Electric Vehicles

Friday, July 02, 2010


Life is about balance. When balance leaves, corruption fills in. Washington has totally been corrupted. As soon as a politician is elected or re-elected, they start running for the next election. They stop thinking about America and its needs from a broad sense and look for financial support (a lot from lobbyists) from people who want to influence the politicians stand, support their re-election and put their lobbying needs into everything. You talk about healthcare reform and you leave out a major, major lobbying group, the American Trail Lawyers who changed their name to American Association of Justice. Why? Most people put lawyers about as low on the respected occupations as politicians. They are spending about $34M on lobbying every year to prevent tort reform every where. They are especially concerned about health care because the ambulances they chase are very profitable for them. There has been no concern in Washington among mostly the Democrats about health care costs reductions. Why has health care costs gone up? Why are US drugs so expensive? Not all, but a lot of it has to do with money hungry trail lawyers suing companies with deep pockets, and doctors and hospitals. The costs to do "everything under the sun in diagnosing problems" have been driving costs up, not by the judgment of doctors, but the lawyers looking for reasons to sue a doctor or hospital.

Now where is the corruption? Probably 90% of Congress is lawyers by education. They are deeply tied to the legal industry in this country. Tort reform is not on their agenda. I am from the auto industry, and a major driver in what we do is to protect ourselves from ambulance chasers. The bulk of the Toyota problem is caused by the press and the trail lawyers. Have you yet heard any "facts" bought out, other than by Toyota? Obama is a lawyer and don't you think he is looking after his friends? The legal profession is needed, but you need to recognize that it adds no value to our economy, it is a re-distributor of money. The legal professional needs major reform.

Suggestions, yes limit lobbying, but more importantly is getting in new representatives in Washington who come because it is a privilege to serve and not a permanent job. Term limits are absolutely necessary. With term limits you will get a better cross section of America than a bunch of lawyers who could not make it as lawyers. It is impossible for an average business man to say, I think I can help and I want to run for that office and serve a term. He has no chance in today's system because of the corruption in our political system. We do not have a cross section of America in Washington. We have a bunch of lawyers. Lawyers because of their education and training do not understand cause and effect in a scientific way, nor do they have the vision of what to do today to fix tomorrow. Lawyers go by one case or problem at a time and the result does not even have to be correct to be considered a "win." They do not think about much beyond today which is going to be our death.

As far as Green initiatives are concerned, what we need today is a Congress in Washingtion with business people, scientists and lawyers who see what is needed, such as a direct carbon tax that will change people's wasteful habits and make alternative energy lower cost than status quo. Cap and trade is stupid (look at Al Gore and his firm that is going to play in cap and trade to make billions!). It saves the politicians, who pass it, from any responsibility. It will make consumers pay more but they will believe that it is the utilities and oil companies soaking them in name of profit and the public will not change their bad energy habits. If you pay directly with a greater tax on the gas you buy, and know that the tax will increase every year for next 10 years, you will want to buy a smaller more fuel efficient vehicle (look at Europe), might even demand better mass transit, want the cities revitalized to move closer to work, and actually conserve energy rather than waste it. And yes, I have an answer to where those tax dollars go. They are allocated to be spent on alternative energy R&D, mass transit, rebuilding our cities, revitalize our crumbling transportation infrastructures and help people in transition from oil dependent systems to others AND with public oversight.

But nothing can happen without throwing out the current Washington and State legislative systems and starting back where we were in 1776! That was how our forefathers thought it would work, not what we have evolved to.
And yes it is currently very corrupt and has no balance. Get rid of them all!!! It is about time to reinvent ourselves and the 1776 model will do it.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Obituary for GM (General Motors Corp.)

Today GM declares bankruptcy. My prediction of 25 years ago comes true. Who would have ever thought GM would go bankrupt? Only me? and I got laughed at for at least 24 years. I am not happy about this because of what it will do to the many men and women who worked so hard and were so dedicated to GM’s success. But it takes more than just hard work and dedication to compete in a very competitive world. It takes leadership to do the right things and do them not only right, but better and better the next time, and the next time. GM has been missing that leadership for 30 years, probably more.

GM has lost $88 billion since 2005. Does that sound like a company that knows what it is doing? Will the bailout or bankruptcy solve these problems? NO! The core problems still remain. The financial people in the President’s Auto Task Force, in GM, and in the investment world do not know anything about product and manufacturing and can not fix what they can not see. Money is only part of the solution. What is GM going to do differently tomorrow? For example, the last straw of stupidity was selling off GM’s European Opel operations (except for 35%) to auto parts supplier Magna and the Russians. What is GM going to do for small car platform engineering now? North American operations gave up on this in the 90’s. Ex-CEO Wagoner also sold off every other company relationship GM had, Fiat, Suzuki, Isuzu, Fugi Heavy Industries (Subaru), all for short sighted cash. The other “asset” GM has eliminated is the Balance Sheet liability of people. Again, for short term cash. But when you sell off your experience, skills, and knowledge, you have very little left. Only a financial person would do this.

What are the core problems? The main one is lack of a visionary with leadership who understand the execution of car programs. Leaders see the next program and see the need to build culture to do the next, and the next and the next better and better for lower and lower costs, faster and faster to production times and with higher and higher quality. This does not happen by accident, but by a thoroughly diligent leadership and a knowledge based organization that builds that thinking into its culture and encourages it. GM did not have this commitment for the 25 years I worked for the company (1971-1996). I saw the company try to build this in the era of Project Centers (1977-1985), but almost the opposite occurred and it got worse, until I gave up on GM’s management and left (not retired, but walked out the door.) Without this leadership to build core competencies in all areas, GM continues to struggle to do car programs. The mode of operation is to use money instead of knowledge and expertise. For example, rather than having a team that has done hundreds of hoods and can do the new one in hours or weeks, GM spends years and makes mistakes over and over because the learning is never captured because the engineers and designers just move on to something new that they have never done before either. This is very expensive and does not yield world class. GM solves its problems with money. If one person can’t do it, put 5 on it and if they make mistakes pay money to redo or retool or retest until it is right, just don’t run out of time.

What is GM going to do with $50 billion of our taxpayer money? Do they need that much? I can’t imagine how they could spend that much money. Can a smaller GM pay that back? Are they simply trading old inflated debt for new taxpayer debt? Even at 5% interest, $50B creates $2.5B in interest per year. And even if this is a shell game to get Wall Street to over value GM stock to “buy” the Government out, it will only collapse again. A successful company needs to be rock solid and stable to its core. GM has burned up $18B of our taxpayer money and what has been the result? Bankruptcy? It is paying for mostly overhead and inventory to build some small amount of product and probably lawyers and accountants. Is it an investment in the future? Financial people usually do not see the future beyond paying tomorrow’s bills. This is not the way for the future. Where is the leadership to build a new GM? No where in sight.

How much would Toyota need to do 5 new car programs, as GM may need to do? $5B maybe, but certainly not $50B. It makes no economic sense. I am sorry but I do not see a survival plan for GM. Henderson is no different than Wagoner before him and Jack Smith and Roger Smith before them. These guys probably made good CFO’s but they do not have the leadership skills to move the company in new directions. They can’t because they do not have the understanding of product development and manufacturing from a global corporate stand point. They only know how to ask, “What do you need?” and add up the numbers and grumble. Old traditional ways do not die without some one challenging the numbers and suggesting new ways and creating new organizational structure and culture. Who is going to do this? Is there anyone left?

Is GM doing anything right? As an electric vehicle enthusiast, the Volt sounds promising but GM is spending way too much money on this program. Just like the EV1 program I worked on, they spent money wildly, to the tune of $1B to do the EV1 program. The result was about a 1,000 cars built and then they killed it, crushed the vehicles and made everyone including suppliers hate them. Most of the people were retired out but a few remained. When Bob Lutz stands up and says proudly, "we are spending over a half a billion dollars a year on development," you know something is wrong. The Volt was announced in January 2007 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to be GM’s future. GM continues to promise delivery by the end of 2010. The product really can not be done that fast due to the battery testing required before putting into production. Battery pack testing will take at least 5 years of testing in its final state before production. GM keeps changing everything as they learn about the battery, and that resets the 5 year clock. I suspect, the bankruptcy will delay the program launch which is good if they keep working on the development. But then GM announced that they will ask DOE for another $2.6B for two Volt derivatives! Why do they need so much money? Did any one ask and challenge them who knows anything about this business? GM’s financial numbers may be the best they have, but they are way too high and require a new way to doing things.

Sorry GM, but the dinosaur is starting to freeze to death and die. Let him go and for certain something will be reborn. Will it be an American car company? Probably not. Ford will continue to grow because they have a technical guy leading and a good plan that has been in place for a while. They see the future and know how to address it....themselves. I do not know about the Fiat and Chrysler deal. Fiat is getting far more than it wants or needs to make a stand in the US market. Fiat probably does not understand how Chrysler is organized nor what its culture is --- neither did Daimler and we know what happened there. What Fiat needs is far less than what Chrysler will “sell” them in the “New Chrysler.” Fiat needs a couple of assembly plants to build small cars, small engineering staff to do testing, purchasing staff to source parts, manufacturing people to run the plants and some small number of dealerships with distribution to sell products.
I am sorry for GM and its people, its dealer, its suppliers, its stockholders, but when death comes, we must move on. We now have to look to the future, not the past.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Congress Must Do, Successful Auto Bailout & Insuring an Energy Future

The situation in the US auto industry is bad but the Detroit 3 need more than just money. Internally they need leadership with vision and understanding of the product and manufacturing side of their business, not just the financial side. But more importantly they need Congress to have the courage to put in place policy that fosters their talk about the energy future of the United States.

What Congress and the President must do:
1. The country needs an immediate $2 per gallon gas tax with the policy to increase the tax 50 cents each year for 6 years. This will be painful for everyone, but no more painful than it was this summer. We can’t have the automakers building small fuel efficient cars unless the public wants them. This summer when gas was $4 a gallon people wanted small cars, now gas is $1.60 and small cars are sitting on the dealer’s lots and pickups and SUV’s are selling like hot cakes. This is fact and it is suicidal for this Nation to accept this.
2. Congress needs to implement trade policy that levels the playing field with all nations we trade with. We should be able to trade as easily and freely with other nations as they are with us. If we decide that some countries are not doing enough with atmospheric emissions, child labor, product quality or safety, currency exchange, then stop trading with them until they put in place a plan to correct. Any country that can produce something at a lower cost delivered should be able to do so. We should be able to flood the Japanese rice market with lower cost American rice and be able to put the Japanese rice producers into some other kind of industry, just like Japan has done with electronics in the US. Why should the US be limited in importing vehicles into Korea? The answer is make the situation equal to all. China produces huge quantities of goods in conditions that are appalling to the environment and their workers. China must fix and until they do, we limit what they can import. Sorry Walmart shoppers, but buy American (if it is not too late.)
3. Congress needs to implement economic stimulus plans based on buying American made products. With item 2 & 3 together, we need to restart building American products again. Manufacturing is a key occupation for many average Americans. Half of the world is below average intelligence and they are not equipped to be leaders in the Information Age. They need unskilled labor jobs that pay a decent wage building products the others in America need and want. Make economic stimulus tied to buying American made goods.
4. Congress needs to carefully look at all the issues American business faces setting up manufacturing in this country and eliminate the huddles, the legal battles, product liability threats, the complicated business taxes, control the rising health care costs, the massive environmental impact hurdles required to put in a new business, and all the items that are causing American companies to build their products overseas because it is lower cost , less hassle, and simply easier.
5. Congress needs to set energy policy that directly includes the American consumer in both the environmental and energy costs. The American public is responsible for 75% of the energy consumed in this country some directly and some indirectly. The private citizen consumes energy driving vehicles, running all the appliances, furnaces and air conditioners in their homes (direct use), they demand products be created that use energy and services be provided that consume energy. They directly need to be made financially responsible for their choices.
6.) Congress needs to put in place “tough love” for alternative energy. Legislating energy businesses to use more expensive alternative energy is putting the cart in front of the horse. Use a carbon tax on oil, coal or natural gas used in electricity generation. If the consumer sees his bill is going to go down with alternative energy sources for his electricity, they will demand it and the utilities will have to provide it. When the price of alternative energy is lower than traditional energy, it will happen naturally. Congress needs to put in place these policies.
7.) Congress needs to put in policy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Making gasoline more expensive is one step. Switching the nation to E25 (gasoline that is 25% ethanol) as the standard gas available reduces our need immediately by 25%; all 250M cars and trucks will have to use this fuel (standard gas will no longer be available) The ethanol produced needs to be second generation ethanol, cellulosic ethanol. Since the oil companies will lose 25% of their revenue, they will put huge R & D dollars into perfecting 2nd generation ethanol production, they will have no alternative and this is good.

8.) Electric vehicles are going to happen and the US must not trade importing oil for importing batteries. This needs a major policy decision to manufacture batteries in this country. Congress must take the lead and make Government support, money and priority happen. The items above will help American manufacturers be more competitive but massive amounts of money and leadership are required.

Now back to the US automobile industries that lack of vision. Personally speaking I do not believe financial people should be running manufacturing companies. They typically do not run the successful companies in Asia or Europe. Only in the US do we have financial people running manufacturing companies. Ford is in the best shape today and in fact told Congress they don’t need taxpayer money unless the economy turns even worse. They have a plan and it is working. GM and Chrysler are in bad shape and both are run by financial people.
I worked at GM for 25 years and saw what happened when Roger Smith took over and when he left, the company was in terrible shape, so he got Bob Stempel put in as CEO to set him up for failure. This arrangement resulted in Stempel being pushed out and then they brought in another financial guy, Jack Smith. Smith had “earned his stripes” by cutting GM’s German Opel engineering from outstanding to barely functional, but saved GM lots of cash short term. Only a financial guy sees people as liabilities and R&D as expenses without return, when in fact people are the greatest assets and R&D is critical to long term success. But when Jack Smith retired he got buddy Rick Wagoner appointed to CEO. All these guys are financial “wizards” and people without product vision. GM’s market share under their watch has dropped dramatically, but more importantly, GM’s engineering knowledge has dropped dramatically too. GM was never organized properly to begin with. GM never developed a “culture” internally to share knowledge, train that knowledge into new people, or even captures knowledge. The company developed a ladder climbing mentality and everyone knew that it was more important to look good and climb the ladder than doing a good job and training the people under you, so you never took a step backwards.

This will be an interesting story to watch, but we all need to be concerned because they want to take our tax dollars, too. Write your Congressman and tell them put a tax on gas and put a tax on carbon! Now are you having second thoughts about the environment and energy independence? It will not come cheap. Are you ready?

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Who is Rich Marks? How can he say what he says?

To reach me by email use my website on the link below to send an email; it is easy to access on the front page. Sorry but spam robots are vicious with published email addresses!

Richard W. Marks
EnVironmental Transportation Solutions, LLC
Detroit, MI

Biographical background on the author:

The author has always been interested in mechanical and electrical things. From early ages he took things apart and put them back together. He took that interest to college and graduated from University of Maryland with a BSME (Mechanical Engineering). He then went on to Cornell University and graduated with a MSME. He was recruited by General Motors Research Labs and went to work with GM in Warren, MI. He decided early on he wanted to get the experiences necessary to become a Car Division Chief Engineer. While that never happened, he did get a variety of great experiences in areas of vehicle structure, safety, durability, ride pleasibility, weight control, international structures program coordination, aero dynamics, chassis systems, and electric vehicles. He considers his expertise to be total vehicle systems with the understanding of how to conduct a production vehicle program start to finish.

He spent 25 years with GM, but his last 5 years were involved with the EV1 electric vehicle program and with EV conversion programs. He worked on the vehicle systems and assembly side and was involved with all the engineers and management team on the entire vehicle. He then initiated an activity to develop EV conversions that GM and its manufacturing partners could build in their own plants. While the EV1 was exceptional, it was also very expensive to develop and build. Conversions offered GM an opportunity to market and sell a much lower price EV to the commercial and consumer markets. He and his team built the first Chevy S10 conversion for GM and GM took that to production, but not with the author involved or in the way he had originally intended. The S10 GM built was costly and did not do very well in the market for many reasons.

After the S10, he pursued a relationship with Toyota to build a Geo Prizm conversion in the Fremont, CA plant. That project got relatively far along, until GM and Toyota could not resolve financial issues. Then his team converted a Geo Tracker 4 door to electric drive for a management demonstration and it was accepted as a worthwhile project to continue. The team pursued a relationship with Suzuki to convert the Tracker in the CAMI plant in Canada. Suzuki got very involved in the project and wanted to do this. Between the Toyota and Suzuki projects, the author made many trips to Japan and Europe and met with many of the suppliers making EV parts. Tracker was coming in initially too expensive and the team was told to reduce the cost by 30% if it was ever to reach production. Six months later the team had reduced costs more than 30% but GM decided they had changed their minds. The author then went off and pursued a couple other conversions.

One was going to be a low cost Postal Truck conversion (never built), well before the USPS issued their RFP for one in the 1998 time-frame. The other was to convert a small car, the “Chevy,” being built for the Mexican market (Actually it was a German Opel small car produced in Mexico). This project was coordinated and guided with two outside suppliers who had a great deal of electric vehicle experience. Two cars were converted. The one selected was outstanding and demonstrated how simple and low-cost a small car conversion could be. The car did not have air conditioning, but did have everything else. It went 65 mph and about 50-60 miles on a charge. It could be assembled in Mexico on the assembly line and brought to the US and certified. But again GM got cold feet and it was at that point that the author decided that his commitment to EV’s was far greater than GM’s. He left GM and walked out the door after nearly 25 years.

The over the next 6 years, the author took on two jobs with a couple of Tier 1 suppliers to the major US OEM’s. He got great experiences to complement his GM experiences. He learned how to quote projects, work with Tier 2 & 3 suppliers, did supplier development, learned quality systems, did Process Sign-Offs and Production Part Approval Processes, worked with manufacturing sites and even set up a low volume assembly line to build a specialty automotive truck. All of this was done as he continued to be in charge of the Engineering & Design Teams, and responsible for Project Management and Profit/Loss. Both jobs ended when both companies re-organized under new management from outside of the US.

At that point the author came back to his passion for electric vehicles and started a consulting company on EV’s, EnVironmental Transportation Solutions, LLC. He consulted for two companies trying to develop neighborhood and highway electric vehicles. Both companies failed to find investors and pay him for his work so finally he left to do his own road-worthy electric Low Speed Vehicle. He brought his work back to Michigan which included several prototypes he, with the help of others, had built (at his expense.) The EcoVElectric is the product his company is working on to get funded. The author is now writing a book to guide people doing EV conversions (converting gas cars to electric drive). His purpose is to bring his understanding of vehicle safety, both at the vehicle level and high voltage safey level and plug-n-play reliability to the surface that others can learn from his OEM knowledge. He wants converters to better understand the consequences they face with each decision they make as they modify their cars to electric drive. The book should help the EV cause in many different ways by making conversions less science fair projects, more safe and more enjoyable.
If you have questions, or need advise; I am an email away. Look for my book "The Converter's Guide to the Galaxy and EV Conversions," coming soon to eBay(?).

Lastly, in 2007 he joined the Electric Automobile Association (www.EAAEV.org) and got involved in creating a new Michigan Chapter. His goal was to help the EV converters of the EAA to understand better how to improve their conversions in many different regards. His focus has been on safety and reliability. This Guide is a result of that desire.
Join EAA; it is a great organization and they will help you with your conversion, too.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

What is going on with people investing in Electric Car companies?

We, www.EcoVElectric.com , are an electric car company and have not found any interest on the part of private investors, yet others are getting significant money. What is going on?

Who seems to be getting investment money and from where? Silicon Valley has put a $150M into Tesla and Tesla is struggling to build vehicles and are over a year late. So what?
Aptera just got $24M round C funding and Google.org’s RechargeIT program was a small part of this.

Think is working with $76M of funding out of Silicon Valley, too.

Phoenix is still in trouble and still trying to climb out of a hole.

Miles still has a long way to go and they really don’t know where they are either. There is a reason China is slow coming to the US. Miles may not even understand this. Again cars are not in their business experience.

Zenn is struggling and you can go to their financials and see they are selling less than 400 vehicles per quarter. Don’t know what the future holds for them.

And there are others. It does not take a rocket scientist to see the EV opportunity out there and it is growing. It is like 1990’s all over again. EV companies popping up all over, but few survived. Most again were very short on automotive fundamentals.

Do these companies have what it takes to be successful? Success is different for different people. Why are VC’s investing in these companies? It is not for a long term investment; it is all about pumping up the “value” of the company and then introducing “production” vehicles to the market and selling out after the IPO. Then will the companies survive? I believe they will not. Not without the key automotive based disciplines a world class company needs. These companies will be sold based on emotionalism, enthusiasm, and lots of hope and frustration about the World today. The VC’s will be all smiles as they reap great sums of money from an unknowing and unsuspecting public. Most of these companies are very weak on automotive understanding including design, engineering, test and validation. Most can’t wait to learn or do the proper testing. Most will probably end up in severe financial trouble within a couple of years of selling these untested battery systems they are going to use. They will potentially slowly die and disappear. People will be bitter and complain of a conspiracy against EV’s but it is so much more than that.

I worked on the GM EV1 and saw the problems a very large and wealthy corporation can get themselves into. No start up can spend $1,000,000,000 to build 1000 vehicles and then call them all back and crush them. Why did this happen? In addition to all the usual suspects presented in “Who Killed the Electric Car,” GM had other major issues they could not overcome. They pissed off their supply base by having many of the suppliers amortize GM’s tooling costs over unrealistic volumes and then GM shut the program down after building about a 1000 cars. GM never guarantees anything in their contracts. As we used to say in the Tier 1 supplier business, which I joined after GM, “the only thing worse than doing business with GM is not doing business with GM.” So what was the problem? GM did not do enough testing on EV1 and they sort of knew that. (Their lead acid batteries were no good and the Ovonic’s NiMH batteries were $40,000 a pack and those batteries were not very good either! Toyota with Panasonic had them both right. How did GM fix the S10 EV’s? They put in Panasonic lead acid batteries. How did Ford fix the Ranger EV’s, they took out the 8V GM lead acid EV batteries and put in Panasonic NiMH. Toyota and Panasonic did the proper testing and took the proper time to do it.) But then GM eliminated their supplier base, many of who would never build GM another EV1 production or service part ever again. GM had no option but to recall and crush the EV1’s. Bottomline, GM could afford to do this with their huge budgets. No small company will know all of this and know how to solve it, without extensive automotive experience. People from the software industry will take years and years to learn what they need. People from the sales and marketing side, don’t even know what they don’t know about automotive. It will probably kill them and their companies. Do the early VC investors care? No they don’t as long as they can get their money out before the deck of cards falls.

So what is EcoV’s problem? We don’t have the above issues because we are strongly trained and experience in automotive. We have done high and low volume production. We have done testing and validation. We have done the design, engineering and development of automobiles. We have done electric vehicles at the OEM’s. We have the people with experience from the Board Room to the show room. We know how to integrate customer needs with a low cost flexible product design, integrate supplier base, and integrate all the processes to develop, market, sell and service EcoV. These are all things a vehicle company must have.

But we are not sexy. We are not known by past accomplishments. We don’t have powerful investors on our side promoting us to their wealthy friends where everyone is after a quick buck. We are a company on a mission to provide a needed product that we know both fleets and the public wants and needs. We are trying to set up a sustainable business with a focus on still being around serving our customers in 50 years. With a 50 year survival plan you do things differently today than if you do if you have a 3 year plan to get in, pump it up, and get out. We are in it for the long haul not a short flash in the pan. So if these are things you are concerned about and consider important, we need to know and talk!
Do we need and want all of the above companies to be successful? Yes we do! We hope they will be. But they need to get a lot smarter, a lot quicker.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Energy Solution Today - Improved version

If everybody can agree on the major objectives, then we can start to develop real solutions.
Do you agree that the Nation’s objectives are:
1. Reduce our dependency on foreign oil, by using less
2. Improve World climate concerns through reduction in fossil fuel consumption
3. Encourage and promote the development of alternative fuel solutions in both the transportation sector and the energy sector.
4. Keep America growing, moving forward, and secure.

If the Congress can agree these are the objectives, then I propose some ideas to think about that will bring the 4 key groups to the table and participate in solving this problem. Congress is Group 1, the key and influential representatives in Congress. Group 2 are the energy companies. Group 3 is business/industry and Group 4 is the public consumer.

Here are ideas we need to talk about, discuss, & act upon. I welcome your thoughts & advise.
1.) First and most difficult, but extremely effective is to reduce the National speed limit back to 55 mph. 80% of Americans speed; which wastes more gasoline. Reducing speed limits from 70 mph to 55 mph saves about 17% in fuel (EIA and DOE). This is a real test for the environmentalist in Congress. 55 mph speed limit is easy to do and has major powerful benefits to solving all the objectives above. First it affects all 250,000,000 registered vehicles in the US, which no other alternative does. Second, it saves consumers money...17% or more in lower fuel bills. Third, it is safer for the driving public resulting in less deaths and injury. Lastly, it creates a much needed awareness that we, the public, have a very important role in this solution and conservation of energy. The situation today is far more serious than in the 70’s. Doing this will result in a very significant reduction in gasoline consumed...which is what everyone in Congress wants. But something must change, so change the speed limit.

2.) Michigan's Senator Levin proposed to move car CAFE to 36 mpg by 2025 and truck CAFE to 30 mpg by 2022, is good but mild compared to taking today’s cars and trucks and reducing max speed limits to 55 mph which results in an effective 34.3 mpg for today’s cars and 27 mpg for today’s trucks (based on 20% reduction in fuel). But instead of effecting just the 17M new cars and trucks, the new speed limit affects all 250,000,000 registered cars and trucks on the highway. WOW!

3.) Move towards making E20 the standard fuel for automobiles. Montana is pushing for EPA’s help on this. This would take a number of years to accomplish and hopefully researchers may be able to find an additive that would allow all cars past, present and future to use E20. (this is more correct than the blog entry below) E10 or gasohol is pretty much the standard fuel at gas stations and every auto manufacturer in the world approves use of E10 in their vehicles. E20 would by its composition eliminate 20% of the oil we are consuming. E20 is higher in octane and could eliminate the need to have regular, mid-grade and premium at the pumps. Economies of scale will help drive the cost down too. The energy companies need to take this on and get moving away from only oil solutions.

4.) a.) Auto companies need to work with making E20 the universal fuel. E85 can still be blended from E20. Now the “chicken and egg” problem with ethanol is gone and the OEM’s can improve their fuel economies for real to avoid the Federal penalties for not meeting current CAFE. Fuel economy will have to increase to make up the loss from using 20% ethanol. The AMFA 2005 is no longer necessary.
b.) Fleets, according to EPAct 1992 need to be held accountable for using “real” alternative fuel vehicles. Flex fuel vehicles should get AFV credits only to the percentage of E85 they use. Currently less than 1% of the time do they actually use E85. This is not the intent Congress wanted, so let’s fix it. Similarly, the OEM’s get a huge break on their CAFE (AMFA of 2005) by using FFV that are not burning E85. Fix this too, and fuel economy improves for real reasons.
5.) Restore the income tax credit incentive for electric vehicles, this expired last year and needs to be extended. Electric vehicles offer a natural environmental transportation solution that does not require anything to be burned. EV’s could be available soon; they need your help. Electric Low Speed Vehicles (LSV) where used as a replacement for a gas car or truck, should be allowed to count as an alternative fuel vehicle for fleets; EPA does not allow this. This must be fixed. We are a company in Michigan that will soon be building a LSV in Detroit and employing 200 workers plus another 600 in support of our plant! Fleets are the first market and they should get credit for using these in their fleets for city operations.

I believe we need to be proactive in our Country’s quest for reduced oil and energy consumption. Please consider and talk about these changes. It is another approach. We know the problems are serious and in order for change, something new must happen. This is a solid solution which is powerful in terms of accomplishing the objectives. I urge your support of this!


Friday, June 08, 2007

Proposal for an Energy Policy Change that Brings Real Results

This county needs to make changes beyond CAFE.
A real solution requires 4 groups to be involved: Congress, the energy companies, business/industry, and the Public. Without all four, it is not a complete solution. CAFE is only Congress and the auto companies. This is not a complete solution.
My Proposal for Congress's consideration:
Assumptions about what is important:
a) Reduce dependency on foreign oil by using less,
b) Encourage use of alternative forms of energy in the transportation sector
c) Keep America growing and moving forward
d) Reduce impact on our environment caused by burning fossil fuels.

Part 1 – Congress
a.) Make E20 the standard fuel (Sen. John Thume (S.D.) is proposing this)
b.) Enforce Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) initiatives to Fleets per EPAct 1992 and 2005. Eliminate the E85 fuel economy credits to auto companies and base it on the amount of E85 that is used. Flex Fuel Vehicles are no longer automatically AFV’s, but are counted based on the amount or percentage of alternative fuel used (100% alternative fuel = 1 credit; 10% used = 0.1 credits).
c.) Allow street legal electric Low Speed Vehicles to count as AFV’s where they are bought to replace a standard cars or trucks or are bought to do the duties of a standard cars or trucks. These are early electric vehicles available today and need your encouragement.
d.) Reinstate the Electric Vehicle tax credit. Encourage electric vehicles in addition to plug-in hybrids.

Part 2 – Energy Companies
a.) Mandatory E20 as the “standard” gas – 20% minimum amount of ethanol in gasoline. This is an immediate reduction of 20% in oil both foreign and domestic.
b.) Will also eliminates need for standard and mid-grade gasoline since ethanol increases octane. E20 is compatible with premium gas with octane of 91+ and could be piped through pipelines because one fuel fits all needs. This results in significant delivered cost reductions.
Gasoline today is moving towards 10% (E10) to eliminate other octane enhancers that are not environmentally healthy (MTBE). E85 can be blended from E20 but people will not buy it as long as standard gas is available. With E85 the loss of fuel economy approaches 20% and unless E85 is 20%+ lower in cost, it is not cost effective to use. Today is it not that much lower than standard gas. This is why no one is buying it.

Part 3 – Business and Industry
a) Auto companies – make necessary changes to use E20 and for Flex Fuel Vehicles to use E85. CAFE credit change is eliminated in Alternative Motor Fuels Act 2005 which will cause manufacturers to improve fuel economy. Parts 1 & 4 reduce gas consumption far more than any CAFE change.
b) All Fleets, with 20 or more vehicles must meet EPAct 1992 standards for AFV purchased as new or replacement vehicles (Federal, State, municipal, and commercial fleets must meet the intent of EPAct 1992; this is 75-90% AFV purchases.)
c) Industrial Fleets – encourage alternative fuel vehicles that reduce oil consumed. This means credit for Flex Fuel vehicles only to the extent they can demonstrate by percentage of alternative fuel used. Allow electric Low Speed Vehicles to be used as AFV’s, to encourage more electric vehicle products.

Part 4 Public
a) Mandatory maximum speed limit drops from 65 or 70mph to 55 mph. This is estimated to result in a 10% - 17% drop in fuel consumed in all vehicles on the road (250,000,000 registered vehicles)
b) The effect is immediate and occurs on all vehicles operating on public roads.
c) Benefits are significant since cost of driving drops 17% in fuel costs, safety at lower speeds improves, and less gas burned means less emissions.

Lastly, I would still suggest that Congress talk about increasing the tax on petroleum products. I have sent my JEDI Fund proposal many times before.