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This is a mostly chronological file of media reports on topics of interest to Felix Kramer, CalCars' founder. You'll see an evolution since 2001 from a focus on fuel cell vehicles to electric vehicles, hybrids and finally, plug-in hybrids.
The most recent items are at the end. Send comments to email@example.com
CALCARS COULD USE A VOLUNTEER TO REORGANIZE THIS FILE INTO CATEGORIES (WHILE KEEPING THEM IN ONE FILE); then we could use several volunteers to manage one or more of the topical areas and maintain a weblog on current news in that area.
BELOW ARE A PROPOSED CLASSIFICATION SCHEME (SUGGESTIONS WELCOME):
1. TECH: Advanced technologies (including hybrids, batteries, fuel cells)
2. MARKET: local, government, private fleets, consumers, environmental -- trends, actions
3. BUSINESS: Auto + supplier industry developments, announcements, possible partners, investors
4. IMPACT: social, environmental reports, trends, benefits
5. KEY: most important validating models, trends, competing solutions
"Yes, my friends," [said Cyrus Smith], "I believe that one day water will be used as a fuel -- that the hydrogen and the oxygen which constitute it, separately or simultaneously, will provide an inexhaustible source of heat and light of an intensity unknown to petroleum. One day, instead of being fired with coal, steamships and locomotives will be propelled by these two compressed gases, which will burn in their engines with enormous energy. Thus there is nothing to fear. As long as the earth is inhabited it shall provide for the needs of its inhabitants, and they will never want for light or heat... Water is the coal of the future."
"That I'd like to see," said the sailor.
Jules Verne, The Mysterious Island, 1874
"I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not capable. Water will be the coal of the future."
Jules Vernes (1870) "L´île mystérieuse
California Fuel Cell Partnership The Partnership -- a path-breaking collaboration of auto companies, fuel providers, fuel cell technology companies and government agencies -- plans to demonstrate up to 60 fuel cell-powered cars and buses in California by 2003,
Jim Motovalli links to clean car and fuel cell sites
http://www.cleancarcampaign: anemic effort
http://www.ch2bc.org/ California H2BizCouncil
http://www.trimolgroup.com/index.html is a company developing aluminum fuel cells (slowly, mid-2002)
Fuel Cells 2000 is the leading nonaligned source of information about fuel cells. To encourage fuel cell collaborations and industry advancements, Fuel Cells 2000 offers many services on www.fuelcells.org - the Fuel Cell Directory, the Fuel Cell Match Maker, the monthly Fuel Cell Technology Updates, the Fuel Cell Quarterly, and the Fuel Cell Career Center.
I believe fuel cell vehicles will finally end the hundred-year reign of the internal combustion engine as the dominant source of power for personal transportation. It's going to be a winning situation all the way around - consumers will get an efficient power source, communities will get zero emissions, and automakers will get another major business opportunity - a growth opportunity." William C. Ford, Jr., Ford Chairman, International Auto Show, January 2000
"Of all the technologies, the fuel cell car seems to be the most promising, it has a good chance of becoming the next mass market car." Byron McCormick, co-director of General Motor's Global Alternative Propulsion Center
"The fuel cell is the most promising option for the future. We are determined to be the first to bring it to market." - Juergen Hubbert, DaimlerChrysler.
"Fuel cell vehicles will probably overtake gasoline-powered cars in the next 20 to 30 years." Takeo Fukui, managing director, Research and Development, Honda Motor Co., Bloomberg News, June 5, 1999.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/02/20020225-5.html Bush statement:
We happen to believe that fuel cells are the wave of the future; that fuel cells offer incredible opportunity.
January 14, 2002
Spencer Abraham's Dream Car
Coming from an administration fixated on producing more of the same old fossil fuels, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's promise on Wednesday of a major government investment in fuel-cell cars powered by pollution-free hydrogen seemed almost revolutionary. Yet environmentalists who have parsed the announcement are not turning cartwheels. And for good reason. Despite hydrogen's immense promise, the administration's plan is in fact a setback for greater near-term fuel efficiency, for reducing our reliance on Middle Eastern oil and for slowing global warming.
It is also nothing new. The Clinton administration invested in fuel cell technology, both for mobile sources of pollution like cars and stationary sources like buildings. Fuel cells use stored hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity, emitting only water vapor. Yet there is no infrastructure in place for delivering hydrogen to cars, and a commercially viable vehicle with an on-board system for converting natural gas into hydrogen is, by many estimates, decades away.
Meanwhile, the administration is getting rid of the only program that seemed to be making any headway — a joint industry-government undertaking begun by Vice President Al Gore called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. Mr. Abraham belittled the program because it had no chance of reaching Mr. Gore's lofty target of a commercially viable car that could get 80 miles a gallon by 2004. Nevertheless, the investment so far — $1.5 billion from Washington, at least that much from Detroit — has not only created useful technologies, but also contributed crucially to the development of a viable hybrid gas-and-battery-powered car capable of well over 40 miles per gallon. Detroit plans to bring hybrid models to market in the next two years; the Japanese are already there.
Any federal pressure on Detroit to proceed with this program and develop high-mileage family sedans in the near term appears now to have vanished. Yet the next 10 to 20 years are vitally important to anyone who cares about urban smog, about acid rain (vehicles contribute to that, too) and about global warming. Americans will buy 150 million vehicles during the next decade, and Mr. Abraham's program won't do a thing to reduce the amount of oil they will consume. Nor will it do anything to reduce America's near-term dependence on foreign oil, which was supposed to be one of the main objectives of the Bush energy program.
One small source of hope is that the administration has yet to slam the door on a possible increase in fuel economy standards. Although the White House offered no support last summer when a group of moderate Republicans led by Sherwood Boehlert of New York tried to mandate higher mileage for gas-guzzling S.U.V.'s, Mr. Abraham may yet recommend some slight improvement in mileage standards, which have remained largely untouched for over a decade.
Tiny improvements, however, are not going to arrest global warming. Mr. Abraham calls his new vehicle the Freedom Car, presumably because it will free us from fossil fuels and the countries that produce them. We hope he is right. In the meantime, though, the only people set free are the manufacturers, now relieved of the obligation (absent strong new fuel economy standards) to produce serious breakthroughs in the next few years.
January 20, 2002
Dream Car Made Real
To the Editor:
You criticize the Energy Department's move toward hydrogen fuel cells for future cars, and you say I "belittled" the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, the current fuel-efficiency program ("Spencer Abraham's Dream Car," editorial, Jan. 14).
The Transportation Department is charged with considering changes in corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards. That review is taking place.
What I can do as energy secretary is promote research into energy efficiency. With respect to fuel-efficient vehicles I had three choices: first, continue with P.N.G.V., a $1.5 billion program universally recognized as nowhere near producing a car that anyone would want to buy. Second, pull back all research money in this area; or third, propose a program to create a new car engine that uses no petroleum and emits no pollution.
We chose the third course: hydrogen fuel cells suitable for all vehicles that can move us beyond fossil fuels and free us from dependence on imported oil. Such a vehicle can be a reality and would indeed be my dream car.
Secretary of Energy
Washington, Jan. 15, 2002
Remarks by Spencer Abrahamon FreedomCAR Detroit, MIJanuary 9, 2002
Welcome. Thank you all for coming. And I want to say how honored I am to be joined this morning by a very distinguished group of leaders: Sharing the podium with me today are Jack Smith, Chairman of General Motors' Dieter Zetsche, President and CEO of the Chrysler Group and Will Boddie, Vice President of Global Core Engineering for Ford and Senator Carl Levin. I also want to recognize Representatives John Conyers, John Dingell, Joe Knollenberg, Sander Levin, and Lynn Rivers who are with us today. Thank you all for coming.
I also want to thank Governor John Engler for his energetic leadership and support of this important initiative for the auto industry. The Governor has a prior commitment in Lansing and is unable to attend today, but I want to acknowledge his assistance.
I am pleased to be here today to announce a new public-private partnership between my Department and the Nation's automobile manufactures to promote the development of hydrogen as a primary fuel for cars and trucks, as part of our effort to reduce American dependence on foreign oil.
Under this new program, which we call FreedomCAR, the government and the private sector will fund research into advanced, efficient fuel cell technology which uses hydrogen to power automobiles without creating any pollution.
The long-term results of this cooperative effort will be cars and trucks that are more efficient, cheaper to operate, pollution-free and competitive in the showroom.
This plan is rooted in President Bush's call, issued last May in our National Energy Plan, to reduce American reliance on foreign oil through a balance of new domestic energy production and new technology to promote greater energy efficiency.
The idea of bringing together the public and private sectors to develop more efficient and affordable automobiles is also something I worked on very hard with Sen. Levin and others when I was in the U.S. Senate. As Secretary of Energy I am excited about continuing that work and promoting the promise offered by fuel cell technology to help us achieve an entirely new generation of vehicles.
My enthusiasm was given a boost last summer when I toured the Department's Argonne National Lab near Chicago, to see its work on fuel cells. A first generation fuel cell, like the one pictured here, took up an entire wall. But now you can see we have developed fuel cells that are much smaller but just as powerful. As I often say, we are at the point where a fuel cell is no longer the size of a minivan, but more like the size of a seat in that minivan. And they're getting smaller and more economical all the time.
FreedomCAR isn't an automobile … it's a new approach to powering the cars of the future. The C-A-R in FreedomCAR stands for Cooperative Automotive Research and it will be a big win for everyone.
For consumers it means more fuel-efficient cars and trucks that are cheaper to operate. Families will no longer have to factor in the cost of gasoline in their budgets, in their vacation plans, or in what type of vehicle they buy. The gas-guzzler will be a thing of the past.
Growing up in Michigan with a father and father-in-law who both worked on the assembly line, I know first hand what the automobile business means for families and our nation's economy.
For the auto industry and its workers FreedomCAR means a bright future.
For the environment it means less pollution from cars and trucks and it means cleaner air. Automobiles powered by pure hydrogen fuel cells emit no pollution and no carbon dioxide. The only exhaust is water. That's a monumental change.
For energy security it means we will no longer have to depend so heavily on imported oil from unstable regions of the world. Transportation consumes 67 percent of all the petroleum we use, forcing us to import some 10 million barrels of oil each day. But even though we are a buyer on the world market, we are a buyer with choices. And one of those choices is to use the technological genius found in private industry and at our national laboratories to invent our way to energy independence.
The FreedomCAR is a long-term research program aimed at developing a fuel-cell operating system for tomorrow's cars and trucks. It looks to fundamental research and development.
This program has a long, but realistic time horizon. Our vision spans several decades as together the Department of Energy and the automobile industry look to develop cost effective hydrogen fuel cells.
And although FreedomCAR is a long-term effort, we will not allow the program to drift. We will have strict and enforceable measures of success and near-term goals that will guide us and keep the program on track.
FreedomCAR replaces and greatly improves upon the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicle program.
Like the old PNGV program, FreedomCAR will be a public-private partnership, combining the talents of the DOE's National Labs with the impressive scientific know-how of industry and the technological innovations being pioneered at the nation's top research universities.
But that's about it as far as similarities go. The PNGV wasn't cost effective and it wasn't moving a competitive automobile to the showroom. It certainly had a desirable goal - an 80 mile per gallon vehicle - but it wasn't at all clear this vehicle would appeal to consumer tastes.
What's more, the PNGV program was still wedded to gasoline as an essential source of power. We can do better than that. We can look beyond current technology and current fuels to a truly new generation of vehicles.
That is the direction we are headed. My friends here today share my great enthusiasm for this project. And they share my great enthusiasm for what we can accomplish.
A vision like this can transform everything - the way industry and government work together, the kinds of fuels we use, and the kinds of cars we buy. And a vision like FreedomCAR will bring consumers more choice, more efficient vehicles, and huge savings. That's why we have such a strong partnership represented here today, and why I am certain that partnership will succeed.
Thank you everyone for coming. My Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, David Garman, and I will remain here to answer your questions.
The current partnership with the auto industry was initiated in September 1993 as the "Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV)." The program emphasized research and development (R&D) programs designed to triple automobile fuel efficiency. The PNGV program was to culminate in the production of prototype family autos in the year 2004, with the expectation that the technologies would be incorporated into even more efficient production vehicles about four years later.
The situation has changed. The National Research Council Peer Review recommended restructuring the PNGV program because of developments and advancements in related fields:
Automobile fuel economy is declining as SUV market share increases
Significant R&D progress has been achieved
Industry partners have announced they will introduce hybrid technology in production vehicles within the next few years
Other PNGV technologies (e.g., light-weight materials) are being introduced in conventional vehicles
Substantial programs similar to PNGV are underway around the world
Full fuel efficiencies associated with PNGV technologies will not be realized in large numbers until breakthroughs render them more cost-competitive
Reevaluation is appropriate as PNGV approaches the end of a ten-year project
In evaluating the former PNGV program, DOE and auto industry partners agree that:
Public/private partnerships are the preferred approach to R&D, as highlighted in the President's National Energy Plan, but the cooperative effort must be refocused in order to:
Aim at longer range goals with greater emphasis highway vehicle contributions to energy and environmental concerns
Move to more fundamental R&D at the component and subsystem level
Assure coverage of all light vehicle platforms
Maintain some effort on nearer term technologies that offer early opportunities to save petroleum
Strengthen efforts on technologies applicable to both fuel cell and hybrid approaches; e.g., batteries, electronics, and motors
For more information on the FreedomCAR, See Secretary Abraham's Remarks to the Detroit Auto Show