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.