January brings good news about the resolution of issues about Volt safety, announcements of many new PHEVs to come, many new sources of anti-plug-in criticism and misinformation — and finally, a response mechanism — and lots of other resources for CalCars-News readers who haven’t had a chance to keep up with the latest developments.
(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be viewable at the CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)
NHTSA CLOSES BOOKS ON VOLT FIRES: The National Highway Transportation Administration’s review of fire-related issues on the Chevy Volt has been closed. The NHTSA’s official statement:
. GM’s precautionary measures announced Jan 5 for same-day February installations, have been approved. GM’s statement welcoming the end of the investigation at:
ONCE MORE ABOUT FIRES: We’re glad to see more and more people compare the significance of a handful of fires weeks after crash tests with hundreds of thousands of conventional vehicle fires a year.
. Oh, and did you or anyone notice when Ford just recalled 286,000
SUVs over a potential fire hazard?
NEXT: CONGRESSIONAL QUIZ: Meanwhile, the head of NHTSA and GM’s CEO
Dan Akerson will testify Wednesday at a Congressional subcommittee hearing that Volt critics hope could extend their “fear, doubt and uncertainty” strategy. (On a parallel track to another House hearing Wednesday for cleantech critics reviewing the State Department’s decision on Keystone.)
ROUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR PLUG-INS? The path forward may not be smooth. By 2006 we had a broad and popular non-partisan coalition, endorsed by the Bush Administration to incentivize US production of cars and batteries, and provide credits to hundreds of thousands of early buyers. By 2011, when the cars arrived, we found EVs condemned by many as ” Obama’s pet project,” earmarked for failure as part of political campaigns. Add to that a media onslaught that promotes the idea that cars arriving in the market at a rate twice that of hybrids a decade ago are in fact failing. Taken together, plug-ins now have an uncertain position. Advocate Chelsea Sexton in Jim Motavalli’s book, High lVoltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry,” in February 2011 predicted “a couple of rough years” with “deployment missteps, changes in policy and negative media stories, whether earned or not.” She suggested we scale back our expectations — and avoid complacency.
IMPLICATIONS FOR FEDERAL $7,500 CREDIT. This current all-important program is the subject of increasing attacks. Uninformed criticisms have come after the introduction of a House bill to repeal the credits — including ones from the Washington Post. See rebuttals and links to the editorial at PIC and Climate Progress. The greatest threat may come not from a direct attack but from an attempt to end the credit as part of a larger package of fiscal changes.
Great resources are out there. Pass the word about the Department of Energy three-minute video, Electric Vehicles 101, introducing and explaining EVs and PHEVs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M69GBL0IDzI . Don’t miss a
posting by Rocky Mountain Institute/Project Get Ready’s Ben Holland and Randy Essex, countering the idea that 2010 sales were a disappointment. Still, we need something more — mechanisms equivalent to those that climate change deniers and others have perfected to jump on news stories as they appear.
FISKER SHIPS, WINS AWARDS: The Karma, which recently began shipping and had its own two episodes of precautionary modifications for a small number of cars delivered to customers, has won the Top Gear Luxury Car of the Year and Overall Car of the Year awards in addition to its previous Design of the Year award from Automobile Magazine.
A test drive report by John Voelcker:
VOLT TEAR-DOWN CalCars has been hoping someone would “open up” the Volt, as engineers did years ago with the Prius,and as the people at http://www.ifixit.com and http://www.ifixit.org do with appliances and high-tech gear. Finally one is in view. See 10 short videos
Corporate sponsors Munro & Associates and TechInsights appear to be saving their findings for a
conference in March in San Jose http://www.ubmdesign.com/ , but some of the videos (including one called “Under the Hood” show the careful redundant safety engineering features in the car.
REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR OUT ON DVID: Startng this week, you can buy the movie; this will be followed by availability at Netflix and Hulu.
A FEW ARTICLES WE LIKED:
* Factions Square Off in Battle for Electric Car Future: Brad Berman analyzes the four major contenders: Anti-EV Republicans and Media, Obama Administration, Auto Industry, and EV Drivers and Advocates:
SUPPORT CALCARS: If you intended to donate at the end of 2011 but didn’t , we have switched our 501(c)3 sponsorship to the Electric Auto Association, of which we are a chapter. Go to
http://www.calcars.org/sponsor.html for tax-deductible contributions online by credit card or by mailing a check. Thanks as always for your help in keeping CalCars and our website running!
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Felix Kramer firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder California Cars Initiative
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