• Jun 22nd 2010 at 6:55PM
  • 26
Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources heard testimony on expanding the presence of electric cars in America. In short, the hearing gave plug-in vehicle supporters a chance to tell lawmakers what they think of this new breed of vehicles. There was a lot said in favor of plug-in vehicles, even if the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers did send a representative to voice some of the group's concerns about the bill under discussion (the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010, S. 3495). Kathryn Clay, Auto Alliance director, said:
We believe the legislation should allow manufacturers, fuel providers, and communities the flexibility to invest in multiple electric drive pathways, including fuel cell electric vehicle and related hydrogen infrastructure. In addition, we must recognize that future successes of electric drive vehicles will be enhanced by growth in today's hybrid electric vehicles, by establishing technical expertise and manufacturing capacity for batteries, motor and other key electronic components, and driving down their costs through production scale.
One part of the nearly two-hour hearing that jumped out at us was from Frederick Smith, the chairman, president and CEO of FedEx and also a member of the Electrification Coalition. Smith said:
In 2007, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Electric Power Research Institute published a well-to-wheels analysis of several different automotive technologies fueled by a range of sources commonly used to generate power. Their analysis concluded that using a PHEV would reduce carbon emissions as compared to a petroleum-fueled vehicle even if all of the exogenous electricity used to charge the PHEV was generated at an old coal power plant. Whereas a conventional gasoline vehicle would be responsible for emissions, on average, of 450 grams of CO2 per mile, a PHEV that was charged with power generated at an old coal plant would be responsible for emissions of about 325 grams of CO2 per mile, a reduction of about 25 percent. Emissions attributable to the vehicle could be reduced to as low as 150 grams of CO2 per mile if the exogenous power was generated at a plant without carbon emissions and ranged between 200 and 300 grams of CO2 per mile if the power used was generated using other fossil fuel generation technologies. In other words, no matter where the power consumed by a PHEV is generated, the overall level of emissions attributable to its operation is lower than that of a conventional gasoline vehicle. The EPRI/NRDC study findings were consistent with a 2007 MIT study that examined the same issue.
The video of the entire hearing isn't embeddable, but you can watch it here (you need to skip ahead to about minute 15 before anything happens). Oliver Hazimeh, director at PRTM Management Consultants, issued a statement before the hearing that kind of sums up the situation. He said, in part: "The advent of the electric car is no longer in question – only the timetable is." Hearings like today's just move that timetable up.

[Source: PRTM, Auto Alliance, U.S. Senate]


Statement from Oliver Hazimeh, director and head of Global E-Mobility Practice at PRTM, a global management consulting firm.

"PRTM applauds the work of Senators Dorgan and Merkley in drafting a bill (S.3495) that lays the groundwork for the dramatic increase in electric vehicle use in the United States. The advent of the electric car is no longer in question – only the timetable is. We estimate that by 2020 EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) could account for nearly 10 percent of new vehicle sales; our less conservative forecasts peg penetration at 20 percent. But like any disruptive innovation, the new value chain will bring numerous opportunities as well as risks. Companies that proactively stake their claim in this new landscape will be the ones leading the way in the next generation. That's why a concerted effort between many players across the electric vehicle value chain is needed to create a viable electrification ecosystem. This involves close collaboration of vehicle manufacturers, electric utilities, charging infrastructure providers, battery suppliers, service providers and local governments. By authorizing funding for electric vehicle infrastructure and establishing a grant program for deployment communities, Congress has taken the first step to making this viable electrification ecosystem a reality

Testimony from Kathryn Clay, director of research for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

Chairman Bingaman, Ranking Member Murkowski, and Members of the Committee,

Good morning, my name is Kathryn Clay and I am the Director of Research for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The Alliance is a trade association made up of eleven car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, and Volkswagen Group. On behalf of the member companies of the Alliance I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you about the industry views of S. 3495, the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 sponsored by Senators Dorgan and Merkley. We commend the sponsors for their leadership on the issue of electric drive vehicle deployment. The Alliance looks forward to working with the Bill's sponsors, and the members of this Committee, to address important concerns we have with the legislation in its current form.

Automakers share the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and enhancing energy security. We continue to support a national approach for an economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction program that will result in GHG emissions reductions from all sectors at the lowest cost with the least amount of negative economic impact.

At the same time, we recognize our responsibility as automakers to reduce emissions from our sector, and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We have demonstrated our commitment to this principle through our support of the One National Program to impose GHG emissions standards and increase fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles for the years 2012 through 2016. This landmark agreement accelerates by four years the pace set in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which required a 40 percent increase in fuel economy standards by 2020. As a result, we will reduce our nation's oil consumption by 1.8 Billion barrels and lower GHG emissions by approximately 950 million metric tons. Moreover, automaker CEOs recently stood with the President in support of a process for new standards from 2017 through 2025.

Meeting the diverse and challenging requirements of the transportation sector will only be possible through a portfolio of advanced powertrain technologies. Continued improvements to the efficiency of the internal combustion engine will play a significant role. But in the coming decades, the vehicle fleet will be much more technologically diverse, with growing proportions of flex fuel, clean diesel and electric drive vehicles on our nation's roadways.

However, in order to achieve the ambitious target of an economy wide 83 percent reduction of GHG emissions by 2050 electric drive vehicles will play a critical role, with hybrid, battery electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles offering unique benefits in different vehicle segments. For this reason, we believe the legislation should allow manufacturers, fuel providers, and communities the flexibility to invest in multiple electric drive pathways, including fuel cell electric vehicle and related hydrogen infrastructure. In addition, we must recognize that future successes of electric drive vehicles will be enhanced by growth in today's hybrid electric vehicles, by establishing technical expertise and manufacturing capacity for batteries, motor and other key electronic components, and driving down their costs through production scale.

In order for electric drive vehicles to play a critical role in this country's transportation future, long term and consistent federal policies are needed to transition from a low volume niche market to sustainable high volumes. Achieving widespread acceptance of these technologies requires focused efforts to align regulatory efforts; develop a supporting infrastructure; provide research and development; and provide incentives for consumer adoption and remove other market barriers. Unfortunately, S. 3495 falls short of establishing the necessary elements for a comprehensive and sustainable approach. The Alliance submitted numerous comments to improve on the Bill that were not adopted. As a result, the Alliance is not able to support the Bill as written.

As an industry, we have significant concerns about an approach that would limit investments to a handful of communities, particularly at such an early stage of electric vehicle deployment. This creates a small number of communities that would "win" and receive significant federal dollars while the rest of country loses out. Attempts to prejudge the market bring tremendous risks, and the problem is compounded by making just a few large bets. We need a long term "building block" approach that will lead to a sustainable future for electrification – not a program that pits one community against another or one state against another in a limited competition for federal funding.

Opening up the grant program to a larger number of communities, with wide regional representation, would avoid limiting automakers' potential customer base for these vehicles and maximize the chances of success for our public investments overall – even if this means that individual communities would receive lower levels of total funding.

Automakers need consistent regulatory policies to move us toward our collective goal to expand penetration of electric vehicles on U.S. roads. One issue especially critical to this discussion is how upstream emissions will be treated in future policies and rulemakings. Until the U.S. enacts a comprehensive climate program that significantly alters how we produce electricity, electric vehicles will be only marginally better from a total greenhouse gas perspective than conventional internal combustion engines, and less beneficial than hybrids given the mix of fuels used to generate our current (and near term) supply of electricity.

As a result, basing policy on including upstream emissions creates a huge disincentive for producing electric vehicles versus other less costly (and less game-changing) technologies. This approach would also be unfair in that it would treat plug-in vehicles differently than other end-uses of electricity, making vehicle manufacturers uniquely responsible for upstream emissions – emissions over which automakers have no control. This precedential policy would create an unlevel playing field among the regulated community and create additional barriers that will be counter-productive to market penetration of electric vehicles; a direct deterrent to the very goals that the legislation is trying to avoid and overcome.

We believe that any strengthening of consumer incentives should be integrated into the existing program which currently provides up to $7,500 per vehicle and is based key on performance parameters related to battery size captured in existing law. This federal incentive promotes all types of plug-in electric vehicles equitably across all potential consumer segments. A single federal incentive program will avoid confusion and promote greater certainty with customers irrespective of where they live. Examples of strengthening the existing incentive include making it available to consumers at the point of sale, along with increasing the amount and number of vehicles to which it applies.

Another measure lacking in the bill is ongoing funding for U.S. facilities for the production of critical electric drive components such as electric motors, electric drive transmissions, and advance battery components. Almost all of these critical components continue to be manufactured overseas and imported into the U.S. trading our dependency from foreign petroleum to critical electric drive components. We need legislation that focuses on long term investment in the U.S. to adequately compete with developing countries for the production of these components.

The Bill would also ban landfill disposal of advanced technology batteries, which is not justified at this time. Provisions for the safe recycling and eventual disposal of advanced tech batteries need to be developed based on the best science. We propose that, in place of a ban, the recycling study required by the bill should be expanded to address recommendations for appropriate disposal of these batteries.

A key way to move forward on infrastructure planning and consumer outreach is to build on the success of the existing Department of Energy programs. This work to expand electric vehicle infrastructure, particularly through the transportation electrification efforts started through Recovery Act funding and the electric drive vehicle activities under the Clean Cities program, should receive significant funding increases to support an expanded, sustained effort to enhance our national readiness for electric drive vehicles.

For any technology to be successful it must be consumer driven, and a national program that helps the consumer with the most pressing need, residential charging, offers the best opportunity for sustainable growth and deployment of electric drive vehicles. Business models must be developed that will allow the private sector to deploy charging infrastructure in the full range of residential situations including high rise buildings, garden apartments, and town houses. A range of innovative solutions to address the challenges facing both residential and workplace charging should be funded and we believe the most efficient solution is to provide the Department of Energy's existing programs with significant funding increases to support a comprehensive, national program.

S. 3495 would establish an Interagency Electric Drive Working Group to align federal programs with our national goals for electric drive vehicles. The Alliance supports this position, and believes that a strengthened interagency process would provide greater coordination of federal expenditures related to electric drive technologies and of regulatory efforts across the federal government. We further recommend that the Administration designate a lead official with the responsibility, and budget authority, needed to direct the activities of the working group. The Bill would also establish an Electric Fuel Task Force, which the Alliance believes would enable the private sector to engage collaboratively with the administration to address the challenges to large scale deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles.

Automakers are committed to advancing electric mobility. Our member companies have already announced plans to launch plug-in hybrid, extended range hybrid, battery electric, and fuel-cell vehicles in the coming model years, and are hard at work developing the next generation of electric-drive vehicles that will follow. We look forward to working with the Committee, Senator Dorgan, and Senator Merkley to address the infrastructure and consumer acceptance issues that will be so important to the ultimate success of these vehicles, and their contribution to our national goals

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      After viewing the entire proceedings:

      1- The Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers (aka Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Jaguar, etc.) do not want to make electric cars. How else would their opposition to this piece of legislation be explained? I challenge these companies to not oppose this legislation if they wish to be viewed as serious about an electric vehicle future.

      2- The data from the National Research Council is over 2 years old. They had a price per kW on Li-Ion batteries that would make the Nissan Leaf battery pack $42,000, when the entire vehicle costs $32,000. They didn't even study a possible future with full electric vehicles. How could an organization purporting to be a leader in research in the field have such outdated information when testifying BEFORE THE US SENATE?

      3- The energy source to make the electricity should matter, despite what the DOE man and the Electrification Coalition say. Cleaner electricity is important no matter what. Any roll out of electric vehicles should address this, even though coal sourced electric cars have less emissions in the cities and per mile than a gas engine, it still should be part of any big picture outlook in zero pollution transportation. And with regards to batteries, Lithium Ions are the future, nickel metal hydrides are the past. No reason not to state the obvious.

      4- The 500 mile battery pack is completely unnecessary. When looking at an electric car future, the whole point is that we don't need a car for every whim and fancy we can think of. Long distances are for trains. Short distances are for walking and bicycles. The electric vehicle offers the ability to commute with no emissions, while taking advantage of a truly convertible power station to draw electricity during the night and deliver back during peak times as necessary.

      5- Car Sharing. The electric car is made to be used in a revolutionary new way. As much as everyone would like a sleek and shiny electric car for themselves, that's what got us into this mess in the first place. Only through better allocation of resources and working together can we really break our dependence on the personally owned automobile. We don't depend on a slimy substance, but we have learned to lean on the crutch of a car in every garage. And we can learn to walk again without it.

      6- I took a hydrogen fuel cell class last semester. They are not ready for implementation in automobiles on a mass scale. 95% of hydrogen is currently sourced from natural gas. Fuel cells are testy, temperamental, and cars are not the best place for them. 20 years out if we are lucky. This argument has been closed so many times it begins to sound a lot like the global warming debate. If you don't believe in global warming, fine, do you believe in pollution? Do you think higher asthma rates in cities happen by accident? Is the giant pacific garbage patch a made up story? Hydrogen fuel cells are a noble endeavor, but I don't want one. I don't have a hydrogen source in every room in my place. I do, however, have an outlet, many in fact. They are all over, in every indoor place in the country. The simplicity of an electric car may be its weakness. This is too easy. Use the current electricity we don't use at night, use transportation options more suited to the distance they cover (ie a train across the country), and use it in the best application possible today. Car Sharing is growing exponentially. Get a membership in your local car sharing club, buy a used bike, and get a bus pass.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Research Director Mr. David Friedman
        Union of Concerned Scientists

        I think he must get paid $100,000 for each time he says the word "hydrogen".

        He wanted the senate to add more funding for Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Infrastructure into this bill.

        Senator Dorgan called him out for suggesting it. Sen. Dorgan already has separate appropriations for Hydrogen. $174 Million per year of funding that was re-added after the Congress cut it out the year before.

        Sen. Dorgan said that is Not the rapid near-term deployment... and that " the rapid near-term deployment" is Electric Vehicles.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Senator Dorgan totally owned he National Research Council when he mentioned that the Leaf Battery would cost more than the MSRP of the whole car, according to their estimates.

        "The Construct you have produced is... off the mark"
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see a lot of conflicting parts in the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers statement. On the one hand they are counting upstream emissions to make plug-ins look worse against conventional ICE vehicles (they advocate more incremental changes to the ICE rather than a bold move to plug-ins). On the other hand, they don't want automakers to be responsible for upstream emissions.

      They also slip-in HFCVs into the electric drive/vehicle category along with the rest of the plug-ins (PHEVs, EREVs, BEVs) even though the main challenges between the two are completely different (electricity/plug vs hydrogen station infrastructure, fuel cell/containers vs battery technology etc). I think there needs to be separate bill for hydrogen infrastructure if anything is to be done on that front. Just tacking it on to an EV bill isn't going to do much, esp since this bill doesn't focus on motors/power electronics, which are pretty much the only thing they share.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Evan. Don't forget emissions from oil exploration and drilling, pumping and storing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Upstream emissions! What the oil companies wont tell you is who the largest user of electricity in the US is. Yep, you guessed it "oil refining". It takes 19kWH of electricity to refine a gallon of gas. A gallon of gas will propel the average car 28 miles, so will 19kWH in the average EV conversion. I'm not going to mention the toxic fumes, that anyone who lives near a refinery will tell you continuously, are spewed into the atmosphere. Again, another lie to keep the waters muddy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Currently, gasoline cars are counted only for Pump-to-Wheels emissions (gramsCO2/km)
        8.8 kg/gallon of gasoline

        If they were to include the emissions of gasoline's total life cycle emissions
        ..... for a total of 11.5 kgCO2/gal.... Carbon Credits would need to increase by ~31%

        So even those low emission cars at 100gramsCO2/km will ACTUALLY be 131gramsCO2/km... or the 89gramsCO2/km Prius is ACTUALLY 117gramsCO2/km.
        When using the full Well-to-Wheels emissions.

        And EVs such as the Nissan Leaf are estimated to have 110gramsCO2/km using the full Well-to-Wheels emissions on the U.S. Average Grid Mix of 50% coal.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Convenient how they ignore the upstream emissions from refining and transporting oil.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The only automakers that "are counting upstream emissions to make plug-ins look worse" are the ones NOT wanting to make any at all.

        Most of that "counting upstream emissions to make plug-ins look worse" comes from the Oil company lobbyists.

        Interesting enough, they are also the ones whispering into the ears of every politician in that committee..... reminding them how important campaign contributions are to getting elected in November.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Did you see the pictures of the drilling rigs in the Gulf. They all have a huge flaming pipe sticking out of the rig where they burn off the natural gas that naturally occurs with the oil.

        How much emissions does that count for?

        Then there are the "accidents" that happen all too often:
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Randy C, my EV uses 33 kwh to go over 120 miles so a EV or at least mine, will go well over 60 miles on 19 kwh.

      • 5 Years Ago
      The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) represents most of the auto companies in Washington and calls the shots for many of those companies, including their time lines to maximize profits and as a conduit for channeling campaign funds and favors to the nation's law-makers. Like the American Petroleum Institute (API), these are the lobbyist for the car makers. It has been said that the API and AAM have been in bed with each other since their inception...combining the interest of Oil and Autos.

      Their membership includes The BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen Group of America. It's interesting that Nissan and Renault are not included.

      In the 1990's the idea of H2 was introduced as a red herring to divert funding from pure electric cars and help stall the advancement of non-fossil fueled autos. And, it's still doing the job for the AAM, gathering research funding away from plug-ins. Wasting the funding that will provide for long-range BEVs.

      • 5 Years Ago
      The auto makers are protecting their parts and service model. Combustion engines are a 19th century technology that have too many moving parts, create too much heat and friction, and require way too much maintenance. Requiring owners to bring their cars into a dealer every 5000 miles and grossly overpay for parts and service is the is a very lucrative continuing stream of revenues.

      An EV requires a fraction of the maintenance, which is their worst nightmare and why they keep dragging their feet. If you look closely at studies funded by the auto manufacturers comparing costs, you'll see that the savings in maintenance costs with an EV isn't mentioned.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The automakers also have a tight relationship with oil companies. And there seems to be a hidden promise to delay Battery EVs and focus on Fuel Cell Vehicles.

        If BEVs gain too much market share between now and 2015, when the supposed infrastructure is built, then FCVs may not be able to gain a market.

        And oil companies will lose control of the transportation sector. With FCVs, they keep full control.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Good idea from one of the participants who said that we must recognize that future successes of electric drive vehicles will be enhanced by growth in today's hybrid electric vehicles, by establishing technical expertise and manufacturing capacity for batteries, motor and other key electronic components, and driving down their costs through production scale. It's good that it has been realized.

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      • 5 Years Ago
      Auto Alliance does not contain any automakers who make just EV's (Tesla, Coda, etc.) or plan to mass produce profitable electric cars within the next decade (Nissan). As such, they benefit from slowing down or stopping electrification.


      The Electrification Coalition contains companies (Nissan, Coda, Fedex, Cisco, AeroVironment, Johnson Controls, A123, etc.) that are making electrification happen now and are trying to make it happen faster. These companies have taken leadership positions in business-viable electrification of transportation and will benefit from speeding up electrification.


      The two groups testimonies reflect their intents:
      -Auto Alliance wants to slow down (or stop) mass-market electrification, but still wants government R&D money
      -Electrification Coalition wants the electrification of vehicles
      • 5 Years Ago
      Very Important:

      That emissions data for PHEVs (350 grams CO2 per mile or 218 gramsCO2/km) DOES take into account a certain percentage of driving with the gasoline engine running (range extended mode).

      My calculations of the Nissan Leaf using 100% coal is WTW only 148 gramsCO2/km (236 gramsCO2/mile)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Very interesting speech @ 22min when Sen. Dorgan talks about how in the Early 20th century, Diesels running on veggie oil and Electric cars were just as available as gasoline cars.

      Then, when Ford made the Model T and chose gasoline as the primary fuel, Congress in 1917 "picked the winner" and gave massive incentives to the Oil and gasoline sector. Thus making gasoline so cheap that the EV died.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As usual, the Energy Security of the fact that the EV is run using domestically produced energy where the ICE is powered by an international commodity that we are forced to import is discounted.

      Even were emissions precisely equal there is a value to the EV, even if the coal fired power plants were WORSE there is a value to domestically produced energy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      98 minutes:

      CEO of FedEx, Frederick Smith:

      "Our studies would indicate that Plugin Electric Vehicles, even if powered by coal power plants that have NOT been modified to clean up the emissions, on a well-to-wheel basis, produced significantly less CO2 emissions than conventionally powered vehicles.

      "Now if the power source is Hydro, Geo-thermal, Nuclear, Solar or Wind.... so much the better. But, there's a net benefit even with coal power plants"
      • 5 Years Ago
      You guys (commenters) need to remember something--Automakers need to make money to survive. (Unless you are Tesla, Fisker, Aptera, etc.)

      Cars are a mass market good. They must be built and sold in volume to be profitable at modest prices. They must be reliable, day in and out, over wide variety of conditions.

      Batteries don't have the energy density to compete with gasoline yet.

      Instead of trying to force feed the public short range, expensive electric cars, the government should be spending money on battery research. Because the moment that batteries get to even 1/4 the energy density of gasoline, at a reasonable price, then mass market electric vehicles will be viable.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Demand for EVs is turning out to be much larger than anticipated.

        It is not true that batteries cannot compete with gasoline. No more true that 2 seater sport cars cannot compete with minivans.

        There is demand for both, in separate markets. Long range travel, and a suburban commuter.

        The public doesn't need to be "force fed" anything. The public has been demanding this for decades. But no automaker has delivered. And when they did in the 90's, they took them back.


        Automakers have promises to keep. Because they were heavily funded by investments from parts and service companies and oil companies.

        And Oil companies favor Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles. Automakers are trying to stall until 2015, when Oil companies are promising to have a fueling infrastructure ready. If EVs are already gaining ground by 2015, that will harm FCV sales.

        And without FCVs, the oil companies lose control over the transportation sector.
        • 5 Years Ago
        what browser are you using?

        If Firefox or Chrome... look for an extension (addon) called IETab.

        It will use Window's native Internet Explorer (without opening a separate window) which should work.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +++1 Joe.

        Dam computer! It won't let me watch the link.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Tthe Nissan LEAF is a profitable and mass-market viable EV. The lower operating cost of EV's also looks very promising to commercial users.

        Now, some of the lagging automakers have not made the development investments needed to offer viable products to compete with Nissan. The majority of what the suggested government spending on "battery research" will do is give money to companies that have fallen behind on research and development. Basically, the EV bill rewards the leaders and pushes electric vehicles to market faster. The EV marketplace will then stimulate battery innovation- leading to overall better batteries than just giving automakers money. The "give money to all the automakers" approach rewards the laggards and slows EV adoption rates.

        Government spending on R&D is important and should continue. But slowing down EV adoption rates in order to further fund all domestic automaker's R&D budgets is not a good use of vehicle electrification funding.
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