Thursday, August 21

Convert 80 Million Gasguzzlers To EVs

So says Andrew Grove, who oversaw growth at Intel. After seeing Who Killed the Electric Car? Grove had a conversion experience, as many of us did. Unlike us, he managed to test-drive the EV1. As part of his teaching at Stanford University he researched electric vehicles, and, shocked at the slow pace of auto manufacturers, is prodding venture capitalists to fund electric vehicle technologies with a lecture he's delivered to Khosla Ventures titled "There Could Be Blood."

His bold vision calls for converting 80 million trucks and SUVs on the road today into plug-in hybrids within the next 4 years.

Grove's plan calls for experts to draw up blueprints for putting 10 million plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles on the road by 2012, more than current work on the part of automakers will produce by this time. GM's Volt is likely to start in the low millions in 2010, Mitsubishi's iMiEV will be beginning here in 2009, but starting in the thousands.

Grove has reached out to electric vehicle conversion experts such as Prof. Andrew Frank, of CalDavis to learn about their research and what they need to grow. $10 million, apparently. Frank is trying to fund a company to convert pickups to run on electricity for the first 40 miles before switching to gasoline. His start-up, Efficient Drivetrains Inc., would train mechanics to perform conversions costing customers about $10,000. Professor Frank compares the process to an earlier do-it-yourself era, saying: "I grew up in the days of hot-rodding, and fundamentally what we did was take conventional cars and added widgets to it to improve its performance."

EV conversions are already taught in summer classes offered by Mike Parker and at select institutions of higher learning such as MIT, and people already buy and sell conversions on eBay and drive converted vehicles. Grove believes that EV Conversion would be the fastest option to speedily reduce carbon emissions and of course, eliminate gas payments. Since the shell has already been crashtested, there is none of the time and expense of developing a new vehicle. Like "hot-rodding" in the past, converted vehicles are legal and can be registered and insured, ready to drive as soon as they are complete, in a similarly murky legal area.

Grove is also working with CalCars, which promotes converting hybrids to plug-in hybrids. Installing a second pack of batteries, reprogramming the software and installing a recharging plug more than doubles the cars' fuel economy to +100 miles per gallon.

Two studies at the DOE's Argonne National Lab have found plug-in hybrids would result in large carbon reductions, not just in California, but even on the national 50% coal-powered grid. They estimate hybrids reduce carbon emissions by 22%, and plug-in hybrids by 36%, and if recharged at night would reduce carbon emissions up to 61 percent (PDF)

Unlike vehicles powered by gasoline, plug-in hybrids and electric cars get cleaner as they get older because the electric grid powering them is getting cleaner every decade.

From Bloomberg News
For MatterNetwork