the Appalachian states rely *heavily* on mining and coal processing. So “jobs” is a very important part of the equation. The idea that “green jobs” will be created to offset the losses in employment makes a great talking point, but hasn’t been borne out by reality (check Spain). JMO.Be well and Merry Christmas!,TagametLet’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Shame on you Tag bringing up real world facts. :>)


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:36 am)

    +1 to Felix Cramer and the CalCars crew. Lets hope your endeavors will be realized for a better world for all.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:37 am)

    I believe all mass changes happen by necessity, improvement or economy.

    Just as the movements towards Climate Change, EV, HEV, etc. failed, so shall many new ideas that fail to address the reasons why people change.

    Hint: It’s never to be good towards their fellow man, unfortunately.

    Now, if the EREV and plug-in hybrid movement fails let me suggest a different approach. Now, I love the Volt and think it’s a great revolutionary step forward, the price will likely limit its ability to change our current energy crisis.

    Now, there is a man out there that looked at the problem from the right perspective – cost and convenience. That man is Shai Agassi from Better Place.

    Now, while his business model is brilliant, I think there is one major flaw that might delay its adoption. That flaw is a requirement for an entire charging and swap infrastructure to be installed before the system can reach critical mass.

    Getting Better Place into the U.S. seems almost impossible, unless China goes forward. Then we must also jump in to stay competitive.

    Therefore, I propose the UTV (Ultimate Transition Vehicle) to address the major Better Place flaw while still allowing for the mass adoption of electrified transportation. This mass adoption can be achieved due to a business model that attacks the cost and convenience of the vehicle.

    The UTV is simply a Volt with a BP swap battery and network connection or a BP Fluence with a Volt-like gen-set (the one difference is that I recommend a pure serial hybrid to limit complexity and cost, even at the expense of a small percentage of efficiency).

    Why this is the way to go:
    1) Vehicle battery is owned by utility – thus, mobile phone-like model where driver pays by mile. This makes the vehicle price much lower, even free in some situations (long plan and tiny car).
    2) Infrastructure does not need to be completed for the program to start. Only a BP charger at the owner’s home and office need be installed. This is 80 percent of energy for most people.
    3)Swap station installation will rushed due to pull marketing. UTV owners will ask for more swap stations because each mile is cheaper, especially if you take into account the probable high price of gasoline over the next decade and beyond.
    4) The non-swap PHEV does not transition away from the gasoline infrastructure because it is still needed, in complete form. The BP model allows for and pushes a smooth transition to swap stations or quick-charge stations (can be converted when battery technology becomes available).

    Thus, when we combine two great ideas we end up with a system that eliminates the weakness of each at only a small additional cost ($100 parts according to BP – to add swap hardware) We end up with the ultimate transition vehicle. We end up with the UTV.


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    Dave G

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:37 am)

    From the article: The other side of picking winners is that coal is a sure loser. Even if there’s a way to get “clean coal’ (meaning CO2, not other emissions), it can’t scale in time. We need to find ways to close coal plants globally as soon as that doesn’t result in blackouts.

    There’s a big problem with this. About 1/3 of the U.S. population believes global warming is a scam. Another 1/3 believe global warming is real, but don’t think it will affect them much. So with 2/3 of the electorate against you, taking direct action on global warming is sure to fail. All you’ll end up with is lip service, and nothing will actually happen. Mark my words, cap & trade legislation will fail. Until more people believe climate change will affect them personally, nothing will happen.

    But if you look at the political demographics for Energy Independence, things change dramatically. When we look at the issues relating to peak oil, energy security, terrorism, and the economy, you have the support of many more people, perhaps 3/4 of the electorate.

    So when we talk of coal, remember 3 things:
    1) The U.S. has been called the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have enough to last for generations.
    2) A modern coal power plant powering an electric drive car produces less CO2 than gasoline.
    3) By moving to electric drive cars, we’re in a much better position to dramatically reduce carbon emissions as more people understand the real implications of climate change.

    Or to put it another way, global warming will be a big issue 50 years from now, but peak oil is already an issue, and we saw the first economic effects in the summer of 2008. In order to solve the issue of climate change we’ll need a way to pay for it, and that means a strong economy. With world oil production already at peak, and world demand is rising, there’s just no way to make that transition with an economy that runs on oil.

    In other words, we’ll have to fight the climate change battle eventually, but we won’t be able to fight that battle effectively until we win the battle of energy independence. So I see coal as a necessary evil short term. As an analogy, during WWII, we helped the Soviet Union to defeat Hitler, only to fight them in the Cold War. Similarly, we’ll need to engage the coal power companies near-term to win the war against foreign oil, but will probably end up fighting coal later.

    And by the way, you mentioned algae bio-fuels. The best way to produce algae is by using a concentrated source of CO2 emissions, like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGcLgE52rzw&NR=1&feature=fvwp


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:40 am)

    Starcast:
    Shame on you Tag bringing up real world facts. :>)    

    Sorry. It isn’t likely to happen again (g). Thanks for the kind words earlier too.
    Just to be clear, I’m as supportive of the shift to the electrification of transportation as anyone here. I *do* believe that it’s the way we need to go, and that the journey will be very long. We’ve taken the first steps on that journey and soon we’ll break into a trot.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:41 am)

    Two old sayings my, dad used to say. (I think they fit well here)

    1) Everyone like to tell everyone ELSE what to do. (or get the government to force others to do what you want)

    2) Topless bathing suits are great, as long as it’s on someone else’s wife. (as in “Coal job loss dosen’t matter” from some who is not in a Coal State)


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:44 am)

    Tagamet: Sorry. It isn’t likely to happen again (g). Thanks for the kind words earlier too.Just to be clear, I’m as supportive of the shift to the electrification of transportation as anyone here. I *do* believe that it’s the way we need to go, and that the journey will be very long. We’ve taken the first steps on that journey and soon we’ll break into a trot.Be well and Merry Christmas!,TagametLet’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Again I agree. I just believe good people will do the right thing just because it is the right thing. No need for govenrment force.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:52 am)

    From the article: “Back in 2004, we told Toyota, “Watch what we’re going to do to improve your hybrid; we’re not asking your permission.” In 2006, architect/designer Bill McDonough brought us to Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, and we tried to get them to be first with a production PHEV. Then when GM announced the Volt as a concept car in early 2007, we switched gears. We began to cheer on all the carmakers and spread the idea, which journalists enthusiastically picked up, of a new race in the auto industry. GM came out swinging, determined to do things differently.”

    To you Prius lovers/Volt bashers out there (who have been exceedingly quiet of late), FOREVER shut up. Change your minds or leave this site forever. This fellow echoes my own experience (with my 2 Toyota hybrids and my communication attempts with Toyota). Now listen to someone who has committed a good portion of his life to the issue. Toyota (and their Prius) are YESTERDAY’s news. This organization STARTED with their vehicle but the ho-hum reaction Toyota gave them in response is despicable. I have $70K+ of Toyota hybrid registered to me, but I am now their opponent- for exactly the reasons stated in this article. GM is the undisputed leader on the road to automotive tomorrow, while Toyota is stalled, off to the side of the road.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:56 am)

    Herm:
    Have you seen AltE?, a pure serial architecture for retrofitting commercial fleet pickups and other vehicles.. they even use a GM 4 cyl engine for the genset.http://altellc.com/    

    Another company that uses a GM powerplant is a newly formed company: “New EV company to commercialize Raser’s extended range electric powertrain; led by investor in Valence and EVI.”

    Carl E. Berg found Li-ion battery company Valence and “has strategic holdings in Electric Vehicles International (EVI), a manufacturer of electric light-duty vehicles, walk-in vans and medium-duty trucks.”

    http://www.favstocks.com/new-ev-company-to-commercialize-rasers-extended-range-electric-powertrain-led-by-investor-in-valence-and-evi/2328540/

    I’ve posted here before on Raser Technologies developments. They are now splitting off the automotive division. They will continue manufacturing Symetron motors and control systems.
    “The extended-range plug-in series hybrid architecture shown so far integrates Raser’s Symetron technology in a 200 kW peak, 100 kW continuous AC induction motor and power electronic traction drive; and a 100 kW PM synchronous generating system with a 700V lithium-ion battery pack and power management system. In the HUMMER H3, the generator is driven by a GM Ecotec 2.0L SIDI turbocharged engine.”

    Hope you find this link useful. It is one more example of venture capitol being invested in the ever growing new EV industry market.

    Happy trails to you ’til we meet again.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:00 am)

    I’m continually struck at the irony that such an important thing as the electrification of the automobile is laregly achieved by loons and misguided ‘save the planet’ radicals.

    The planet is fine (though certainly we are all better off with clean air and water), but the American economy is headed towards Total collapse. As we continue to spend ourselves to collapse and send high paying jobs overseas and import our energy on money we borrow from our enemies, total collapse of our way of life is very close.

    Yet people more worried about global warming (in Ohio we are headed to the coldest December on record) than the very collapse of our way of life are helping bring about one of the three things that have to happen to save our way of life by restoring balance to our economy.

    1) We must stop sending money overseas to import our energy, especially since in the near future the cost of that energy will greatly increase. EVs and EREVs are the biggest step to doing this, and as soon as the econmic realities are fully realized, just like in the 1942 example, we may see a 100% conversion of all manufactured cars to be either EVs or EREs. This would help create jobs and it can be more than payed for by keeping that oil money (which would otherwise reach a trillion dollars a year in 5 years leading to the final collapse of our economy) in our country.
    2) We must also do something to stop exporting high paying tech jobs because these are the jobs that are need to pay the taxes our government is not getting.
    3) We must pull in the reigns on health care spending (not do the opposite like Obama as done), as this is one area of austerity our country needs until our economy is healhy again. We must replace the idea that ‘the richest country on earth should provide unlimited healthcare to all’ to we must ‘find ways to provide cheaper basic healthcare and prevention for all’.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:09 am)

    Dave G: And by the way, you mentioned algae bio-fuels. The best way to produce algae is by using a concentrated source of CO2 emissions, like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGcLgE52rzw&NR=1&feature=fvwp

    Speaking of concentrated CO2, mix-in a bit of hydrogen plus heat and you can synthesize liquid fuel.. get double use out of coal.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:09 am)

    evnow:
    It is not really a “jobs issue”. A lot more people have been laid off for far sillier reasons. A lot of industries have disappeared in the last couple of decades.It is just a corporate profits / political lobbying issue. Easiest thing to do would be to make it prohibitively costly to operate on coal – so that they get converted to gas. Afterall people claim we have 100s of years worth of natural gas, right ?Ofcourse we also need to figure out what will replace the baseload power – Gen 4 nukes seem to be getting no traction in the US.    

    Evnow, I have lived in Appalachia. Those people are good people, but are dirt poor and a bit under-educated. I called some of them my friends.
    Jobs are a huge issue and coal gives these people a means to live. It is a very big deal for these people. They will certainly fight to maintain their jobs. If we are going to phase out coal (and I think we should), we have to replace those jobs.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:11 am)

    Tom W: I’m continually struck at the irony that such an important thing as the electrification of the automobile is laregly achieved by loons and misguided ’save the planet’ radicals.The planet is fine (though certainly we are all better off with clean air and water), but the American economy is headed towards Total collapse. As we continue to spend ourselves to collapse and send high paying jobs overseas and import our energy on money we borrow from our enemies, total collapse of our way of life is very close.Yet people more worried about global warming (in Ohio we are headed to the coldest December on record) than the very collapse of our way of life are helping bring about one of the three things that have to happen to save our way of life by restoring balance to our economy.1) We must stop sending money overseas to import our energy, especially since in the near future the cost of that energy will greatly increase. EVs and EREVs are the biggest step to doing this, and as soon as the econmic realities are fully realized, just like in the 1942 example, we may see a 100% conversion of all manufactured cars to be either EVs or EREs. This would help create jobs and it can be more than payed for by keeping that oil money (which would otherwise reach a trillion dollars a year in 5 years leading to the final collapse of our economy) in our country.2) We must also do something to stop exporting high paying tech jobs because these are the jobs that are need to pay the taxes our government is not getting.3) We must pull in the reigns on health care spending (not do the opposite like Obama as done), as this is one area of austerity our country needs until our economy is healhy again. We must replace the idea that ‘the richest country on earth should provide unlimited healthcare to all’ to we must ‘find ways to provide cheaper basic healthcare and prevention for all’.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    Great post Tom W +10


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:12 am)

    Texas: Now, I love the Volt and think it’s a great revolutionary step forward, the price will likely limit its ability to change our current energy crisis.

    Price is a huge issue now, but 5-10 years from now the price will be much lower. There’s nothing inherently expensive about electric drive. As unit volumes increase, manufacturing engineers will figure out ways to dramatically reduce cost with higher reliability. That’s the way most new technologies work.

    As a comparison, 10 years ago, most people still used CRT TVs and computer monitors. At that time, flat panels were impressive and desireable, but too expensive for mainstream adoption. Today’s flat panels use essentially the same technology as they did 10 years ago (LCD & plasma), but they’re much cheaper and generally more reliable. Nobody sells CRTs anymore. That’s what can happen with 10 years of manufacturing optimizations.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:15 am)

    flmark: To you Prius lovers/Volt bashers out there (who have been exceedingly quiet of late), FOREVER shut up. Change your minds or leave this site forever. This fellow echoes my own experience (with my 2 Toyota hybrids and my communication attempts with Toyota). Now listen to someone who has committed a good portion of his life to the issue. Toyota (and their Prius) are YESTERDAY’s news. This organization STARTED with their vehicle but the ho-hum reaction Toyota gave them in response is despicable. I have $70K+ of Toyota hybrid registered to me, but I am now their opponent- for exactly the reasons stated in this article. GM is the undisputed leader on the road to automotive tomorrow, while Toyota is stalled, off to the side of the road.

    Sadly, this happens to many companies. Without competition, companies don’t feel the need to innovate. They sit back and rest on their laurels. Look at Microsoft with the Internet Exploder 5.0 It stayed the same until a competitor showed up with something better. Toyota will wake up and it will start to innovate again. But GM has really blown by them out with the Volt. The rest of the automakers need to scramble in an attempt to catch-up. This scares me a bit because in their haste, they could produce junk and give everyone else a bad name.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:17 am)

    Texas above #32 – I am so sorry, I went to click thumbs up and I missed, should be +2 higher than you are now.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:20 am)

    Jason: @Herm – Thanks for the link! I hadn’t heard of AltE. Looks like they have a nice retrofit solution. I couldn’t tell if they take up the bed for the battery bank. Do you know what the price range might be for a pickup like mine?

    They were quoting kits to fleets of around $22k each, and about 13 hours per vehicle for conversion.. one of the incentives is that the fleet managers get a new GM 4 cyl Ecotec ICE plus warranty for their older vehicles.. apparently the batteries go under the bed, mounted on the frame rails.. these are full size GM/Ford pickups and vans, not Tacomas.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:21 am)

    Herm: Coal will be with us for a long time, we have lots of it and it makes a wonderful source…  (Quote)  (Reply)

    I’ll delete the rest of your discussion and insert…(wonderful source of) ‘planet death’

    To all that have commented here on the inevitable use of coal for the foreseeable future, listen up…

    There are ways around coal RIGHT NOW. I saw a cool episode of ‘Dean of Invention’ on what we can do with sewage. From some commentary, “In Rialto, California, Dean spent a day at the EnerTech Environmental SlurryCarb Facility which is a $150 million plant converting biosolids (sewage sludge) from five Los Angeles municipalities into high-grade renewable fuel. Poo fuel, or eFuel as it is correctly called, has heating properties similar to that of coal but because of its renewable nature, has zero net greenhouse gas emissions and is a viable replacement for fossil fuels. What an exciting prospect for poo.” And while it is not part of this comment, I’ll add (from the program itself). YOU CAN BURN THE STUFF IN EXISTING COAL PLANTS NOOOWWW!!

    Coal is a DEAD end. From black lung to collapsed mines to mountaintop removal (and oh yea, burning it, too), why would ANYONE want to continue with this death sentence when we have more than enough crap in this world to meet our energy needs? And guess what? We have to get rid of the (toxic) sewage sludge anyway. Our sewage is filled with all the left over pharmaceuticals that our bodies can’t process. Right now, we are gaining aquatic and marine life filled with statins, anti-biotics and blood pressure medication. Using sewage as energy production is a win-win-win, as even this concern disappears. Drilling for even one more pound of rocks you can burn is a lose-lose-lose.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:25 am)

    Dave G,

    Thank you, Dave G. for that brilliant and articulate response (#33).

    [+1] (wish it could be more),

    Jackson

    .


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:25 am)

    Tom: OK I am in northern ILL where and how much to convert my Prius.
    Tom

    http://www.fveaa.org/

    The Fox Valley Electric Auto Association (FVEAA) holds regular meetings on the 3rd Friday of each month. You do not need to be a member to attend.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:26 am)

    gmtx2652,

    I recommend that you keep the Escape Hybrid longer, and don’t buy the GM Terrain or the Chevy Traverse yet, until GM announces their Voltec-powered SUvs. Ask Felix Kramer about a conversion first for the Escape. Maybe it is available.

    I intended to buy the Escape Hybrid in 2009 because I wanted to convert it to a PHEV (I am an EE and I can do it myself). But all the local Ford dealers didn’t have the Escape Hybrid for sale, and were trying to swap the sell for an Explorer (too big for me), so I ended buying a 2009 Chevy Equinox, which I also want to convert in the future.

    Raymond


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:28 am)

    John: Texas above #32 – I am so sorry, I went to click thumbs up and I missed, should be +2 higher than you are now.    

    I hadn’t voted on that comment, so I went back and +1′d it to offset your slip.
    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    doggydogworld

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:35 am)

    I’ve followed CalCars’ work for many years and am a great admirer of your efforts and the impact you’ve had.

    I’m not a big fan of retro-fits, however. I think PHEV-capable batteries will be in short supply for some time and they need to go into new cars where they’ll do the most good. I am a big fan of requiring all new cars to be easily retro-fittable, with electrically driven AC, power brakes and so forth. That’d give us some optionality if we ever had a real petroleum crisis such as a huge middle eastern war.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:39 am)

    Tom W: I’m continually struck at the irony that such an important thing as the electrification of the automobile is largely achieved by loons and misguided ’save the planet’ radicals.

    Starcast: It is time all groups stop hiding behind “global warming” , GW is more likely a hoax then a fact.

    This is what I’m talking about.

    Many of the people who post regularly on this forum aren’t concerned with global warming, but are avid supporters of plug-ins.

    Personally, I believe in global warming, but I think peak oil will hit much sooner. In fact, I think we’re at peak already. I doubt world output will ever exceed 90 million barrels per day. Once the economy picks up, world demand will rise, and gas prices will go above 4$ again.

    So let’s stop bashing coal and unite around energy independence.

    Lardelli_09_04_23_1.jpg


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:42 am)

    Tagamet: Although it’s a minority opinion here, I look forward to the day when alternatives to oil are able to stand on their own without government incentives. Until that day, we’ll need to rely on people who are committed to the goal of energy independence in *spite* of the (dollar) cost.

    Depending on what you’re referring to we may already be there. But Felix is correct in saying that only the naive believe we have a “free market” devoid of government subsidies for almost anything. Every year billions of dollars of tax expenditures flow to the oil companies. Isn’t this a subsidy? Of course it is. You can produce electricity from wind at 8 cents per kWh, but the turbines are located on government land that the owner of the company gets to use free. Isn’t that a subsidy? You bet it is. How about cars? If the government didn’t spend trillions of dollars on roads do you think automakers would still have a business model? Would the cell phone industry be nearly as large if the federal government hadn’t given the spectrum away for free? Name an industry and there are lots of subsidies, and the bigger the industry the bigger the subsidy since the bigger the industry the more influence they can buy in Washington.

    As a theoretical matter I agree with your position. I just don’t see how you eliminate subsidies since they are so prevalent and interwoven into the fabric of our economy. What I see in practice is that people focus on the subsidies for things they don’t like while ignoring the other subsidies for the 99% of things they like or don’t care about. For example, why not equate, on a dollar for dollar basis, the tax expenditures for oil and gas with the tax expenditures for electric vehicles and then let “the market” decide? If you did that, since the expenditures for oil and gas amount to $3.4B a year, 480,000 people would be eligible for a $7500 tax credit for buying an EV every year. Would you be in favor of this?


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:42 am)

    To all interested in CONVERTING to PHEV, keep one thing in mind-

    These conversions are SUPPLEMENTS to the original equipment (at least that’s what my research has revealed thus far). The batteries gain NOTHING from regenerative braking. The car functions in a battery deplete mode until the add on battery is used up. That add on battery will not recharge one volt (no pun intended) until the car is plugged in again.

    I am not trying to dissuade you from converting, but this concept is what made me decide not to pump another dime into my Prius and instead wait for the Volt.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:44 am)

    I first learned about PHEV’s from CalCars.org, and I’ve been working on getting my hands on one ever since. It’s amazing to think that my family is just weeks away from the delivery of our Volt. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Felix Kramer and everyone at CalCars.org for your tireless work in advocating PHEV’s all these years. We’ll be leaving behind a better world for our kids thanks to all that you’ve done!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:49 am)

    DonC: Every year billions of dollars of tax expenditures flow to the oil companies.

    I’d like to see some documentation, please. In reality, oil companies send tens of billions in tax payments to our federal, state and local governments. You may feel they should pay even more, and perhaps they should, but that is completely different than your claim that tax money flows the other direction.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:55 am)

    Tom W: 1) We must stop sending money overseas to import our energy, especially since in the near future the cost of that energy will greatly increase. EVs and EREVs are the biggest step to doing this, and as soon as the econmic realities are fully realized, just like in the 1942 example, we may see a 100% conversion of all manufactured cars to be either EVs or EREs. This would help create jobs and it can be more than payed for by keeping that oil money (which would otherwise reach a trillion dollars a year in 5 years leading to the final collapse of our economy) in our country.
    2) We must also do something to stop exporting high paying tech jobs because these are the jobs that are need to pay the taxes our government is not getting.
    3) We must pull in the reigns on health care spending (not do the opposite like Obama as done), as this is one area of austerity our country needs until our economy is healhy again. We must replace the idea that ‘the richest country on earth should provide unlimited healthcare to all’ to we must ‘find ways to provide cheaper basic healthcare and prevention for all’.

    An addendum to #2 above. At just the one company I work for ALONE, this company has sent (i won’t say the number of jobs, just jobs times average salary), 240 million in US salaries overseas in just IT alone. Not even counting call centers and other miscellanous support tasks. Think about that over 5 year period of 1.2 billion in lost salaries


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:57 am)

    Tom W: …Yet people more worried about global warming (in Ohio we are headed to the coldest December on record) ….  (Quote)  (Reply)

    I have written enough about global warming and have pretty much decided not to bother with the issue anymore, …but…

    HOW WAS YOUR SUMMER?????

    People just don’t get it. Global warming means more SEVERE weather. I have two homes. The NY home on Lake Ontario saw lake temperatures RISE to unprecedented levels during the summer. In winter, we get to see that the (previously static in decades past) frigid air from the artic finds ample opportunity to make its way south. This means dramatic lake effect snow (cold air + warmer water= blizzards).

    Too many have memories that last just days with respect to climate. My FL utility tracks average temperature with respect to monthly billing. The summer was notably hotter while the winter was notably cooler. The numbers don’t lie. Global warming is NOT about the temperature ALWAYS being higher.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:00 pm)

    With all considered, what justifies California to ban the Volt from using HOV lanes? What justifies California giving tax credits to buyers of foreign made EVs, but not to buyers of domestically conceived and built EREV’s?

    Government fails when their actions are so narrowly focused that they lose sight of the big picture. Such lack of support for domestic innovation and manufacture is inexcusable.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:04 pm)

    Tom W: I’m continually struck at the irony that such an important thing as the electrification of the automobile is laregly achieved by loons and misguided ’save the planet’ radicals.

    I think you’re off your rocker with respect to global warming. Adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will raise planetary temperatures just as surely as adding salt to water will raise the boiling point of the water. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. We don’t need people to do the right thing for all the right reasons, we just need them to do the right thing.

    Lots of reasons to support destroying oil as a strategic commodity. I agree with your security and economic reasons, but even if I didn’t, I’d be happy to accept your support for our common goal. We don’t need to agree on the reasons or the order of the reasons. We just have to agree on what needs to be done.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:05 pm)

    Dave G: And by the way, you mentioned algae bio-fuels. The best way to produce algae is by using a concentrated source of CO2 emissions, like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGcLgE52rzw&NR=1&feature=fvwp

    In addition to fuel production, there are other creative uses for the by-products of coal; which advance the cause of environmental reform:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cement-from-carbon-dioxide

    “The turbines at Moss Landing power plant on the California coast burn through natural gas to pump out more than 1,000 megawatts of electric power. The 700-degree Fahrenheit (370-degree Celsius) fumes left over contain at least 30,000 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2)—the primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming—along with other pollutants.

    Today, this flue gas wafts up and out of the power plant’s enormous smokestacks, but by simply bubbling it through the nearby seawater, a new California-based company called Calera says it can use more than 90 percent of that CO2 to make something useful: cement.

    It’s a twist that could make a polluting substance into a way to reduce greenhouse gases. Cement, which is mostly commonly composed of calcium silicates, requires heating limestone and other ingredients to 2,640 degrees F (1,450 degrees C) by burning fossil fuels and is the third largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Making one ton of cement results in the emission of roughly one ton of CO2—and in some cases much more.”

    http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Foundations/fly-ash-concrete

    “Fly ash is a fine, glass-like powder recovered from gases created by coal-fired electric power generation. U.S. power plants produce millions of tons of fly ash annually, which is usually dumped in landfills. Fly ash is an inexpensive replacement for portland cement used in concrete, while it actually improves strength, segregation, and ease of pumping of the concrete. Fly ash is also used as an ingredient in brick, block, paving, and structural fills.”

    Intelligent usage of Coal will come from thoughtful, practical and economically-sound solutions.
    Insisting that Coal should just be simplistically “turned off” cold turkey, because it is “bad” and might “kill the planet,” smacks of political jingoism; driven by populist grandstanding at it’s worst.
    .


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:06 pm)

    Just remember GM … GM employees are the ones who built the first mass produced 100mpg + vehicle. It’s the hard working people at GM that have created this revolution… first with the EV1 and now with the VOLT. I would like to hear from GM employees.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:14 pm)

    Enjoyed todays writeup. Things are just not as simple as some would like it.

    We do need to quit sending our money to the Middle East.
    We do need to create a clean envirionment.
    We need to keep the government out of those decisions.
    The Market will solve all these problems WHEN THEY ARE READY TO BE SOLVED instead of when someone wants them solved.

    What energy source are you going to use?
    Natural gas????Aren’t you just delaying the solution???? I think we need to research clean coal and recapture of CO2 and recharge our oil fields with the gas. I think the only real solution is Nuclear. But both of these are politically impossible. Wind, solar and geothermal are all part time solutions.

    The government can insert themselves into these decisions but all that does is create THEIR winners and losers. Push but let the market play out.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:19 pm)

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:19 pm)

    Felix, Thank you for the history of CalCars and the efforts you have accomplished. Victory in getting PHEV technology into every new vehicle may require legislation. There will always be resistance to change when taking those steps, but eventually the people will experience the benefits!

    For example, I dreaded the upcoming incandescent lamp phase out because CFL’s start up slowly. But after trying LED “40 watt” lamps, I am thrilled with its superior instant-on technology.

    The next challenge is to make it easier for PHEV buyers to plug into cheaper electric rates. Dual meter panels in new home construction is a must, with prewiring to the ideal charging location. Rebates and credits for dual meters in existing residences will encourage buyers. Have J1772 chargers as common as the disability parking spaces. Rebates and credits for employers to provide charging for employees. Above all, more EV range. A minimum requirement for new PHEVs of 40 miles with optional expansion capability to 80 miles.

    The current success is a great start. Plug-in and turn people on.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:20 pm)

    DonC: …For example, why not equate, on a dollar for dollar basis, the tax expenditures for oil and gas with the tax expenditures for electric vehicles and then let “the market” decide? If you did that, since the expenditures for oil and gas amount to $3.4B a year, 480,000 people would be eligible for a $7500 tax credit for buying an EV every year. Would you be in favor of this?

    No! OR why not eliminate both. Arguing that “we already do that” rings very small when what’s being done is *wrong*. You continue to misquote me as supporting a “free economy”. I’ve never said that, and I’m not likely to start (g). All I’m saying is that the ends (as wonderful as they might seem to the, ahem, naive) don’t justify the means.
    Coal and coal related jobs generates ~$7.5 billion and 44K jobs yearly PA alone (Google it, I just did). Although the Coal Assoc quotes the study *a lot*, they were not the people who did the study itself (Alleghany Co).
    Just to simplify things, let’s have the govt protect us and build roads/infrastructure. At least that’s constitutional, and it seems like a good place to start. JMO.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:24 pm)

    Tex-Arl: I think the only real solution is Nuclear.

    I agree. However:

    We once had a poster here (his handle was “Nuclear Boy”) who worked in that industry. It was his take that it would require many years (decades) to meaningfully increase nuclear capacity, even with existing technology. He also thought that any move to research or implement something new (like reactors using plentiful-in-the-US Thorium) would be virtually impossible. The reasons for this are mainly inertia, plus a lack of political will.

    I would submit that anyone who believes in Global Warming is a supporter of Nuclear power, whether they realize it or not. Seems like we could use some help from the movement in this area, more so than in advocating against any existing power source.

    .


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:31 pm)

    Excellent discussion today and kudos to the (almost) uniformly courteous tenor!

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:33 pm)

    doggydogworld: I’d like to see some documentation, please. In reality, oil companies send tens of billions in tax payments to our federal, state and local governments. You may feel they should pay even more, and perhaps they should, but that is completely different than your claim that tax money flows the other direction. 

    Thank you for illustrating EXACTLY the disparate approach I’m talking about. You’re saying the oil and gas companies aren’t getting a subsidy because they are paying more taxes than they are getting in tax breaks. OK. Let’s apply this reasoning to the $7500 tax credit for EVs. I pay $50,000 in federal income taxes. I get the $7500 credit. Just like the oil companies, I’m paying more in taxes than I’m getting in credits. In fact, if I don’t pay at least $7500 in tax I don’t get the credits. So the $7500 credit for EVs isn’t a subsidy, right?

    In reality both are tax expenditures aka “subsidies”. It’s just that some people want to say that one is a subsidy and one is something else. We can claim that neither is a subsidy. That would be wrong but at least it would be consistent. But if we label the EV tax credit as a subsidy and say the oil and gas tax breaks aren’t, then we’re wrong AND inconsistent.

    As for the $3.4B a year, that’s an OMB estimate. You can look it up. Just Google “oil and gas subsidies”.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:39 pm)

    DonC: We don’t need to agree on the reasons or the order of the reasons. We just have to agree on what needs to be done.

    The security and economic reasons are much easier to demonstrate. The Global Warming is not. Remember the last ICE age was preceeded by a quick spurt in higher temperatures. The global weather is too complex for us to truly predict. For that reason you can never get a concensus on what if anything should be done about it. Much easier to just get people to agree that clean air and water is a good thing.

    But the economic security reasons should be easy to get the entire country behind, so thats why its important that we have a coordinated message, because most of the country is still caught up in thinking our problems are due to the rich paying too little or too many taxes instead of focusing on real issues like in post #38.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:47 pm)

    I understand the more subtle aspect of global warming means more hot days and more cold winters from time to time, but there are two main things that make we wonder about the veracity of the Anthropogenic Global Warming group.
    First, you would think that they would want the very best data possible, but they don’t seem to care that government weather sensors are horribly compromised by heat sources. Most of them fail to even come close to their own guidelines for thermometer placement and conditions around them.
    http://www.surfacestations.org/
    The other reason I really doubt that the IPCC and others are legitimate is that they refuse to reveal the data behind their forecasts. That is why the climategate disclosures were so damning, they show that the main scientists engaged in a conspiracy to hide their own data and to deny coverage to their opponents. Which is part of the reason they come out with stupid comments like the end of Himalayan glaciers by 2035, but on second thought, maybe we meant 2350…
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/IPCC-retracts-2035-alarm-on-Himalayan-glacier-melt/articleshow/5482397.cms
    Releasing this much carbon is not a good thing, but when you look at the larger picture, our increasing carbon in the atmosphere from 0.032% to 0.039% is small beer compared to deforestation and our increasing global population.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth

    flmark:
    I have written enough about global warming and have pretty much decided not to bother with the issue anymore, …but…HOW WAS YOUR SUMMER?????People just don’t get it.Global warming means more SEVERE weather. … … The numbers don’t lie.Global warming is NOT about the temperature ALWAYS being higher.    


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:47 pm)

    Tom W: But the economic security reasons should be easy to get the entire country behind, so thats why its important that we have a coordinated message, because most of the country is still caught up in thinking our problems are due to the rich paying too little or too many taxes instead of focusing on real issues like in post #38.

    make that post #40, as well as all the other posts that deal with real issues instead of the misdirection we keep getting from Washington.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (12:54 pm)

    Tagamet: No! OR why not eliminate both. Arguing that “we already do that” rings very small when what’s being done is *wrong*

    I would be more than happy to see all the subsidies eliminated. I’m all in favor of eliminating tax expenditures and lowering rates. However, we tried that under Reagan when he and Bill Bradley worked together to pass the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Twenty years later the lobbyists and politicians have done their thing and the tax code looks more Swiss cheese like than ever.

    My approach is that if you can’t beat them join them.

    The other point is that when you’re at war, and we are at war with the non-democratic countries that form OPEC, you need government to act. When Rome needed to capture Sicily from Carthage it didn’t sit back and hope the free market would come up with a solution. It built a navy. We need to destroy oil as a strategic resource. Since that’s a political not an economic imperative, we can’t afford to sit back and hope for a market based solution. We’ll never get one. What we need to do is to build a transportation system that doesn’t depend on oil. And to do that we need the government to be actively engaged.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:15 pm)

    Tagamet: Just to simplify things, let’s have the govt protect us and build roads/infrastructure. At least that’s constitutional, and it seems like a good place to start. JMO.
    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet
    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!! Tagamet

    I mostly agree but I think the Federal Gov should stay out of even building roads. Think about if the Feds had not picked the autos and trucks as the winner by building the interstate we may be useing far more trains and less oil. Or we may have some other way of travel. What? we will never know because the Government picked auto and trucks.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:16 pm)

    Iv been harping about conversions on this site for years and have been largely ignored. Im glad to finally see retribution from others that CONVERSIONS are the Key to ramp up speed in electrifying the auto. WE all cant run out and Buy new cars but MOST of us can afford say $10000 to retrofit our already paid for gas guzzlers. Add that $7500 tax credit in and it looks pretty good.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:17 pm)

    ziv: I understand the more subtle aspect of global warming means more hot days and more cold winters from time to time, but there are two main things that make we wonder about the veracity of the Anthropogenic Global Warming group.

    The problem is that in science you have a mechanism and a result. Most times you see the result but can’t figure out the mechanism. AGW is unusual because you understand the mechanism but the result is difficult to measure.

    We know that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere raises planetary temperatures. The average temperature of the earth is 62F. Remove greenhouse gases and the average temperature would drop to -2F. This result is reproducible in the lab and has been a known scientific fact for a very long time. Adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere raises global temperatures just as surely as adding salt to water increases the boiling point.

    It’s also a fact that by burning fossil fuel man releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    So that’s the mechanism. It’s 100% completely solid. Not really open to debate. Certainly not a hoax.

    What you’re arguing is really the size of the effect. Climate is very complicated and it’s difficult to tease out the effects of AGW. 200 million years ago there were dinosaurs at what is now the North Pole. 430 million years before that there was a horrible ice age with glaciers on the Equator. Obviously since homo sapiens weren’t even around at these times there are factors other than AGW which influence global temperatures. (A big volcanic eruption will knock global temperatures down a couple of degrees C for a coupe of years).

    While there remains great uncertainty the scientific consensus is that the AGW effect will raise global temperatures by 2C. That’s not a huge number, but, depending on how it effects other things like rain patterns, it could prove highly disruptive.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:20 pm)

    DonC: I would be more than happy to see all the subsidies eliminated. I’m all in favor of eliminating tax expenditures and lowering rates. However, we tried that under Reagan when he and Bill Bradley worked together to pass the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Twenty years later the lobbyists and politicians have done their thing and the tax code looks more Swiss cheese like than ever…

    So you are a Reagan fan??? Go figure. Never woulda guessed that. It *is* starting to sound like we agree on more than I thought we did.
    I’m more than a bit confused about your Rome/Sicily/Carthage reference. *We* didn’t wait around for a private enterprise Navy. We built one shortly after our independence was won (1798)(Actually 1775, but then disbanded and re-established). In any case, that comes under the “Protect us” part of the constitution, so it seems moot (or as some say “mute”)(g).
    At the very least, I think that we both:
    Want to reduce/eliminate US use of foreign oil,
    Want clean air and water,
    Believe that the electrification of transportation is a very good thing, and
    Vote regularly (g).

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:21 pm)

    DonC: What we need to do is to build a transportation system that doesn’t depend on oil. And to do that we need the government to be actively engaged.

    You could not be more wrong!!

    The government track record is not very good. If the Feds had not picked the autos and trucks as the winner by building the interstate we may be useing far more trains and less oil.

    What we need is the Federal Government to get the h*** out of the way.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:22 pm)

    Tagamet: So you are a Reagan fan??? Go figure. Never woulda guessed that. It *is* starting to sound like we agree on more than I thought we did.

    Best line of the week!!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:27 pm)

    Starcast:
    I mostly agree but I think the Federal Gov should stay out of even building roads. Think about if the Feds had not picked the autos and trucks as the winner by building the interstate we may be useing far more trains and less oil. Or we may have some other way of travel. What? we will never know because the Government picked auto and trucks.    

    That’s true, but after WWII we had an awful lot of people standing around with their hands in their pockets and not much to do. Given the size of our country and the existing technology, I don’t think that it turned out to be a bad thing to have an Interstate system of roads. You are right though – we don’t know what “Might have been”.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:28 pm)

    DonC: I would be more than happy to see all the subsidies eliminated. I’m all in favor of eliminating tax expenditures and lowering rates. However, we tried that under Reagan when he and Bill Bradley worked together to pass the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Twenty years later the lobbyists and politicians have done their thing and the tax code looks more Swiss cheese like than ever.
    My approach is that if you can’t beat them join them

    That is the worst approach.

    That’s is the same as saying things are bad so lets them worse.

    Or others have screwed things up, lets see if I can help them.

    Only one way to go!

    T axed
    E nough
    A ll ready


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    America1st

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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:32 pm)

    (click to show comment)


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:33 pm)

    Tagamet: That’s true, but after WWII we had an awful lot of people standing around with their hands in their pockets and not much to do. Given the size of our country and the existing technology, I don’t think that it turned out to be a bad thing to have an Interstate system of roads. You are right though – we don’t know what “Might have been”.Be well and Merry Christmas!,TagametLet’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!  (Quote)  (Reply)

    We can’t change the past anyway so what is important is what we do going forward.

    “if you can’t beat them join them” Makes me puke when I hear it. It is like a catch all to do anything wrong.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:33 pm)

    Starcast,

    Hey, I’m just trying to find common ground! Wasn’t it Reagan who suggested that the govt just needed to get out of the way?

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:34 pm)

    America1st: P.S., I didn’t start the politic thread. Reagan infuriates me as an American

    ..
    Clearly you did not live through the Carter years.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:38 pm)

    America1st: …P.S., I didn’t start the politic thread…

    This is the part of your comment that I agree with.
    When the discussion drifts to politics, not much progress is made here.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:40 pm)

    Tagamet: Starcast, Hey, I’m just trying to find common ground! Wasn’t it Reagan who suggested that the govt just needed to get out of the way?Be well and Merry Christmas!,TagametLet’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!  (Quote)  (Reply)

    That’s because you are a good person. I need to get back to work, So all the BIG Gov guys can bash away. ;>)

    Merry Christmas to all


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:41 pm)

    Starcast:
    ..
    Clearly you did not live through the Carter years.    

    Ouch! We now return to our very productive discussion of the Volt.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:42 pm)

    Starcast:
    That’s because you are a good person. I need to get back to work, So all the BIG Gov guys can bash away. ;>)Merry Christmas to all    

    and 2 you too! I’ll hold the fort (g).

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (1:59 pm)

    Starcast,

    Clearly I did live through Carter, and Nixon, and Kennedy, and Johnson. Since when did it become patriotic banter to allow nations who export to us while creating barriers on every front to american products considered pro-American – Reagan is when this started – open markets, one way, killing jobs here. Nixon never fell for that, nor Carter, nor Kennedy, Johnson, Ike and others. We’ve never recovered from believing every nation who signs a treaty with us actually will honor these – yet Starcast, just see how fast they take us to WTO when we don’t. I’ve served overseas and seen the anti-American bias up close and personal. Reagan is not the hallowed portent made out today – history will not remember this man fondly, nor Carter.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:01 pm)

    Starcast,

    Buddy, we’re still living through the Reagan years. He changed much of the direction of this country and its governing philosophy. For me and many others who barely hang on to a middle class existence with man and wife both working full time and the kids in day-care, the Reagan years with their continually increasing concentration of the wealth amongst a very few continue to make our lives more precarious.

    You keep interjecting in this thread your political argument and opinion that all things good happen by individuals pursuing their own interests and nothing good comes from government direction or citizens acting as a group through government and laws. That line of thinking has been a PART of the US governing philosophy for a long time, more so probably than in any of our industrialized neighbors. With that influence, not one high speed rail system has been built in the US as they are all over the place elsewhere, making us look somewhat technologically or maybe sociologically backward compared to our friends, just as one example. Yet with the countering influence that some good things can be directed by the government, the US Interstate system was constructed. For better or worse, following their own self-interest in the way that you champion, people then moved out and filled the suburbs. But note, everyone, the government mandate (to build freeways) occurred first, causing that other result.

    Another example, smog controls. It never ever happens by each following his self OR altruistic interest. It happened first of all because of California GOVERNMENT mandate. Now the LA basin is liveable and I think we can agree that we’re better all off.

    Starcast, my friend, your libertarian philosophy has been extremely destructive to this country. I believe that you and those who think as you do need to think a little harder.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:03 pm)

    Back to the real purpose of this website, the General (GM) executed this vision extraordinarily and is a great credit to the nation. Chevy Volt: American-made, American-FUELED.
    Can’t wait.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:11 pm)

    Don, you have hit the nail on the head. Finding out just how much of an impact man is having on the median temperature of the world is very difficult to ascertain. It would seem that if you have a question that is proclaimed as being so incredibly important, the players would be even more sure to adhere to scientific standards. But one of the main aspects of the scientific method is verifiability of results through peer review. But the IPCC and other AGW groups seem to think that they will get better results if they keep secret the data from which they are drawing their conclusions. How can we gauge their hypothesis if we can’t see what their data looks like? Climategate showed that they would rather destroy their own data rather than share it.
    Another aspect of the AGW groups that engenders no confidence in their findings is their willingness to obfuscate issues that weaken their position. Have you seen their new position on the Medieval Warming? It is nearly Stalinesque in its attempt to edit out aspects of history that are now inconvenient.
    That having been said, even though anthropogenic emissions of carbon are less than 4% of natural emissions, it would still be better to not unbalance things by continuing to emit all this carbon. If we could do it without adding crippling mandates to an already struggling world economy. We could probably start with something as simple as working to find a way to encourage reforestation of huge chunks of land in Brasil or Indonesia, or working to extinguish long term underground peat fires in Indonesia, though the latter might be even more difficult to achieve. $7500 to encourage you to buy a Volt may be a good idea, but imagine how many more tons of carbon you could remove from the atmosphere by planting trees in Brasil for the same amount of money.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

    DonC:
    The problem is that in science you have a mechanism and a result. Most times you see the result but can’t figure out the mechanism. AGW is unusual because you understand the mechanism but the result is difficult to measure.
    … …
    While there remains great uncertainty the scientific consensus is that the AGW effect will raise global temperatures by 2C. That’s not a huge number, but, depending on how it effects other things like rain patterns, it could prove highly disruptive.    


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:11 pm)

    America1st: Back to the real purpose of this website, the General (GM) executed this vision extraordinarily and is a great credit to the nation.Chevy Volt: American-made, American-FUELED.
    Can’t wait.    

    AMEN!

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:16 pm)

    Oil Tax credit for this car – we import $200 billion in oil every year going to nations that despise us. We could buy every American a Chevy Volt and keep the money here – the cost would be cheaper. That’s the failed philosophy of unfree markets that simply believe their’s no nominal hand on our foreign competitors trading sytles. As if every nation is living in the same unison market. These oil baron nations are capable of ilking every last dollar out of us by just setting the fuel cost just below the next alternative through monopoly power. The Sauds and American-bashers, including our own free marketeers are fantastic at keeping this great nation addicted to their heroine. May those with philosphies that get America into this wake up sooner than later. Time is running out

    Military – I served. $3 trillion in Iraq costs alone added to every american product that must compete on the world stage. We pay, our trading partners let us do the dirty work and use the price differential to kick the freedom out of us and beat us on every trading front. Time to wake up from the illusion for some.

    America First.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:24 pm)

    Merry Christmas – my fourth year here. No closer to getting a Volt though. Living in Coloroda – frozen out in more ways than one. Tried Connecticut where my folks live. Any ideas? Please post a good source. Chevy dealers all said, call me late next year, everything coming in is spoken for or uncertain.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:26 pm)

    America1st: Merry Christmas – my fourth year here.No closer to getting a Volt though.Living in Coloroda – frozen out in more ways than one.Tried Connecticut where my folks live.Any ideas?Please post a good source.Chevy dealers all said, call me late next year, everything coming in is spoken for or uncertain.    

    The last ones I heard about were in Austin Tx.
    Good luck!

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:28 pm)

    I’d try a Tesla S, but wow, nothing until 2012. Need someone other than a politician to admire? Bob Lutz of course, but Elon Musk – two entrepreneurs in their own right. Elon Musk stated we’re building this car in America, we’re going to build an all electric, America doesn’t need foreign oil, and we can fuel our vehicles more cleanly, while keeping style and power. And he actually made a car. And in many ways, he’s the first inspiration for the car we all admire.

    Hope his car company succeeds, hope all the electrics do. Oil hit yet another world record demand level, supplies of two major producing countries shrank, oil pushed to over $90 a barell, our boys and girls are still in Iraq, and Hugo Chavez still hates us. Well, at $90 a barell, that’s still cheap compared to when the recoveries of the world economies find traction. Those of you with a Volt will look like super genius investors – well timed, great product, fewer gas stops, and suddenly, a cheap way to commute all rolled into one. God Bless.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:35 pm)

    Here is my direct reply to you, Felix.

    While I am grateful for your pioneering role in what has now come to be known as “the electrification of the automobile,” I find it somewhat shocking to see how inaccessible many of your views are to the majority of Americans.

    By your admission, your interest in the technology came before much of your “education on Global Warming;” and I think this reinforces the point many have brought out in this thread: Cars like the Volt are very much worthwhile regardless of whether or not humans are influencing climate change.

    It seems to me that you are actually working against yourself in your Global Warming advocacy. As noted above, about two thirds of the US is critical, if not hostile, to the stated objectives of those who promote Anthropogenic Climate Change; which, on the surface, seem designed mainly to hobble our already-weak economy with draconian emissions regulation, while looting it to pay for dubious pre-facto “restitution” to more impoverished regimes around the world. Many of those people will oppose any such advocacy tooth and nail, the rest will merely stop reading after “Global Warming.”

    The fact is, we cannot know, at this point, whether falling in completely with the GW crowd today will lead to promoters of vehicle electrification being heroes or pariahs in the future. IMO, we are far better served to make our priorities more local and certain; for energy independence, promoting the economic future of our country, and towards the remission of “good old fashioned” pollution (those easily demonstrable environmental effects of industrial crap in the air; excusing all CO2 or climate arguments).

    If we do this, guess what? Carbon emissions will be lowered. In a curious way, if you win, you could actually lose; and if you lose, you still win in the end. :-)

    .


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:37 pm)

    America1st: I’d try a Tesla S, but wow, nothing until 2012.Need someone other than a politician to admire?Bob Lutz of course, but Elon Musk – two entrepreneurs in their own right.Elon Musk stated we’re building this car in America, we’re going to build an all electric, America doesn’t need foreign oil, and we can fuel our vehicles more cleanly, while keeping style and power.And he actually made a car.And in many ways, he’s the first inspiration for the car we all admire.
    Hope his car company succeeds, hope all the electrics do. Oil hit yet another world record demand level, supplies of two major producing countries shrank, oil pushed to over $90 a barell, our boys and girls are still in Iraq, and Hugo Chavez still hates us.Well, at $90 a barell, that’s still cheap compared to when the recoveries of the world economies find traction.Those of you with a Volt will look like super genius investors – well timed, great product, fewer gas stops, and suddenly, a cheap way to commute all rolled into one.God Bless.    

    All true, I think. Although instead of a “cheap way to commute”, it might be the only way to commute! I still remember gas lines, fist-fights at closed pumps, Odd-Even license plate days, and 10 gallon limits.
    Buckle up!

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:38 pm)

    Bob Lutz, and John Lauckner too, are something that the Felix Kramers of the world are not. Lutz is a hard headed business man and an engineer, as well. And not quite as subject to believing fairy tales, like CAGW, or imminent Peak Oil.

    We need our visionaries. But we need practical visionaries that can accomplish things, even more. Developing a product and producing it, is not necessarily an avenue to making a Profit.

    Without a Profit, you won’t be doing it very long, regardless of governmental subsidies, or innumerable politico-religious exhortations.

    Lutz tries to suggest that a rise in Oil prices to $5-$6 dollars a gallon will ignite a desire for un-sound cars. He knows that is blarney to allow him to buy some more time. Prices are higher than that in Europe, today, and there is no great surge in buying a Lemon in waiting, like a Leaf. Or even a too expensive, and untried, but true gasoline substitute like the Ampera or Volt.

    Fortunately Mr. Lutz correctly envisioned that the EREV was a true technical solution, when John Lauckner proposed it to him, but would not be an economic success until its prices essentially matched more conventional conveyances. He therefore, planned for three generations of such vehicles, and aimed for economic success, and true mass market production and acceptance, only with the third generation.

    That is true foresight, and business acumen, too.
    I commend the true doers.
    I commend Dr. Andy Frank for his engineering vision.
    I commend John Lauckner for his engineering recognition and perspicacity.
    I commend Bob Lutz for his engineering and hard-headed business acumen.
    Finally, I commend Rick Waggoner for committing the business resources, when it offered no hope of solving his immediate problems at the failing enterprise called GM.

    Once again, America has led the World in a Moon-landing type advance. Just as it is nearing the final cleanup of its Air and Water, proving to the rest of the World it is possible. It has now led the World in finding a practical, and truly acceptable substitute for fossil fueled powered vehicles.

    There were Greek philosopher-visionaries who proposed the Earth to be a Sphere and even measured its size. But it took hard headed practical men like Christopher Columbus, looking for trade routes to make a profit, to make something out of the proposition.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:44 pm)

    Stas, just to mention, the government saved GM. And Ford (1980s), and Chrysler (twice). And a host of other companies which all went on to making profits and generating revenues for stockholders and make American contributions to revenues and society. Also, the government was behind the internet startup funding, most communications, most laser developments, TV, microwaves, transistors, the list is unbelievably long and robust on what followed. What the US stopped doing was keeping a stake in the proprietary rights as a country to these breakthrough developments. Now, businesses are allowed to take those immediately overseas and compet against America. That’s costing us a nation dearly.

    America First


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:47 pm)

    Our competitors know how to kick start an industry. Singapore’s government model is to select an industry, seed it through the government, grow it privately with government direction, dominate the competition even with subsidies until their competitors collapse and the Singapore industry can then command a premium and preven startups outside Singapore, and expand the lines – their per capita growth compared to ours is a great success. Government is not an evil enterprise elsewhere.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:49 pm)

    nasaman: The Michelin Active Wheel contains virtually all of the components necessary for a vehicle to propel or stop: an electric motor, suspension coils and springs, and braking components. The only thing missing is the source of energy. Fed by lithium ion batteries, the Active Wheel’s electric motor will output 30 kilowatts of power—per wheel that is. That’s 30KW x 2 = 60KW, which is 81HP and max torque at 0 RPM. A car using only 81HP/full torque at the wheels won’t win many races, but it should certainly be able to keep up easily

    The Volt is around 150hp at 0 rpm, and the majority of that makes its way to the wheels.

    The amount of weight in the wheel also comes into play.

    A better solution might be smaller electric motors in all 4 wheels, which is exactly what these guys are doing:
    http://www.proteanelectric.com/
    14042010155035_1.jpg
    14042010154202_1.jpg


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:50 pm)

    China has most favored nation status. Read their definition of free trade. American companies are required to export a minimum 50% of everything made, and tires as an example is 100% export required. Imagine if we tried that here.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:56 pm)

    Jackson: …we are far better served to make our priorities more local and certain; for energy independence, promoting the economic future of our country, and towards the remission of “good old fashioned” pollution (those easily demonstrable environmental effects of industrial crap in the air…

    and water! Here in central PA I’ve watched the Susquehanna River come back from having an orange bottom – free of ALL life, to an emerging (recreational) fishery. Our river drains into the Chesapeake Bay, so the local benefits all run downstream. Acid runoff from abandoned mines have been remedied – largely with funds from the mining companies just in the time I’ve watched the river (1975-present). It’s seriously heartening.
    Oops, off topic yet again. (SIGH).

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (2:58 pm)

    Rashiid Amul: but what about the people that work inside the mines? How do we get them new jobs?

    Install geothermal next door, give the miners a few hours to evacuate the mine, then the small earthquakes will seal it up. 2 for 1.

    Sorry–a little black humor.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (3:17 pm)

    Tagamet,

    I remember gas lines, odd-even plates, a crazy stratospheric price spike, and as a country, wish we a greater lesson was learned from that time. Carter tried, in his unimaginably uncharismatic way – he lost. My opportunity to do my part for country isn’t going to get missed – one of these cars will find a home here in CO. When the GM testers came through for the Pikes Peak test in Colorado, I saw the Robin’s Egg color cars up close – very nice, stylish in a Chevrolet conservative way.

    CHEVY VOLT: American-made, American-Fueled. A great day for the country.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (3:20 pm)

    Tagamet,

    Government mandates I can safely assume. Chesepeake Bay is one of the great treasures of the country. Hope the waters do return. The bustle of the bay is a source of pride and industry both.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (3:31 pm)

    A great documentary for two reasons, to realize how incredibly special a time we live in, both prosperous, chivalrous, inventive, while providing a consideration on how best to keep America’s own hands on the wheels of it’s own destiny. As someone who served overseas, my wife included in Kuwait, and saw the Pentagon burning after 9/11, there’s a reason I’m here – it isn’t Environmentalism as noble as that may be for other reasons.

    http://movies.netflix.com/Movie/A-Crude-Awakening-The-Oil-Crash/70061528?strackid=5716c87fa7e3fd8c_0_srl&strkid=1135428525_0_0&trkid=222336


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (3:48 pm)

    America1st,

    If your TV supports Netflix instant play, this is available.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (4:05 pm)

    Mark Z: For example, I dreaded the upcoming incandescent lamp phase out because CFL’s start up slowly. But after trying LED “40 watt” lamps, I am thrilled with its superior instant-on technology.

    What?.. you live in Antarctica? :)

    GE just came out with a hybrid Halogen-CFL bulb that starts up quickly

    http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35677


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (4:27 pm)

    Now hook up with natural gas, both at source and as companion fuel. When the expensive batteries go kaput, you’ll still have clean, abundant energy from American sources. See Pickens Plan.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (5:28 pm)

    Herm: GE just came out with a hybrid Halogen-CFL bulb that starts up quickly   (Quote)  (Reply)

    Cool news. Now this is why I come to this site (skim right over the whole Reagan, Carter discussion). I have mostly converted to LED and won’t need this hybrid bulb. While I have installed outdoor flood LEDs, I see this hybrid bulb as a real success outdoors. CFLs are a NO GO in that realm. The dog has already done his business and come back inside while CFL is still deciding it wants to come on.

    A bit disappointed that no one plussed my earlier comment on poo power. Maybe people like links, so here is one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW6-1SlvtN4

    POO POWER! WIN-WIN-WIN! (and great rid of our excreted pharmaceuticals at the same time!)


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (6:30 pm)

    Starcast:
    ..
    Clearly you did not live through the Carter years.    

    What can you say about someone who lived during the Truman years??? Me! (although I wasn’t old enough to vote…).

    Raymond


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (6:31 pm)

    A then in-law some decades ago being pres of the Prof Eng (Cal.) home-converted to full EV two maybe three Saab’s – in the 60′s. He also was on Gov. Reagan’s Clean Air Commission. We well knew then we were gassing ourselves. We’d talk for hours about ideas for alternative energy and for cleaning up smog. Here we are some 40 years later just getting off the ground. Its a most difficult challenge. We salute your team’s efforts Felix Kramer! And of course support any effort to advance the cause of clean air and stop foreign oil dependence.

    In thinking about times back when I’m reminded of my then boss who took flying lessons to use his GI Bill (most engineers then were vets like us) and would fly over the South Bay – Sunnyvale areas. He’d tell us how a cloud of really thick yellow smog just enveloped the whole East Bay blowing right over Sunnyvale and my place. We moved.

    Una mas: In your article Felix you note that each oil price increase triggers recession. That’s been one of my hot button issues – that this last collapse was a direct result of $5/gal gas.
    Not that GM did anything wrong. Surely GM could, like any company, have done maybe better in certain areas but when the entire auto industry went screaming down the tube – you cannot single out any one company. Now GM’s proven its still far and away the best in its industry. Case in point… VOLT


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (6:32 pm)

    flmark: The summer was notably hotter while the winter was notably cooler. The numbers don’t lie. Global warming is NOT about the temperature ALWAYS being higher.

    Global Warming, or more specifically, Climate Change is not about local temperature differentials or anomalies either.

    Measuring the temperature difference from one year to another in a single location has nothing to do with climate change on a global basis.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (7:01 pm)

    Loboc: Global Warming, or more specifically, Climate Change is not about local temperature differentials or anomalies either.
    Measuring the temperature difference from one year to another in a single location has nothing to do with climate change on a global basis.

    This is a good point. Scientists predict global warming will be most dramatic at higher elevations and at the poles. Since most of us don’t live in these locations, the temperature won’t be that different, so weather variations will matter a lot more. In other words, don’t expect noticeably hotter temperatures for the vast majority of the population.

    Here’s the rub: The ice melt from higher elevations provides a relatively constant source of water for aquifers. This is the source for most of our underground water. As glaciers fade away at higher elevations, wells will run dry, and rivers will lose flow. Since many farmers rely on these sources of water, food shortages will follow.

    But we have a while before that happens. Peak oil is already happening. As soon as the economy picks up, world demand for oil will rise again, and gas will be over $4/gal or more. So the first order of business is energy independence.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (7:16 pm)

    Loboc: Global Warming, or more specifically, Climate Change is not about local temperature differentials or anomalies either. Measuring the temperature difference from one year to another in a single location has nothing to do with climate change on a global basis.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    What was the point of my discussion? Was it what you jumped on? Nope!

    I am done with discussing global warming with people who bury their heads in the sand.

    However, when you keep reading stuff like this, year after year http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/nyregion/01summer.html
    You don’t have to be Einstein to see the trend. ALMOST ALL of the hottest years on record are RECENT.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:06 pm)

    nasaman: “Now we’re starting all over on a new goal: retrofitting tens of millions of vehicles already on the road. We need to do this because putting a few million new plug-in cars on the road in the next few years — or 10 or 20 million in a decade — while absolutely essential, will make little more than a ripple within the 250 million vehicles in the US and 900 million in the world today.” – Felix Kramer, above This makes sense, and if it can be promoted by a “Cash for Conversions” campaign from the Federal Government (see my post #13 above) to defray a substantial part of the cost to car owners making conversions, it could be very successful. An example conversion might be to retrofit any of the millions of FWD cars now on our roads by replacing both rear wheels with self-contained wheel motors/gens/brakes and a battery pack. These “poor mans” plug-in hybrids could have the rear drive wheels manually switched on until the battery needs recharging. Of course the normal gas engine & FWD would be available if/when needed, or the system even used for 4WD in deep mud/sand/snow. Depending on battery size, I could imagine as much as 20 miles range as an EV. For many drivers, including myself, a 20mi AER would dramatically reduce my gas consumption.GM, Volvo and others have worked on self-contained drive/braking systems inside wheels. One example called the “Active Wheel” from Michelin is pictured here…The Michelin Active Wheel contains virtually all of the components necessary for a vehicle to propel or stop: an electric motor, suspension coils and springs, and braking components. The only thing missing is the source of energy. Fed by lithium ion batteries, the Active Wheel’s electric motor will output 30 kilowatts of power—per wheel that is. That’s 30KW x 2 = 60KW, which is 81HP and max torque at 0 RPM. A car using only 81HP/full torque at the wheels won’t win many races, but it should certainly be able to keep up easily (even at freeway On ramps).  (Quote)  (Reply)

    all this mechanism in the wheel around where I live would really get beat up… potholes and bad roads are the norm… it seems you are only asking for trouble putting all that in a part of the car that gets so much abuse.. water …salt … certainly many gs of force hitting potholes routinely.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:22 pm)

    flmark: You don’t have to be Einstein to see the trend. ALMOST ALL of the hottest years on record are RECENT.

    Which has absolutely nothing to do with climate change. Local weather and global climate change are two different things.

    We only have like 30 or so years of GLOBAL data to trend. The last decade of that data, the GLOBAL temperature has GONE DOWN.

    I’m not buried in the sand, I’m buried in environmental alarmists.

    The earth’s ecosystems are very complex and not fully understood by specialists in the field much less bloggers on an automobile fan site.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (8:28 pm)

    Tagamet: Although it’s a minority opinion here, I look forward to the day when alternatives to oil are able to stand on their own without government incentives.

    I know this was said half tongue in cheek, but I am willing to bet a buttload that nobody disagrees with this. The ends are pretty well agreed upon, it’s the best means to get there where things get messy.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:14 pm)

    Tagamet: and water! Here in central PA I’ve watched the Susquehanna River come back from having an orange bottom – free of ALL life, to an emerging (recreational) fishery. Our river drains into the Chesapeake Bay, so the local benefits all run downstream. Acid runoff from abandoned mines have been remedied – largely with funds from the mining companies just in the time I’ve watched the river (1975-present). It’s seriously heartening.
    Oops, off topic yet again. (SIGH).

    I can verify everything you said about the Susquehanna. Us folks down stream are much happier for the clean-up that took place over the last few decades. A very positive developement to say the least.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:17 pm)

    Dave G: cap & trade legislation will fail. Until more people believe climate change will affect them personally, nothing will happen.

    The reason it will fail is that it is not enforced over the planet. When you have some countries using Cap and Trade but not others, it is doomed to failure. What is needed are tariffs on imports from countries that do not abide by Cap n Trade. China is a prime example: they are building new coal burning plants at a rapid pace. The ideas I’m stating here are not mine by those of an author a previous blogger mentioned. If a country does not abide by Cap n Trade, we should base higher tariffs on their exports to the United States based on how much they pollute.

    The raising cost of petroleum will eventually make shipping goods across the ocean by freighters prohibitive. In the near future, we will find it cheaper to manufacture locally produce rather than paying for the imported goods. Right now, Chinese goods cost less than we can make them here in the States. But when petroleum costs spike again, all that will change. We will have to pay more than in the past but the upside will be jobs for anyone who wants to work for a descent wage.

    As far as good people doing what is right as others have mentioned here today, and the government staying out of it, that is just a pipe dream. There are too many people out there that are not good as we all can attest too with Wall Street and the Real Estate market. The corporate mentality will assure that the right thing won’t be done when it is counter to profit maximization. When the greedy begin to realize the downsize of their actions, e.i. a deep deep depression, they might just wake up and realize how many people committed suicide during the Great Depression. No, the Government is necessary to insure that everything stays balanced and fair.

    Another good reason for government intervention and involvement can be seen by analyzing how this country became so great through innovation. Nearly every major technology development came into existence because of government subsidy of research at our Universities and laboratories. Without that stimulus, we would not have reached the advance style of life we enjoy today. So to anyone who states that we do not need the government involvement, I say, You do not know our history and why this country has become the power it is today. To go from the nation surplus to a huge deficit in nearly a decade shows the fiscal irresponsibility of not the government but a specific administration. Each new administration faces old and new problems. The next Congress will be faced with a very important item on the agenda, Energy Policy. There is a synergy among the problems our nation faces; getting this countries economy going again, solving the energy problems we must address in this century, and all of the other myriad problems are intertwined; they effect each other. Therefore, we must work hard to solve each one and not ignore any of them. Technology will offer the solutions we need to change the course of history but it will require coalitions between politicians, scientists, corporations, univeristies, unions, and the countries of the world.

    What disturbs me the most is the divisions between differing groups of people. It kills the Human Spirit. We are ending up a people who argue over philosophical differences that do not address the solutions to problems we all face but only drive us apart making us unable to accomplish anything.

    Calcars realizes that there are many vehicles, gas guzzlers on the road that need to be replace or rebuilt with EV technology which will reduce oil consumption. The cost of such a program is dwarfed by the cost of petroleum spent in one day to fuel our vehicles. Where will the money come to finance such a program? It will come from the money saved by not spending it on petroleum but spending it on domestic fuels.

    Hope for the Future.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (9:43 pm)

    Thanks Raymondjram.

    Civic will be the first one I replace (198k). Mariner only has 107k or so. If (when) the dealership has a Volt allocation available then it will be decision time (#2 on their list, only 1 Volt allocated so far). Till then will try to keep the Civic running (catalytic converter, possible trunk lid sandblast/paint, etc.).

    Mariner Hybrid runs good, but not peppy enough for the wife. Like to get her behind the wheel of the Volt. Hard to sway her desire for all-wheel-drive, but worth a shot.

    Global warming is something to think about (fact or fiction). Keeping as much green in my wallet while driving 35,000 miles a year is my main goal. Technology is the best I can do (wife drives south to work and I drive north).

    Raymondjram: gmtx2652, I recommend that you keep the Escape Hybrid longer, and don’t buy the GM Terrain or the Chevy Traverse yet, until GM announces their Voltec-powered SUvs. Ask Felix Kramer about a conversion first for the Escape. Maybe it is available.I intended to buy the Escape Hybrid in 2009 because I wanted to convert it to a PHEV (I am an EE and I can do it myself). But all the local Ford dealers didn’t have the Escape Hybrid for sale, and were trying to swap the sell for an Explorer (too big for me), so I ended buying a 2009 Chevy Equinox, which I also want to convert in the future.Raymond  (Quote)  (Reply)


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:09 pm)

    “OT but OK”: I want to wish a Very Merry Christmas to all my friends here at gm-volt.com!

    This is about the most inspiring 95-second video I’ve seen of this kind. Hope you like it….

    http://player.vimeo.com/video/440842

    All God’s Blessings as we celebrate His Son’s Birthday,

    Granddaddy, Dad, Phil, Uncle Phil (nasaman)


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:25 pm)

    Raymondjram: What can you say about someone who lived during the Truman years???

    I think that it’s safe to say that they are really, really OLD! (lol). Wasn’t Truman like right after Washington and Adams? God love you, who does your typing here? (g)

    Be very very careful and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:33 pm)

    koz:
    I know this was said half tongue in cheek, but I am willing to bet a buttload that nobody disagrees with this. The ends are pretty well agreed upon, it’s the best means to get there where things get messy.    

    UNCONTESTED! I guess the shiny side of the coin is that the “means” discussions are interesting (and frustrating, maddening, nauseating, humorous, etc). Definitely a necessary part of the discussion here. As long as we can keep it Volt related and as far from politics as we can, I think that we are an incredibly civil group! I know *I’m* proud to be a member.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:38 pm)

    Schmeltz:
    I can verify everything you said about the Susquehanna.Us folks down stream are much happier for the clean-up that took place over the last few decades.A very positive developement to say the least.    

    Right now our town has the northernmost dam on the West Branch. It will cost a million dollars to get a fish ladder built to allow the high density fish population below it, to get above it. A lot of us radical hippy types, fish below the dam and take our catch to release above the dam (which is technically illegal I’m told).
    How far downstream are you?

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:40 pm)

    The most effective way to accelerate the mass market adoption of plug in vehicles is to lessen some of the subsidies on oil (such as paying for wars to secure our oil supply with tax money or not addressing environmental or health impacts or trade deficit and diplomatic impacts from foreign oil dependency).

    The problem has never been lack of technology, it has been lack of financial incentive — and that is because we subsidize our oil habit.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:44 pm)

    nasaman: “OT but OK”: I want to wish a Very Merry Christmas to all my friends here at gm-volt.com!
    This is about the most inspiring 95-second video I’ve seen of this kind. Hope you like it….http://player.vimeo.com/video/440842
    All God’s Blessings as we celebrate His Son’s Birthday,Granddaddy, Dad, Phil, Uncle Phil (nasaman)    

    Thanks Phil, and the same right back at you! Just as an aside, Bill O’Reiley (yes, he’s on Fox) featured that house on his show wondering how the viewers felt about it. I think that the only negative votes came from their neighbors (lol).

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (10:54 pm)

    Loboc: The last decade of that data, the GLOBAL temperature has GONE DOWN.  (Quote)  (Reply)

    You are delirious. No expertise from a blogger required.

    NASA says you are exactly WRONG
    “2009: Second Warmest Year on Record; End of Warmest Decade”
    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/temp-analysis-2009.html

    And while 2010 isn’t finished yet, trends continue- as pointed out with the previous headline.

    Tired of arguing the point…


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:03 pm)

    LRGVProVolt: ……. the Government is necessary to insure that everything stays balanced and fair…..

    I’m really sorry, but SERIOUSLY??? If that were true (and we’ve had our govt for over 2 centuries) why aren’t things balanced and fair by now? I know that you are very passionate about this thrust, but it’s just hard for me to find a govt program that is fair, balanced, or efficient. Politicians are marred by self-interest just as much, if not more than businessmen. That doesn’t make either group “right” or “fair”, they just wield different powers.
    It doesn’t sound like it, but I remain optimistic about our country’s outcome. There are *just* enough checks and balances built into the constitution to make it work. It often takes decades for wrongs to be righted (eg slavery, civil rights, DADT,etc) (though I’m still a little miffed that we now let women vote and all)(g).
    My “bottom line” is that the USA going to be ok.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:03 pm)

    Hint for those seeking understanding of the AGW issue and not position justification: It’s about energy, not just air temperatures.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:17 pm)

    Tex-Arl: We do need to quit sending our money to the Middle East.
    We do need to create a clean envirionment.
    We need to keep the government out of those decisions.
    The Market will solve all these problems WHEN THEY ARE READY TO BE SOLVED instead of when someone wants them solved.

    Huh? How? Acid rain? LA air pollution? Any solely free market solved pollution issues that can referenced? Other than excess price brought on by supply and cost constraints how can the free market alone solve the oil issues. Dogged ideology alone is always incomplete and ultimately untennable.


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:20 pm)

    koz: …Dogged ideology alone is always incomplete and ultimately untennable (SIC).

    On everyone’s part.

    Be well and Merry Christmas!,
    Tagamet

    Let’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!


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    Dec 22nd, 2010 (11:29 pm)

    Global warming is real. Man-made global warming is a crock of (something). The earth has endured much warmer and much cooler periods in a cyclical manner for millions of years without our help. The cycles will continue without regard for how much money we waste pretending to be powerful enough to influence it.

    I don’t give a rip about greenies, tree-huggers, tinfoil hats, or government conspiracy theories. I’ve spent time putting boot tracks in a giant sandbox and I’d rather not have to do that any more. Towards that end, I’m waiting patiently for my Chevy dealer to be granted a few allocations to order my Volt! Hopefully my comrades-in-arms can come home after a few million more EREVS are produced!


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (1:02 am)

    LRGVProVolt,

    Get ready for the Bill O-Reilly crowd to smack you around. Nothing good can come from government is the motto there. Reality is not important.


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (1:13 am)

    It is not logically possible to claim that AGW is a crisis and at the same time not support massive investments in hydro and nuclear power.

    In my book anyone who does so is a misguided religious fanatic.


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (2:13 am)

    What I find so inconceivable at this site is that the “loons” are supposed to be the ones that take science seriously. Science gave rise to the technology utilized by the Volt didn’t it? Science gave rise to the knowledge making it possible for this blog to exist didn’t it? By the same token science is informing us of what is likely to happen to our climate in the future and what is happening to it right now. How can any of you deny this? Have you done research to contradict the 1000s of published studies backing AGW? How many peer reviewed studies are there that refute AGW? Talk about living in the Dark Ages! And don’t tell me about leftist world-wide conspiracies – now that is real lunacy!


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (7:15 am)

    Tagamet: On everyone’s part.Be well and Merry Christmas!,TagametLet’s Just Get Enough VOLTEC Wheels On The Road!!  (Quote)  (Reply)

    No doubt


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (7:26 am)

    Ron: Global warming is real. Man-made global warming is a crock of (something). The earth has endured much warmer and much cooler periods in a cyclical manner for millions of years without our help. The cycles will continue without regard for how much money we waste pretending to be powerful enough to influence it.

    New post up so I’ll wade into the abyss. The greater than 100 year old theories. The basic physics. The 25+ years of exhaustive reaearch. The thousands of physicists, meteorologists, etc. All of that could be wrong and you may very well be right. But it would be blind luck. Just because the Earth has been around a long time and the climate is ever changing speaks nothing to accuracy or inaccuracy of humankind’s ability to materially affect the changes.

    No worries, we can all hold as tightly as we want to our beliefs and still support the Volt as you’ve so astutely pointed out.


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (8:17 am)

    Tagamet: Right now our town has the northernmost dam on the West Branch. It will cost a million dollars to get a fish ladder built to allow the high density fish population below it, to get above it. A lot of us radical hippy types, fish below the dam and take our catch to release above the dam (which is technically illegal I’m told).
    How far downstream are you?

    Sunbury/Selinsgrove area is where the Susquehanna is closest to us, and it is in decent shape ecologically, (at least in my time).

    My wife went to Lock Haven University and often talks about how she liked the area there where you call home. Coal mining is/was a big part of the economy East of us. You are correct to say that to eliminate coal altogether would depress an already depressed portion of America. If there would be jobs immediately to displace the coal mining jobs, then that would be wonderful, but I don’t see that happening for a long time.


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (10:11 am)

    There are those who think they are right and therefore should compel others to do what is right. These are the slavers. If you think it is right to compel action to mitigate the risk of others, you are a slaver. Fouling up the environment is a risk, so those who seek to preclude fouling up the environment by compulsion rather than persuasion are slavers. Government’s role is not to create economic growth, the role is to get out of the way so as to provide economic opportunity. Those that vote for larger government are slavers because governments operate on the basis of compulsion, pay taxes or go to jail, wear your seat belt or pay tickets, etc, etc.

    The slavers use the desire to protect our home (planet earth) to gain the power to regulate what others can do. They cook scientific books to produce “hockey stick” graphs seeking to “create” a crisis which justifies “drastic” action, always in the name of protecting children and the future. In other words, slavers are scam artists, and we in California continue to buy into the scams.

    One concrete example, is there an energy source cheaper than coal that does not produce air pollution like acid rain? Yes. nuclear power. But government regulation has shutoff the economic opportunity to diversify our energy sources. Plug-in vehicles are the future, but we need a more powerful and with a higher energy density (i.e. 240 wh/Kg) battery. All this fiction about creating a better future through government compulsion ignores the lesson of the Soviet Union economic model.


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (10:53 am)

    The Volt is the popular sports kid that signs up for military school, born from hippy parents.


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (12:15 pm)

    Thanks for all the great comments. I neglected to say in the post (duh!) that yesterday Ron Gremban and I from CalCars and Andy Frank (the “father of plug-in hybrids”) celebrate dthe delivery of our Volts at Novato Chevrolet. See a short article at http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_16923309 and a few photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/56727147@N00/sets/72157625656383506

    This post has been picked up at one of the great blogs about Climate Change http://climateprogress.org/2010/12/22/calcars-plug-in-hybrid-electric-car-phev/ and will soon also be at http://www.350.org. (Not because I mentioned both in the posting, but because they get the connection!) Rashiid: In our 140-character era, I’m glad to break the tradition and write long. Here’s a long response to posts.

    6 Herm: we can find ways to mitigate the impact of higher coal prices in states where the fuel mix is mostly coal; a smart taxation policy can provide revenue-neutral “feebates” for gas-guzzlers.

    15 Rashiid and 28 Tagamet: It’s a myth that the coal industry is a huge jobs industry. Since companies began chopping the tops of mountaintops with vehicles whose tires are 16 feet high, “Coal employment has declined from approximately 475,000 jobs at the end of World War II to only around 38,000 today. From 1973 to 2003, the region lost 62 percent of its coal jobs. Even in a significant coal producer like Harlan County, Kentucky, coal now makes up only 1,200 jobs in a county of 30,000 people. For Central Appalachia as a whole, coal mining is only 2 percent of direct employment.” http://appalachiantransition.net/why4.htm

    11 Rashiid proposing “Cash for plug-ins.” Paying people to crush vehicles doesn’t increase the industry’s capacity to sell new plug-in vehicles. Converting vehicles preserves the energy “embedded” in their production (can be 15% of the total energy used by the vehicle in its lifetime).

    21 nasaman: when we get wheel motors that are affordable and light enough so you don’t encounter the problem of what engineers describe as “unsprung mass,” many more cars will be convertible.

    26 Starcast and 40. Tom W, 101 Jackson, 139 Ron — I think it’s encouraging that people who are skeptics on climate change still supports plug-in cars. If people take positive steps because they’re focusing on energy security or economics that’s fine too.

    30 Jackson: A program to rapidly scale up the supply chain of components for conversions is such a smaller challenge than others we face. We can build more batteries, motors, and electronics. (We can also scale up wind and solar generation and transmission lines far more quickly than other energy sources.). And if you could buy a F-150 pickup for $5,000, spend $15,000 to retrofit it, and get a $7,500 tax credit for a vehicle that will run for at least 10 more years, wouldn’t it be great to have a 30-mile EV-range truck with onboard power for hunting, fishing, construction?

    55 Don C Good point on subsidies. The fact is that if we replaced most of the giveaways with a price on carbon (via a tax that could REPLACE the income tax!) or other means, we might have a chance at a free market.

    77 Randy and others Thanks for comments on conversions: see our page on news/policy/analysis/companies at http://www.calcars.org/ice-convrersions.html


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (12:35 pm)

    Schmeltz:
    Sunbury/Selinsgrove area is where the Susquehanna is closest to us, and it is in decent shape ecologically, (at least in my time).My wife went to Lock Haven University and often talks about how she liked the area there where you call home.Coal mining is/was a big part of the economy East of us.You are correct to say that to eliminate coal altogether would depress an already depressed portion of America.If there would be jobs immediately to displace the coal mining jobs, then that would be wonderful, but I don’t see that happening for a long time.    

    You may be surprised to learn how many private homes are heated with coal all over the east coast including large homes in new england. ALl that coal comes from central and eastern PA.
    WE displace a lot of oil wit our home grown fuel.


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    Dec 23rd, 2010 (11:32 pm)

    Never have I heard such unscientific nonsense about climate conditions that aren’t even precisely documented, much less predictable using a “science” as squishy as climatology. One of the great cons on this century will turnout to be global warming, unless more evidence than has currently been produced comes to light. Just 15 years ago, climatologists were predicting a coming new ice age. Now they’re pushing a catastrophy that, well, just happpens to be the opposite of what they’d earlier predicted. Now why on Earth anyone would look upon these contradictory predictions as anything other than positive proof of the inability of this “science” to make any plausible claims about the future remains a mystery. I think there are “Earth saviors” out there who are sort of modern versions of the ancient religious priests who predicted doomsday scenarios if man didn’t alter his evil ways. Nowadays, producing CO2 (as in breathing, for example), is the original sin. Now we have to listen to these irritating little people preach the new religion – renewable energy, an oxymoron if there ever was one. They mean carbon-free, but somehow got all confused. Again. I hate preachers, all varieties. Especially those who claim knowledge they simply don’t have. They are what we call frauds.