Plug-in Car Conversion Startups Spared by Cali Regulators, For Now

PHEV conversion companies, which turn hybrid vehicles like the Prius into plug-ins, snagged a big win in Sacramento on Friday. The California Air Resources Board, which had been considering new rules for emissions tests and warranties on aftermarket conversions, decided to separate regulations for the emerging industry from a larger package of emissions testing requirements. Representatives of startups like EDrive Systems, OEMTek, and Plug-In Conversions Corp. now have several weeks to put together an alternate set of rules for the board to consider.
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Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Plug-In Cars

The presidential and vice presidential candidates have been laying out their energy policies at their respective party’s conventions over the past two weeks, but they’ve largely left out the details in acceptance speeches. So Calcars.org, the group following all things plug-in-vehicle-related, has compiled the candidates’ positions on, what else, plug-ins. Obama’s stance is clearly more aggressive than McCain’s when it comes to tax incentives, federal purchases and loans for carmakers, though the group says, regardless of which candidate is elected, “plug-in hybrids will have an advocate in the White House.”

Here’s Calcars.org’s lineup:

Obama:

  • $7,000 consumer tax credit for purchase of new plug-in cars
  • Some level of tax credits for conversions of cars
  • $4 billion in loans and tax credits to carmakers for factory retooling
  • White House fleet all-plug-in within a year (as security permits)
  • 50 percent of cars purchased for the federal fleet will be plug-in by 2012
  • 1 million plug-in cars on our roads by 2015
  • Raise fleet fuel economy 4 percent per year

McCain:

  • $5,000 consumer tax credit for purchase of new “zero-carbon vehicles”; near-zero PHEVs would get a percentage of that level
  • $300 million prize for advanced battery technology that delivers a 70 percent improvement in batteries to get to 30 per cent of their current cost
  • Specific support for the Chevy Volt: “the future of America and the world.”

FCC votes to ease cable-franchise rules

Scoring a win after a tough week, FCC chairman Kevin Martin on Wednesday pushed through a bunch of rules designed to make it easier for telephone companies to offer video services. The 3-2 party line vote was expected, as was the vociferous opposition from the minority Democrat members. Up next: expect court battles to decide whether the rules (which include a 90-day deadline for local governments to grant franchises, and no requirements to “build out” services to all parts of a geographical region) are actually enforceable, since the FCC’s jurisdiction in the cable arena is legally sketchy, according to some in the game.