Clean Cities 05 :: Tai Robinson Reports
Clean Cities Conference, May 2-3, 2005
Posted Tuesday, 10 May 2005 - All Text Below

The 11th annual Clean Cities conference was held in Palm Springs This year was the first time the DoE has stepped back from the conference and the private sector has taken it over. The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Institute did a wonderful job hosting the event with the help of the Clean Cities Cochella Valley Region planning committee. Over 1000 attendees participated with exhibitors and sponsors providing great entertainment and innovative technology for clean air solutions. Besides reporting on the event, my girlfriend and new partner at Intergalactic Hydrogen, Laura Farkas and I both volunteered for the event to give even more of our time to the clean fuel industry. At the final wrap-up for the event, my business card was drawn for the grand prize. The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium provided a direct methanol fuel cell demo car kit. This demonstration fuel cell will be a permanent fixture in my multi-fuel H2TOY and will be used proudly during my continuing hydrogen and clean fuel education effort. I am pleased to add methanol to the growing list of fuels including Hydrogen, CNG, E85 and biodiesel with a wind generator and solar photovoltaic panel that are on board my truck on a daily basis. With over 130,000 clean fuel miles around the Nation on my truck to date, this shows that anybody can do this while reducing their fuel cost and it is real technology available today. I would suggest though that if we are going to take these AFV's and the cleaner fuels mainstream that we must stop calling them the "Alternative". We can keep the AFV initials, but I propose that we call them American Fuel Vehicles in this country, or Cleaner Fuel Vehicles for the international crowd. Look for next years annual conference to be hosted in Phoenix, AZ.

An Overview of ASE TechNews Alternate Fuel Technology
Bob Rodriguez

You requested, while at the recent Clean Cities Conference or the ATMC Conference, a listing of the alternative fuels articles ASE has made available (at no charge) to those concerned about reducing petroleum usage and gaining energy independence through the use of alternative fueled vehicles.

The AFV articles we've published are intended for those desiring to know more about advanced vehicle technology, clean fuels and clean vehicles. Those finding the information most useful include fleet owners / managers, training instructors and technicians, and Clean Cities partners. Even those in government have found the articles informative. Our target audience nears 600,000 automotive technicians, trainers and industry partners. Clean Cities coalitions and other associations have already reprinted one or more of these "advancing the choice" articles.

Below is an Executive Summary of the AFV articles published thus far in ASE's TechNews magazine, plus one soon to be released.

Should you desire to have any of these articles sent to you (as PDF files) at no charge, simply let me know.
We encourage reprinting them, and ask only that ASE be given credit as the source.

Bob Rodriguez
ASE Technical Specialist
ATMC Administrative Director
101 Blue Seal Drive, S.E., Suite 101
Leesburg, VA 20175
ASE: 703.669-6634
ATMC: 703-669-6670

Hi Electrifying Times!

The eDrive plug-in Prius was built with the help of my friend Seth Seeberg from his new company CleanTech. They are advertising it as an 100+ mpg vehicle. I read a story in TIME magazine yesterday that says utilities  are thinking about offering a $1000 grant to purchasers of plug-in hybrids. I never got to drive the vehicle. The batteries got to hot by the time I got to it. It looks normal except the new digital readout on the dashboard. The FTP 75 test with a 12 mile drive never going above 55 mph really favors this kind of vehicle and the SCAQMD reportedly found the vehicle to get over 250 mpg on this test. In the real world you will more likely get about 100mpg.

There were other great vehicles on hand also...

This from Katie Romans

EDrive media advisory

"Media advisory for the launch of EDrive Systems LLC's new battery technology that enables hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, to be plugged in and charged by a conventional 3-prong, 110-volt home electrical outlet. The launch will take place at the Clean Cities Conference, May 2-3, where we will have a Toyota Prius outfitted with the new technology available for viewing and rides. Seth and the engineers of the technology will also be on-hand and available for interviews. This cutting-edge technology offers a promising alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles that rely on foreign oil and emit greenhouse gases. I hope you will find this launch as interesting and exciting as we do."

The pure electric vehicle from ETEC and Roush is based on a Ford that is available for the rest of the world as a gasoline burner. It has good cargo capacity and started as a heavy duty vehicle and was electrified instead of being a light duty EV that is upgraded to haul heavy loads. I did not get to drive it. Too busy with my volunteer duties which is how I got into the event this year with my girlfriend Laura.

APS is Arizona Public Service in Phoenix. They have a hydrogen filling station that I fill up at for $2.25 a kilo of Hydrogen which is half the cost of gasoline. Included above is a photo of the H2 station and a photo of Laura Farkas, my girlfriend with two of APS's electric Rangers.

The 2 white Ford Ranger EV's at APS are for sale. The heat was killing the batteries in Phoenix. Both cars are in great shape except dead battery packs. Roush has a stock pile of those exact battery packs from the Ranger and could get it up and running.

I have a couple photos of Escape's at CC11 in Palm Springs during the ride-n-drive. APS is mostly using their Escape for transport to their Solar test facility which is always away and they do not want to run out of CNG or H2 when traveling back and forth between downtown and out in the desert. Ray Hobbs is in charge of the future fuels program at APS and Joyce Collier is another contact I have there.

We made it all the way to Phoenix from Snowbird using CNG and a little ethanol. Once there we drove around on hydrogen and blended H2 and CNG. I used H20, or 20%H2 with CNG to drive to California from there and then we filled up with H2 at Sunline transit. We drove around CA on H2 and blends of H2 and CNG and then made it all the way home to Utah using CNG.

At the Clean Cities conference my business card was drawn in the final awards ceremony and I won a methanol fuel cell demo car kit from NAFTC. I now have methanol as another fuel to demonstrate on board my vehicle all the time with a wind generator, PV solar panels, BioDiesel, Ethanol, CNG and H2. I am looking for partners to join in the upgrade of my mobile education demonstration truck to add the ability to use propane and to upgrade from a manual open loop system to an automatic closed loop system.

I saw Eric Henry of TS Designs, who made the Intergalactic Hydrogen T-Shirt, in Scottsdale at the Sun Festival where I delivered a workshop presentation on 7 cleaner fuels available today around the country for less cost than gasoline or diesel. The workshop was standing room only!

Felix Kramer, Founder of California Cars Initiative, sent this to me while I was on the road:

"Here's a general press backgrounder (will send you NYTimes and BizWeek clips separately) What if your readers could do something about two of today's gravest threats: global warming and energy security? I hope what's below persuades you the momentum's building enough to suggest they take a good look, both as citizens and as car buyers, at "gas-optional hybrids" or "plug-in hybrids" (GO-HEVs /PHEVs).

For your convenience, I've rounded up evidence of growing attention to what has been a "sleeper" solution, now coming to life. First, press coverage (links to all at
* Business Week 's first story in a major U.S. business magazine April 11 issue
* New York Times automotive writer Danny Hakim's BizSection P.1 story Saturday focused on the grass-roots CalCars' "PRIUS+" and the bigger picture April 2
* Business Week TV profiled PHEV inventor April 3
* Automotive News wrote about them for the first time on March 28
* Newsweek's International editor Fareed Zakaria envisioned 500 MPG cars March 5
* The Economist pronounced them the future platform Dec '04
* The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)'s prestigious publication named PHEVs Winner of their International 2004 Technology Forecast
* A wave of bloggers, including 600 postings in one day at, the leading techie website

Below I have included:
1. Other public interest in GO-HEVs / PHEVS
2. Recent comments by OEMs on PHEVs
3. A summary of CalCars and our PRIUS+ project

... all of which will, I hope, help you consider if this is the right time for you to share the next developments with your readers. Thanks in advance for your interest in what we're up to. I'll be checking in to see if you'd like to find out more.

Felix Kramer
Founder, California Cars Initiative
Palo Alto, California
voice 650.599.9992 cell 650.520.5555


PHEVs are the "sleeper" solution that many people are starting to see can triple the MPG of today's current hybrids with no new technology. Car companies have said "they're too complex, and there's no market for them." (-just like what they once said about hybrids.) OEMs have dismissed the prototypes that they helped build as science projects. They've promoted fuel cell cars, but more and more people are realizing they're decades away, and understand that PHEVs can be the platform for all future automotive development.

Many people are getting excited about PHEVs. (Get to links to all the following developments from

* The California Cars Initiative (CalCars)and our partners have "green-tuned" two Priuses to demonstrate how car companies could do it -- and get up to 180 MPG (plus cheaper, cleaner electricity). More prototypes are on the way. Thousands of Prius owners online are talking about this breakthrough, asking when they can convert to what we call "PRIUS+." Already one battery maker, Valence (NASDAQ VLNC) sees a major business opportunity in "installed kits."

* DaimlerChrysler has become the first OEM to commit to a small PHEV development program (on its Sprinter commercial van platform).

* In the past few months, a unique "green-neocon" alliance has formed to promote steps to energy security, that's now endorsing PHEVs that we could build now, rather than fuel cell technologies that could be decades away. The December report from the blue-ribbon National Commission on Energy Policy, followed by the March 28 press conference to announce a letter on energy policy to President Bush from 31 national security officials, have focused more interest on PHEVs.

* Some electric- utilities and - state government officials are planning a large buy order to prime the market and attract car makers. Others see PHEVs as a way for at least one manufacturer to leapfrog past existing auto makers, and others at many levels of California government see the opportunity for a domestic PHEV design/assembly industry.


DAIMLERCHRYSLER: Nick Cappa, manager of advanced technology communications: "It's just an idea program," (AUTOMOTIVE NEWS- "a great opportunity to develop the vehicles we foresee in the future." (BUSINESS WEEK) "This is part of a small program investigating these technologies." (NYTIMES)

FORD: Gerhard Schmidt, VP of Research and Advanced Engineering: "We are looking at a range of potential alternative fuel solutions to address the issues around eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and global warming - and it may include a plug-in hybrid. (CORRESPONDENCE TO AN INDIVIDUAL--WEEKS AFTER RECEIPT, FORD REQUESTED IT NOT BE FOR PUBLICATION)

TOYOTA Motor Sales U.S.A. Cindy Knight: "We're exploring every avenue" for reducing reliance on petroleum, she says. (AUTOMOTIVE NEWS) David Hermance, Toyota's executive engineer for environmental engineering: "We keep looking at the concept, and at some point it might be feasible, but it isn't there yet," (BUSINESS WEEK) "They say this is the next great thing, but it just isn't" ..."The electric utilities really want to sell electricity and they want to sell it to the transportation sector because that expands their market. They have an agenda." ...And Mr. Hermance of Toyota said that batteries today were not durable enough to handle the wide range of charging up and charging down that a plug-in hybrid would need, calling that the most damaging thing you can do to a battery .... Mr. Hermance said the feature [EV Button] was disabled in Priuses sold in the United States because of complications it would have created in emissions-testing rules. (NY TIMES)


Below is a quick background summary on CalCars, Gas-Optional or Plug-In Hybrids (GO-HEVs or PHEVs) and the PRIUS+ Project

The California Cars Initiative ( is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup. We're a group of entrepreneurs, engineers and other citizens promoting high-efficiency low-emission cars and harnessing buyer demand to help commercialize advanced technologies. Somewhat uniquely, we focus both on public policy and technology development. Starting in early 2005, our efforts began to be noticed; in the first week of April 2005, we were covered in The New York Times and Business Week.

We're demonstrating the immediate opportunity and benefits of what are variously called "gas-optional or plug-in" hybrids (GO-HEVs or PHEVs). The next generation of hybrid cars can be based entirely on existing components. They're basically like some current hybrids but with larger batteries and the ability to re-charge conveniently, so local travel is electric, yet the vehicle has unlimited range. While hybrids may cut gasoline use by on-third, PHEVS can cut out another third. We see it as the future pathway to multi-fuel PHEVs, including biodiesel. And it makes hydrogen cars more affordable by reducing the size of the fuel cell stack and the amount of hydrogen stored.

We began with a prototype conversion we call "PRIUS+" -- it's a stock 2004 Prius to which we've added batteries and grid-charging, as a way to bring attention to plug-in hybrids and encourage car makers to build them. (We've replaced the battery control system but haven't tinkered with the Hybrid Synergy Drive.) Our proof-of-concept uses lead-acid, which we'll be replacing soon with nickel-metal batteries, and our Southern California partners have installed an even better lithium pack in their car to get 120-180mpg + costs of electric power.)

We hope to persuade Toyota and other automakers to build PHEVs for a market we expect to expand as the Kyoto Protocols and parallel state and international greenhouse gas initiatives are phased in. We're demonstrating demand initially from early adopter individuals and institutions. We're working closely with other PHEV advocates to develop fleet orders from utilities, government and private companies. With our for-profit integration partners, we hope later this year to offer installed conversion "kits" to celebrities and entrepreneurs. We're looking first at cars that use Toyota's "Hybrid Synergy Drive" (Prius, Lexus, Highlander, Nissan), followed by Ford's Escape and other forthcoming hybrids.

We're also involved in advocacy and public policy, bringing together the growing attention given to this little-known technology (see our roundup at We're educating the large market of Green Californians who will pay extra for better cars. We're presenting the benefits of PHEVs, along with wind and solar power, as a coordinated response to two of our greatest challenges: global warming and energy security. We're exploring with public officials ways to provide incentives to auto makers to build PHEVs, and with government and industry suppliers the opportunities for California to become a design, production (perhaps) an assembly center for PHEVs.

We're a mostly-volunteer effort (including an open-source-style technology discussion group fully documenting our efforts), but we've received contributions from a well-known entrepreneur and a major foundation, with others to come.

Personally, I'm a startup person and environmentalist going way back ( After selling (marketplace for web development) in 2001, I began advising Rocky Mountain Institute/Amory Lovins' Hypercar Inc. My change in focus from that futuristic simulation of a fully-optimized ideal vehicle to more immediate solutions led to the launch of CalCars in 2002. My personal motivation for the project has evolved from general environmental/clean air goals, as well as energy independence, to seeing PHEVs as a keystone component of a strategy to address global warming both nationally and internationally. PHEVs charged from off-peak electricity from an evolving grid and from distributed photovoltaic and wind power, with the range extension engine powered by biofuels, point the way forward.

Felix Kramer
Founder California Cars Initiative
PRIUS+ PHEV Conversion Group
CalCars-PHEV Newsletter
PO Box 61222 Palo Alto, CA 94306
cell 650.520.5555 voice 650.599.9992

I guess I do not have a photo of the bi-fuel CNG propane truck from Baytech. I sent a couple good shots of the Propane hot rod though. Markus is seen standing in front of the vehicle with the president of Weststart, John Bozel behind the wheel. Laura Farkas behind the wheel and the rear shot of the machine.

Markus Wenzel from ECO drove from Canada to Palm Springs in his companies latest creation, a bi-fuel, propane or gasoline powered Chrysler 300C. Laura Farkas took the Mean and Clean machine for a test drive and declared that its performance on the cleaner burning propane was obviously superior than the performance on gasoline. The Hemi V-8 worked flawlessly on propane. The DMX (DaimlerChrysler) engineer that developed the shift points for the automatic transmission on the factory vehicle even test drove the vehicle and stated that ECO did a wonderful job making this vehicle run on propane. Propane is an exceptional energy that is locally sourced and packed full of energy. Any gasoline engine can run on propane with a fuel storage and delivery system upgrade. Diesel engines can be boosted with propane as well to dramatically increase horsepower.

The driver of the ride-n-drive escape is Martin Bowman, the fleet manager for the city of Riverside. Sometime this summer the City of Riverside will be having the grand opening of their new H2 station it will be at the same place where they had the CNG station opening that I attended with the GreenHummer that had the article posted on ET Marry Nickerson, Alt fuel marketing manager for Toyota has driven the plug in and liked it. eDrive's motivation is to get Toyota to do this at the factory and put them, (eDrive) out of business. plug-in hybrid

The Roush EV low speed battery electric utility vehicle
Roush West Coast Technical Center
11331 Valley View Street
Cypress, CA 90630
562-594-9035 fax
Thomas Garetson

401 S. 2nd Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Kevin Morrow

Tell my buddy Kevin that Tai says hi and that we already developed the 6.0L. Roush and ETEC will be selling a hydrogen ICE Chevy truck this year with the same engine that my Father and I developed for the Hummer H2. ETEC is housed inside of the APS downtown location where the hydrogen station is. They started out with just EV's but have moved on to hydrogen now.

Tai W. Robinson ::: Clean Fuel Specialist
President ::: Intergalactic Hydrogen
Correspondent ::: H2Nation Publishing, Inc.
9851 S. Borg Dr., Sandy, UT 84092
801.201.7370 :: cell
801.944.3704 :: fax