The Problem and the Solution

 

 Plug-ins and Hybrids and Diesels, Oh My!

By John Voelcker

First Published May 2008

 

 

 

 http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/may08/6317

 

“Oh My!” What?  Oh my Economy, Oh my, National Security, Oh my, Environment.  The public deserves better than this.  We are in a serious crisis.

 

This article is gobbdegook.  It oversimplifies and trivializes limited aspects of a complex problem.  We should all understand that plug in vehicles are not simply  a solution to global arming or inner city traffic congestion.  The gizmo that makes a diesel or gasoline car more efficient or that city legislation that taxes this or that only pick at a single facet of a many faceted problem, or perhaps network of problems.

 

The plug-In vehicle combined with electricity from a modernized grid delivering power from renewable sources and locally produced renewable electricity are the only comprehensive solution to every facet of this complex set of problems.  The problems are:

 

1. Economy

        Rising fuel and food prices.  These are the essentials of life in our Oil based economy.  The price of all products are rising under the pressure of rising fuel prices.  But, if you can't afford to drive to work or eat you have a fundamental problem.

 

    We have a balance of payments problem due to our reliance on foreign oil.  The value of the dollar diminishes with the purchase of each barrel of foreign oil.

 

    We are fighting a war to insure stability in a part of the world the produces the oil we rely on.  Whether or not we are achieving stability, that was the objective.  The cost of the war is an economic drain on our economy.  We are financing this effort with long term debt to China.

 

    We subsidize the oil industry at a trillion dollars a year.  Yet we say we can't afford the cost of solving our reliance of oil.  The fact is we can't afford our reliance on oil.  The fact is, that if we applied a tiny fraction of the money squandered on oil and / or the war we could give away Plug-In vehicles and stimulate the economy and create new industries and jobs in the process.

 

2.National Security.

    A portion of your foreign oil dollar (borrowed) goes to terrorism.  The resources spent in the Iraq war weaken our National security and leave us vulnerable to attack on other fronts.  We have people in service doing multiple successive tours of duty because of limited number of forces.  Who would imagine the success of such a small number of poorly organized enemy forces could so effectively weaken the national security of this great Nation.

 

3. Foreign Oil Reliance

    In addition to the Economic and National Security  aspects of the Foreign Oil dependency, pollution and shipping problems are related here.  The biggest fleets and ships in the world are not aircraft carriers but oil tankers.  The delivery of this fuel involves the consumption of enormous amounts of petroleum, pollution and the occasional spill.  The solution offered to this dependency is, offshore drilling bringing with it, it's own set of environmental and economic problems.

 

4. Pollution

    This a problem that is well understood and our reason for initially started down this road.  In terms of urgency it now needs to compete with the price of food on the table and transportation to work.  Plug-In vehicles in the short term, when using electricity from fossil plants and only  partially renewable sources, significantly reduce pollution and remove the point of pollution from the point of use.  Plug-In cars driven in cities leave the city air clean regardless of the origin or the energy used to charge them.

 

5. Global warming.

    Only yesterday we hear the news that the White House was forced to release the report produced as a result of a mandate from congress and completed in 2004.  This administration has dismantled incentives necessary to solve this problem and hidden the evidence of the urgency of the need to address the issue for four years. Global Warming is real, and we are already suffering from its adverse effects.

 

Plug-In technology is viable, tested and proven in the Panasonic EV-95 NiMH powered Toyota RAV4-EV.  This is a car, that on May 25, 2008 sold for $89,200, almost three times its initial cost after incentives.  Any resources spent on solving one or another aspect of this complex problem, is wasted resource and contributes to the delay in arriving at the comprehensive solution.

 

What is the solution?

 

We are about to enter a new administration, be it Democrat or Republican.  This administration needs to hit the ground running with an effective and comprehensive energy policy that gets to the heart of the matter.  There is not a lot of time left for dancing around the issues.  I am not talking about global warming, however important that is, I am talking about economic hardship that is the consequence of continued delay.  A strategically positioned Gulf shore hurricane or terrorist attack could break this economy in its current weakened state.  We need an informed Administration in the White House and an informed Congress to act decisively.  We need to shift incentives away  from oil and to Plug-In vehicles.  I offer this for your consideration:

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Petition to Congress

 

 

 

 

 

We ask you to consider with openness, the current energy crisis.  Rising fuel costs are the concern of an increasing number of Citizens.  Because 25% of the products in our supermarkets are made from corn; and because the production of corn is a fuel intensive process; and because corn is being diverted to make ethanol, food prices are rising rapidly, also.

 

 

 

We ask you to consider initiatives, taxes and incentives to move this Country in a positive direction.  Government owned Hybrid vehicles can be converted to Plug-in Hybrid vehicles at a cost of $10,000 per vehicle.  Charging stations for these vehicles can be provided at Federal buildings and facilities.  Charging stations can be powered form the grid or local solar panels.  Plug-In Hybrid vehicles can run for thirty miles on pure electric, increasing vehicle efficiency to 100 miles per gallon or more.

 

 

 

 These improvements could be paid for with an environmental impact fee on new car sales of $100 per vehicle for gas burning automobiles.  Hybrid vehicles (using an electric motor for propulsion in addition to the conventional Internal Combustion Engine) capable of conversion to plug-In would be exempt from the impact fee.  An incentive of $5,000 could be paid to any resident converting a Hybrid to a Plug-In, or purchasing a Plug-In Hybrid, or purchasing pure battery electric vehicle. 

 

 

 

As the number of conversions increases the environmental impact fee on gasoline cars could be increased to cover the cost of the conversion / purchase incentive, further incetivizing conversions.  As the number of Plug-In Hybrids further increases, the incentive can be reduced to keep pace with reduced revenue from the environmental impact fees.

 

 

 

In addition, a guaranteed minimum price of four dollars per gallon could be promised to car owners and drivers by imposing a Federal gas tax differential whenever the price of a gallon of gas drops below four dollars a gallon.  This would further incentivize replacing gasoline automobiles with Hybrids, Plug-In Hybrids or pure battery electric cars.

 

 

 

Chevron/Cobasys holds the patents for NiMH batteries.  This technology has been licensed to dozens of companies currently making NiMH batteries in formats no larger than 10ah.  Panasonic manufactured the EV-95 NiMH battery in a 95ah format used in the Toyota RAV4-EV.  Toyota manufactured 1500 of these vehicles.  Many of these vehicles have over 100,000 miles and are still running today, ten years after their introduction in 1998.  The last time a Toyota RAV4-EV was sold on E-Bay (May25,2008), it sold for 89,200.  This is almost three times its original cost after incentives. 

 

 

 

Congress must take steps in the interest of National security, to see to it that companies like Panasonic are licensed to make the larger format NiMH batteries under agreements that are fair to Chevron/Cobasys and licensees like Panasonic.  This technology is essential to the Plug-In vehicles we need in the interest of National Security and other oil related problems listed below.

 

 

 

We the signatories of this petition mandate Congress to take these steps toward solving our reliance on foreign oil, national security, rising food and fuel prices, pollution and global warming.

 

 

 

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 I started this post because of yet another frivolous item in the media.  The media is supposed to ask the hard questions and inform us.  I am disappointed.  It seems to me that the burden falls on us to ask the hard questions and inform the public.  I ask those of you who believe that the Plug-In Vehicle is the keystone in the solution to this complex array of problems to join me.  Think about how I can change my approach and how you can help so that together we can show America the way to freedom from our current crippling reliance on foreign oil.

 

 

 

Cheers,

 

Al Lococo

 

al@lococo.org

 

www.evprogress.org