Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Plug-In 2008

A convention hosted in San Jose this week, Plug-In 2008 has drawn far more attention than expected, emphasizing the promise of increased production of hybrid electric plug-in vehicles that can top 100 miles per gallon. Policy groups along with GM, Toyota, and Ford are banding together to discuss changes that will need to be made in infrastructure within the next two years. This is the first global gathering of its kind that combines the environmental community with automakers, electrical companies with government agencies. I heard about this convention on NPR this afternoon on Patt Morrison's program, on which she asked the question "will the alternative energy panacea be found in your wall socket?"

In the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, filmmaker Chris Paine told the story of the production and marketing of the 1996 EV1, the first possibility for an oil-free future in the automotive industry, which no one whole-heartedly supported, car companies claiming it was too expensive to produce and that no one would want one. As the waiting lists grew longer and longer contrary to oil producers and American car companies money-grubbing interests and predictions, the expansion of infrastructure to support these vehicles grinded to a halt, companies reduced manufacturing numbers, and vehicles were recalled. The EV1 became a momentary thing that was a commodity, not a necessity.

With today's gas prices (which top the movie poster's numbers that only two years ago were a nightmarish figure) and the new regulations put on car companies in certain states to produce a few hundred thousand hybrid, energy-efficient vehicles by the year 2015, the electric car, even if it's just a hybrid-plug in, will make a definite comeback in the next two years. At least, that's the goal of the Plug-In 2008 convention. Let's hope people are paying attention this time.

Check out more on the convention and the hot topics there by visiting their website:

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