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Andy Grove Calls for 10 Million Plug-Ins In 4 Years

Andy Grove, the former chairman of Intel turned plug-in vehicle advocate, set a goal at a conference on Tuesday that the U.S. should have 10 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the roads in four years. Those plug-ins should be converted from vehicles with poor mileage like SUVs, pickups and minivans. Grove threw down the gauntlet before the crowd at the first annual Plug-In 2008 conference. He said that a multi-industry taskforce made up by utilities, auto makers, high-tech companies and academia could drive that goal and present the plan to the next U.S. president on Jan. 21, 2009. Watch our video clip of the lunchtime speech:

At the age of 71, Grove has become an electric vehicle advocate, often speaking, writing and teaching on the subject. He penned a recent article in The American, and his writing has been featured in various other media outlets as well. Grove will also teach a class at Stanford next fall on how to make electric vehicles work.

At Plug-In 2008, Grove said that a task force could implement his goal by collaborating and competing in the way companies that developed the Internet did. Grove has previously compared the early market for plug-in conversions to the early PC hobbyist movement.

Grove did note a promising collaboration in his speech: As announced on Monday, GM, along with over 30 utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute will work together to promote plug-ins. Grove said if companies in the industry embraced both open-source and standardized technology, the industry for converting plug-in vehicles could flourish.

At the same time, Grove did admit that converting that many pickups, vans and SUVs to plug-in vehicles in just four years is “borderline not doable.” But he says he likes the challenge, and if it was easy it wouldn’t be interesting. Beyond learning from the development of the Internet, Grove also said that public policy could aid the plan by redeploying tax incentives and giving away electricity for free to converted plug-ins.

8 Responses to “Andy Grove Calls for 10 Million Plug-Ins In 4 Years”

  1. Bob Halley

    I see repeated expressions of concern regarding the pollution put forth by the coal-burning powerplants, that will supply the electricity to re-charge the battery packs in the growing fleet of PHEV’s (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles). It is very likely that a large percentage of this re-charging activity will take place at night, when the demands on the electricity generating capacity of our country is at it’s lowest. This behavior of “slack period” re-charging could be encouraged by discounted rates during this period, and premium charges during peak hours of demand. If most of the PHEV re-charging is done at the right time of day(actually, the right time of night, while our demand for electricity is at its minimum), perhaps the grid could be “smartened up” such that the plants that contribute less pollution could supply the power. I would be interested to see any studies that have been done showing the available power in low-demand periods from non-polluting (or at least the lowest polluting) generation facilities, compared to the projected demand for re-charging of PHEV’s. In other words, how many could we re-charge, on a daily (actually nightly) basis, without burning polluting fuels in the generating plants, and, at what rate will clean generating plants be added to our generating capacity, thereby giving us the capability to re-charge more PHEV’s, without the carbon penalty of the polluting infrastructure that currently dominates.

  2. Hopefully the 30+ utilities involved will simultaneously convert the power grids (to which these 10 mil plug-in vehicles will plug up to charge) to draw power from sustainable sources and not coal. Otherwise, would 10 mil SUVs off the road reduce the bottom line for CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere, if all those 10 million are plugged up to a coal-burning power source in order to charge their batteries?