In modern history, it is all too rare that a progressive activist is able to achieve his or her goals (just read A People's History if you doubt this). Felix Kramer – a name that should be familiar to many regular AutoblogGreen readers – is at that stage, though, and he took a moment to celebrate the arrival of actual, OEM production plug-in vehicles at the beginning of his speech at the Green Drive Expo in Richmond, CA this past weekend.

See, for the past decade, Kramer has worked tirelessly to promote plug-in vehicles. He started the non-profit organization CalCars in 2002 and helped with the first Prius conversion in 2004 in the Bay Area. Since then, he's been busier than almost anyone in the movement to get plug-in vehicles to market. Since the Green Drive Expo crowd was full of similar-minded people, they heartily responded to his story.

What's interesting is that Kramer is, in some ways, moving beyond the plug-in car now. Electrons, even those generated by coal, are cleaner than gas, but Kramer said that the best unit of energy is a negawatt, energy you didn't use in the first place. The same thing with a negamile. "I love plug-in cars, but a mile not driven is the best use of resources," he said, explaining why he is moving to a place five blocks from a BART station and is hoping to someday reduce his garage from two plug-in vehicles today to zero by using Zipcar or some other carsharing service. The entire reason he supports plug-in cars after all, is because of climate change and energy security. Thus, his support for the negamile.

Kramer called his ten years (so far) with CalCars, "The best time of my life," and ended his presentation with a recommendation for people to go visit plug-in vehicle news sites (like ABG) and to prepare for National Plug-in Day on October 16th (you can download a PDF of his slides that accompanied his talk here). Other projects he's busy with these days are getting a 4WD plug-in available in the U.S. and a push to make the federal $7,500 tax credit available for conversions, not just new vehicles. Kramer's next challenge is "The Big Fix," a plan to convert millions of old vehicles on the road today to plug-in hybrid technology. In other words, once an activist, always an activist.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 7 Comments
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      Felix, I must say that I really do miss getting your Cal-Cars News emails. But thanks for all the work over the last 10 years regardless!
      • 2 Years Ago
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      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      So Felix Kramer and his pals did a Prius conversion in 2004 and Toyota will finally come out with a 2012 Plug-In Prius. Really Toyota? 8 years? And then you price it at $32K despite the fact that you can get bulk purchase battery prices? And why such a small battery? I was just about to get being the plug-in Prius because the other options are so expensive. But Toyota really disappointed us all. But it is a (small) step in the right direction.
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 3 Years Ago
      Should have rebates instead of tax incentives for new EV's and conversions and get this party started.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EVSUPERHERO
        I agree, rebates are a far more equitable method of granting incentives.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thanks for a thoughtful writeup! It's nice to encounter another fan of Howard Zinn! Another credit is to Amory Lovins for "negawatts" -- good discussion of implications at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negawatt_power . Saturday was challenging because I had to peel the audience away from the cars to come to the talk, so for the first time in my life, I became a cheerleader. In the process, I got myself revved up! My presentation (16 slides) is my talk is at http://www.calcars.org/downloads.html And primitive audio from my phone of all but the first minute is at http://www.calcars.org/calcars-greendriveexpo-felix-20110917.mp3
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      So Felix Kramer and his pals did a Prius conversion in 2004 and Toyota will finally come out with a 2012 Plug-In Prius. Really Toyota? 8 years? And then you price it at $32K despite the fact that you can get bulk purchase battery prices? And why such a small battery? I was just about to get being the plug-in Prius because the other options are so expensive. But Toyota really disappointed us all. But it is a (small) step in the right direction.