ESN Blog | 2011

Inside Indiana Business: Purdue Center Tackles Heavy Hybrid Roadblocks

Posted 3:13 PM by

This story was written and published by Inside Indiana Business on 12/15/11. To view the original article and listen to audio clips, click here.

"While hybrid cars are becoming a more common site on the nation's roads, hybrid commercial trucks and buses are seemingly scarce. Purdue University leaders say that's because experts have yet to clear the technical and engineering hurdles that surround the scaling up of hybrid technology for commercial duty vehicles. A new Purdue center has just received a $1 million grant to tackle those very challenges; leaders at the Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Center of Excellence (H3CoE) say it will provide the 'intellectual horsepower' to drive the development of hybrid commercial trucks and buses for the U.S. and beyond..."

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Thoughts on GM Volt’s Recent “Rapid Thermal Expansion” Incident… - John Waters, ESN Technical Advisory Council Member

Posted 2:42 PM by

This blog entry was written by John Waters, ESN Technical Advisory Council Member, on Rocky Mountain Institute's RMI Outlet blog. To view the original post, please visit the RMI Outlet website.


John Waters

President - Waters & Associates Consulting

November 30, 2011



General Motors is on its way to becoming the premier automaker in all technology related to electric vehicle safety and reliability. The recent reporting and follow-up investigation of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) event involving a Chevy Volt (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is the ideal catalyst for driving EV technology forward and our global understanding of safety, reliability, and cost in advanced vehicles.

It is reported that the battery of a GM Chevy Volt, damaged in a crash test, caught fire three weeks later and ignited several cars near the Volt (this all took place in a NHTSA facility). The good news here is that no human was hurt. The incident took place at a test facility where catastrophic situations are supposed to be generated. (For more on this topic see “Volt fire investigation — is it more than smoke?”)

Now, this single incident will motivate and drive some of the finest engineers in the world to become even more skilled and insightful in advancing the benefits lithium battery technology. From Newton to Edison to Dean Kamen, true inventors highlight their increased understanding of physical laws through “mistakes” as opposed to successes.

If you asked Dean Kamen (one of the greatest living inventors) to name an individual who knows more than most of the causes of “rapid thermal expansion” of lithium batteries, he would most likely mention my name. I arrived at Dean’s offices one day several years ago, greeted by three fire trucks, and smelled the familiar fragrance of burned lithium batteries wafting through the air.

Without disclosing the details, I can confidently state that the following six months of root cause failure investigation of my team’s lithium batteries taught me more about the behavior and control of high energy lithium-ion battery packs than all the previous years of robust failure testing and analysis on the battery systems.

The Chevy Volt incident will drive the highly competent engineers and scientists at GM to discover and quantify the peripheral behavior mechanisms of high-energy battery packs. These discoveries are not ones to avoid but to embrace as they will provide substantial value for GM and propel it to a global leadership position.

As my friend (Rocky Mountain Institute chief scientist) Amory Lovins once encouraged me in an email, “Pioneers get the arrows, settlers get the land.”

GM’s leadership in putting thousands of Chevy Volts on the road—all with no reported incidents—requires the company to embrace the unknown, resolve the failure modes, and capture market share with its robust understanding and intellectual property that will be gained by leading discovery. This is our classic American heritage and we should be championing our industrious companies forward in their global leadership positions.

Those who want to promote a “sky is falling” attitude on advanced automotive technology should break out their abacuses and go for it (but be careful of pinching your fingers with the deadly motions of those beads!). Does anyone want to debate the safety and reliability of sitting on top of 20-gallon gasoline reservoir, which has an energy density 65 times greater than lithium batteries?

The loss of the space shuttle Columbia was a historical event for our country — resulting in the loss of human lives. The failure was attributed to a loose piece of foam insulation, the size of a small briefcase, which damaged the shuttle's thermal protection system.

Similar to NASA’s focus and leadership after this horrendous event, GM has the opportunity to show the world how safe and reliable lithium battery systems can be and create the intellectual property that will propel them to a global leadership position and the planet’s authority on advanced automotive technology.


John Waters, an entrepreneurial and business development professional, is president of Waters & Associates Consulting. He is an electric vehicle pioneer, having led development and production for General Motors of battery packs for the company's first electric cars, the EV1 and Electric S-10. At Delphi Corp., he launched a lithium battery business and was responsible for the design, testing and production of multiple lithium battery products, including battery packs for the Segway. He launched Bright Automotive in 2008 after serving as Vice President of Transportation at Rocky Mountain Institute, a role in which he provided energy strategy for Fortune 100 companies including Alcoa, Ford and Wal-Mart.

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Posted 1:27 PM by


Three GE WattStationTM Wall Mount Charging Stations Now Available at Airport

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.—November 23, 2011—Electric vehicle (EV) drivers using the Indianapolis International Airport now have a convenient way to ensure a fully charged ride home, with the installation of three new GE Energy (NYSE: GE) EV charging stations in the airport parking garage.

Beginning today, the GE WattStationTM Wall Mount EV charging stations can be used at no cost to travelers who use the airport’s valet parking services. By managing the GE EV charging stations through its valet service, the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) and Parking Solutions for Airports and Global Parking System Inc. can rotate the charging of parked EVs, ensuring the service is available to any number of electric vehicles.

“EV charging services provide more options for our travelers while also supporting our broader commitment to being a good neighbor responsive to the needs of our community,” said John D. Clark III, executive director and CEO of the IAA. “Engaging in sustainability practices that add value to our customers, our community and our business model is a great way to make good on that commitment.”

An ongoing collaboration between Purdue University and GE Energy is at the heart of the new airport charging option. Purdue acquired the units with funding from Energy Systems Network through a grant from the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

“It’s exciting to see GE’s easy-to-use WattStation in a large, busy setting like the Indianapolis International Airport,” said Luis Ramírez, CEO of GE Energy Industrial Solutions. “Installing our WattStations at transportation hubs like airports provides solutions for EV drivers and brings us one step closer to the development of a comprehensive, sustainable EV infrastructure.”

Eric Dietz, associate professor of computer and information technology and director of Purdue’s Homeland Security Institute, said, “Purdue is pleased to work with IAA and GE Energy on this initiative to promote clean, renewable energy, produced in the United States. Purdue’s faculty and students will collect data from the airport chargers to use in electric vehicle and smart grid research.”

The airport’s valet services are available to customers on the curbside of the departures level, as well as on the third floor of the parking garage. The GE EV charging stations will be installed near the valet parking area on the third floor of the airport parking garage. Page 2 of 3 GE November 23, 2011

Additional sustainability initiatives at the airport include IAA’s recent completion of relighting projects in its parking garage and at the Indianapolis Maintenance Center that produce combined yearly savings of more than $250,000 and annually reduce CO2 emissions by 5,233 metric tons, equivalent to removing more than 1,000 gasoline-powered cars from the city’s roads each year.

IAA also has announced plans to develop one of the largest airport-based solar farms in North America, which will annually produce more than 15 million kilowatt hours of power, enough to meet the electrical energy needs of more than 1,200 average American homes for a year. The renewable power it generates will prevent approximately 10,700 tons of CO2 from being released into the environment each year, roughly equivalent to removing 2,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road annually.

Earlier this month, the airport was awarded LEED® certification for the Midfield Terminal complex and is the only airport in the United States to achieve the certification for an entire airport campus.

For more information about the GE WattStation, visit our Twitter pages at @GE_WattStation and @GE_IndSolutions and Facebook page at GE Energy Industrial Solutions.

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at

GE also serves the energy sector by providing technology and service solutions that are based on a commitment to quality and innovation. The company continues to invest in new technology solutions and grow through strategic acquisitions to strengthen its local presence and better serve customers around the world. The businesses that comprise GE Energy—GE Power & Water, GE Energy Management and GE Oil & Gas—work together with more than 100,000 global employees and 2010 revenues of $38 billion, to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; as well as other alternative fuels and new grid modernization technologies to meet 21st century energy needs.

About the Authority

The Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) owns and operates Indiana’s largest airport system. In addition to Indianapolis International Airport (IND), its facilities include the Downtown Heliport, Eagle Creek Airpark, Hendricks County Airport, Indianapolis Regional Airport and Metropolitan Airport. IND has received several prestigious awards recognizing it as a leader within its class. It was named the 2010 best North American airport by J.D. Power and Associates and best airport in North America by Airports Council International as part of its annual Airport Service Quality awards for performance excellence. IND is the first airport in the U.S. to win LEED® certification for an entire terminal campus, and the airport has won recognition for excellent customer service, concessions programs, and art and architecture. Page 3 of 3 GE November 23, 2011

IND’s economic impact in Central Indiana is more than $3.3 billion annually, and about 10,000 people work at the airport each day. With some of the lowest fares in the United States, IND serves more than 7 million business and leisure travelers each year and averages 140 daily nonstop flights to 34 destinations. Home of the world's second-largest FedEx Express operation and the nation’s eighth-largest cargo facility, IND is committed to becoming the airport system of choice for both passenger and cargo service. For more information, visit IND’s Facebook page at Indianapolis International Airport and Twitter page at @INDairport.

About Energy Systems Network and Project Plug-IN

Energy Systems Network (ESN) is a not-for-profit, industry-driven economic initiative focused on the development of Indiana's "clean tech" sector. ESN provides project development and coordination for joint ventures and cooperative partnerships between network members who are seeking to bring new energy technologies, products or applications to market. Project Plug-IN, one of ESN's initiatives, is a commercial scale pilot of plug-in electric vehicles and smart grid technology working together to demonstrate an energy efficient transportation system solution. ESN and Project Plug-IN received U.S. Department of Energy grant funding through the Indiana Office of Energy Development (IOED) for the deployment of electric vehicles and charging stations. By the spring of 2012, the grant funding will have facilitated the deployment of more than 125 plug-in vehicles and nearly 200 charging stations throughout the State of Indiana. For more information, visit and


For additional information, please contact:

Ellen Dowell

GE Energy

Industrial Solutions

p: 860-793-5958



Carlo Bertolini

Indianapolis Airport Authority

P: 317-487-5025




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American Council on Renewable Energy's Annual Phase II Policy Forum - December 6-7, 2011

Posted 4:39 PM by

ACORE’s annual Phase II Policy Forum has never been more important. With an industry whose growth and economic potential is being called into question, Phase II will be a critical meeting geared to formulate an over-arching strategy for the continued success and support of the industry. The forum will explore issues of national and energy security, economic development, capital raising, and jobs for the many under and unemployed Americans. The thought leaders from the global stage will join leaders from the national and state level in Washington DC to assess the status of renewable energy policy today, the range of policy options available, and help to advise on a best case policy framework for 2012 and beyond. Your attendance is critical to formulating a well-rounded energy policy for America’s future.

For more information and to register online, visit

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Clean Energy Trust Accepting Applications for Clean Energy Challenge thru December 5th

Posted 4:53 PM by

The Clean Energy Trust administers an annual business competition for early stage cleantech companies in the Midwest region. Last year the Challenge awarded $140,000 to four promising Midwestern clean energy start-ups. This year, CET is excited to announce a new program: the Clean Energy Student Challenge. The Student Challenge is part of a new national program led by the US Department of Energy. CET will be the Midwest Regional Administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Creation Competition for University Students. This provides an additional $100,000 grand prize for a student-run company.

CET is looking for promising early stage and student-run start-ups to apply for the Challenge. The application deadline is December 5, 2011 in order to participate in the competition on March 1, 2012 in Chicago. A total of 28 teams will be selected to compete for $250,000 in prizes. Eligible technologies include renewables, water, energy conservation and efficiency, building materials, energy storage, smart grid, energy IT, energy, next generation transportation, and renewable fuels.

For eligibility criteria for both the early stage start-ups and student-run start-ups, as well as to submit an application, please visit



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Posted 3:08 PM by

“Motorsports 2.0” event brings racing, automotive and energy systems experts together to lay groundwork for electric vehicle series

(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., October 20, 2011) Auto racing is about the thrill of competition, about who can coax the best performance out of finely-tuned race machines. A proposed new racing series aims to complement internal combustion engine racing traditions with the advanced technologies quickly emerging in electric vehicles (EVs). With emerging battery technology, EVs can outperform traditional cars in torque, speed and handling - on the track or on the highway.

In early October, the Energy Systems Network (ESN) brought together an ‘all-star’ collection of motorsports teams, sanctioning bodies, engineering and design firms, Fortune 500 sponsors and EV pioneers to explore an electric vehicle (EV) racing series that could take the track within the next three years. The “Motorsports 2.0” EV Racing Design Summit was hosted by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and sponsored by Duke Energy, Siemens, Eaton Corporation, Remy International, and Verizon.

Over the course of three days, the group participated in a series of brainstorming and working sessions aimed at several key goals: creating specifications for an all-electric record-setting racecar, developing design plans for the technical infrastructure required to support fully electric race vehicles, and drafting preliminary business and marketing plans for the EV racing series.

The EV racing initiative is spearheaded by ESN, the non-profit, industry-driven initiative focused on clean technologies and energy innovation. ESN also manages Project Plug-IN, among the nation’s largest deployment projects for plug-in electric vehicles and ‘smart grid’ technologies based in Central Indiana. According to ESN CEO Paul Mitchell, the racing series serves a complementary purpose in speeding deployment of EVs.

“Race fans are obviously enthusiasts and early adopters of the latest automotive technologies,” Mitchell said.

John Waters, President of Waters & Associates, who assisted in facilitating and coordinating the event, and a previous member of the General Motors EV1 team in Indiana agreed, “There’s no better way to promote the unique capabilities of emerging electric automotive technology than by demonstrating EV power and durability on the race track. It’s not about hugging trees but embracing speed and performance.”

EV racing will also serve a valuable purpose in developing and validating new technologies for the emerging electric vehicle sector. A symbiotic relationship has long existed between motorsports and the automotive industry, but has become less relevant in recent years.

In addition to vehicle design, the Motorsports 2.0 Summit also focused on the infrastructure needed for EV racing. “EV motorsports will foster innovation in vehicle technology, but it will also provide a development platform and proving ground for future EV charging technologies,” said Mike Rowand of Duke Energy. “The charging systems that power electric vehicles on the race track may ultimately power consumer vehicles.”

Beyond this potential role as a high-performance R&D lab, backers believe that an EV racing series would promote the vehicles to a wider audience, creating a ‘pull through’ market.

“Racing fans love competition – whether its IndyCar, American LeMans Series, or go-karts,” said Scot Elkins, COO of the American LeMans Series and the International Motor Sports Association, and a participant at Motorsports 2.0.  “If they see electric vehicles putting on a good race, they’ll gravitate to it, learn all about the cars – and become consumers and enthusiasts.”

The EV racing partnership will combine expertise across electric propulsion, infrastructure, renewable energy, IT, and motorsports. Within a two-and-a-half year timeframe, it will focus on aligning the strategic technology development needs of the automotive, clean energy and IT industries with the future of racing, while also attracting a new generation of spectators and sponsors with an exciting and carbon-free racing experience.

Despite the aggressive timeline, participants at the Motorsports 2.0 Summit are optimistic about the prospects for the series.

“This Summit used a world-class process to jump-start an EV series,” said Richard Parry-Jones, former Chief Technical Officer of Ford Motor Company and head of the UK Automotive Council.  “It brought all the right people together – we accomplished more in three days than most efforts like this do in a year.”

“Right now, we’re using a 20th century fuel for a sport with 21st century ambitions,” added Chelsea Sexton, electric vehicle advocate made famous in the movie, “Who Killed the Electric Car.” “Electrified motorsports will happen – the only questions are when and how.”

Participants in the Motorsports 2.0 EV Racing Design Summit included IndyCar, American LeMans, Bright Automotive, CCS Services, the Art Center College of Design, Delphi, Dallara, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Fuzion Training, Remy International, Duke Energy, Google, Tabu Design, Siemens Energy, Verizon Wireless, USAC Racing, Eaton Corporation, Penske Technology, Ball State University Center for Media Design, RPJ Consulting, , Ice Miller, Living City Block, HVM Racing, Stanford University, Waters & Associates and the Lightning Rod Foundation.

These and other partners are collaborating on a multi-phased approach, starting at the Motorsports 2.0 Design Summit. Discussions have continued since the Summit on October 4-6, focusing on continued technical and business planning and the logistics of staging EV racing demonstrations within the next year, towards the ultimate goal of launching a full-fledged EV racing series in the next 2-3 years.

“It’s gratifying to see such engagement and enthusiasm across the racing and energy ‘ecosystems’ for this project, kicking off the process here at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Mitchell noted. 

“Indianapolis is building a reputation as the electric car capitol of the U.S., and we’re already the racing capitol of the world,” he finished. “It makes perfect sense to bring the two together as a means to advance and demonstrate the performance of these cars, which is improving by leaps and bounds.”

About Energy Systems Network: The Energy Systems Network (ESN) is an initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. It is a non-profit industry-driven economic organization focused on the development of the energy technology “cleantech” sector. ESN provides project development and coordination for joint ventures and cooperative partnerships between network members to bring new energy technologies to market. ESN partners include a wide range of Fortune 500 firms, emerging technology companies, and research and educational institutions with expertise in advanced technology vehicles, distributed power generation, advanced biofuels, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. 


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Posted 9:26 PM by



On the heels of the 7,000th delivery in the United States, Nissan North America Inc. is expanding availability of Nissan LEAF, the world’s first and only all-electric car for the mass market.

Orders for the 2012 Nissan LEAF begin today in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York. Deliveries of the LEAF, enriched for the 2012 model year with additional standard equipment including quick charging and cold-weather features, will take place in these key markets by December.

“Consumers have spoken, and it’s clear that they are looking for a car that produces zero emissions and uses no gas,” said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, Nissan North America. “We are seeing tremendous consumer interest in the Nissan LEAF in these new markets, particularly in the New York metropolitan area.”

A prioritized ordering phase begins today for individuals with existing reservations in these new markets. On Oct. 3, Nissan will open new reservations and orders to the general public. Nissan will expand into additional new markets as the year continues. By the end of the year, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island will be added as markets where the Nissan LEAF will be available for order.

With thousands Nissan LEAF drivers and enthusiasts actively discussing their experiences in online forums and in Nissan social media communities, Nissan also is announcing the launch of the “Go Electric” Owner’s Blog. This new online destination,, will feature weekly content from 14 Nissan LEAF owners who will share personal experiences of owning a 100-percent electric vehicle. Nissan aims for the site to be a gathering place for potential and current Nissan LEAF owners to discuss electric vehicle ownership.

About Nissan Americas

In the Americas, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and was recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 and 2011. More information on Nissan in North America, the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at

About Nissan

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second largest Japanese automotive company by volume, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan and is an integral pillar of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 150,000 employees globally, Nissan provided customers with more than 4 million vehicles in 2010. With a strong commitment to developing exciting and innovative products for all, Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of fuel-efficient and low-emissions vehicles under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. A pioneer in zero emission mobility, Nissan made history with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF, the first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and winner of numerous international accolades including the prestigious 2011 European Car of the Year award. For more information on our products, services and commitment to Sustainable Mobility, visit our website at

# # #
Katherine Zachary
Nissan Americas
Tel #: (615) 725-1447
Additional information and news from Nissan is available at

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Nissan LEAF "drive electric tour" stops in Indianapolis

Posted 8:49 PM by

The Nissan LEAF™ "drive electric tour" makes a pit stop in Indianapolis on September 2-4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The new Nissan LEAF™ is the first and only mass-produced, 100% electric, zero gas, no tailpipe vehicle. The "drive electric tour" sponsored by the 100% electric Nissan LEAF™ will provide consumers the opportunity to learn about the car, its technology, its features and to actually take it for a test-drive (registration available but not required to test drive).

To schedule a drive time, visit their website at


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ESN Board Chairman Letter to the Editor: 'Cummins helps power Indiana's economy'

Posted 1:36 PM by

ESN's Board Chairman, Tom Snyder (President of Ivy Tech Community College) wrote a letter to the editor at the Indianapolis Star this week praising the efforts of ESN parter Cummins, Inc. Take a look at his letter below, or view it on the Indy Star's website.


"It may be a function of Hoosier modesty, or the old adage that admiration and familiarity are strangers, but it often takes an outsider's perspective to remind us about what's truly exceptional in our everyday lives. I was struck by this feeling leafing through Fortune magazine's latest annual Fortune 500 list.

At No. 186 was Cummins, the Columbus-based engine-maker. That's no surprise; Most of us are familiar with Cummins, and have some idea of its size and recent success. We regard Cummins as a valued partner in our effort at Ivy Tech Community College, as well as other organizations I'm involved with, like the Energy Systems Network and Conexus Indiana.

But as I read further, I was amazed by how this Indiana manufacturing stalwart stacks up against its peers..."

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Chinese vehicle and technology manufacturer BYD brings electric bus and e6 vehicle to Clean Cities Stakeholder Summit

Posted 3:12 PM by

In November 2010, ESN partner Duke Energy Corporation and Chinese vehicle and technology manufacturer BYD signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on technologies for energy storage, electric transportation and smart grid applications as well as to explore further joint business development opportunities.

Since that time, BYD has also discussed with ESN the opportunity to deploy BYD's electric buses and e6 passenger vehicles in the US. BYD recently brought the two vehicles to the 2011 Clean Cities Stakeholder Summit in Indianapolis for the Day at the Track. Take a look at some of the pictures of BYD's vehicles in the gallery below. For more information on the BYD vehicles, visit their website at

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We're in the Fast Lane of the Electric Vehicle Movement - Editorial by Paul Mitchell

Posted 3:33 AM by

On May 6th, President Obama visited Indianapolis and spoke at Allison Transmission, which is investing nearly $150 million in private capital and federal grants to expand its hybrid transmission line, creating 250 new jobs in the process.

President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and senior Department of Energy officials have come to the Hoosier State repeatedly to emphasize the administration’s clean technology agenda, for a simple reason – it’s in their interests to celebrate success, and Indiana is at the vanguard of this movement.

In electric vehicles (EVs) in particular, the state’s assets are enviable. Manufacturers like THINK, Bright Automotive, and Navistar, major hybrid component producers like Allison, Cummins, and Remy, advanced battery developers like EnerDel, automotive electronics leaders like Delphi…the list goes on. 

Through Central Indiana’s Project Plug-IN initiative, we’re also on the cutting-edge of deploying these vehicles.  This effort has already placed 100+ EVs with commuters and in fleet operations along with charging infrastructure; working with local utilities and other partners, we’re gathering data from these vehicles that will help hasten deployment in other communities.

Governor Mitch Daniels has also been a vocal proponent of the EV industry as a growing force in Indiana’s economy. His economic development team has been aggressive in supporting the growth of EV companies and suppliers, and the State of Indiana was the first customer for EVs in its fleets through Project Plug-IN. Support for EVs is a bipartisan proposition, as it should be: These advanced technology vehicles represent many of our shared interests, as Hoosiers and Americans. From an economic standpoint, the sector is a source of innovation and new jobs – high-tech engineering and manufacturing positions that are more resistant to outsourcing and offshoring.

Vehicle electrification also addresses a major national security issue, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and an environmental one, cutting a major source of carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

For consumers, EVs represent the wave of the future. We love our cars, and EVs are quickly evolving to meet our needs and wants as drivers. As hybrid and plug-in technologies have advanced, the size and performance of the vehicles have changed – just compare the first-generation Toyota Prius to the current third-generation model in terms of legroom, cargo space and power. Options are multiplying, as most major automakers are offering hybrid or fully-electric models. For those who don’t want to make any sacrifice in terms of luxury, BMW recently announced that a plug-in hybrid 5 Series will be available by 2013.

Some critics say that the EV market is being propped up by government subsidies, a product of federal rebates and tax credits that distort the natural forces of supply and demand. As an enthusiast of free markets, I’m sympathetic to this argument but believe it only tells one side of the story.

In fact, there are few industries as heavily supported by the federal government as the oil and gas sector. Oil subsidies cost U.S. taxpayers more than $4 billion a year – significantly more than the tax breaks and grants designed to put more EVs on our highways. But while the EV industry is relatively new, the oil industry has employed armies of lobbyists for decades with the single-minded purpose of cementing their various loopholes and allowances into the tax code. Singling out public sector incentives for electric vehicles ignores the federal largess that has flowed to oil and gas companies for generations.

It would be a principled position to argue for an end to all federal subsidies for transportation platforms – fossil fuels and electric vehicles alike, creating an even playing field. It’s estimated that stripping all government subsidies from the oil and gas industries would cause the price of a gallon of gasoline to soar to at least $10 a gallon. Under this scenario, electric cars would clearly be competitive in the marketplace, paying for themselves out of the avoided fuel costs.   

Indiana’s – and the nation’s – opportunity is to build an industry ecosystem that can thrive with or without government support, where companies across the electric vehicle and alternative energy supply chain can collaborate to advance new technologies and breakthroughs to make these cars more affordable and more practical for the average American commuter.

The Energy Systems Network is working to make this vision a reality – both to encourage new jobs and investment for the Hoosier economy and to lead the nation towards a future of energy independence and cleaner, less costly commutes.

Mr. Mitchell is President & CEO of the Energy Systems Network, an Indiana-based initiative focused on clean technology development. He previously served as Policy Director to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

You can view this letter to the editor as printed in the Indianapolis Star today by visiting

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Emerging Technology Day Hosts One of Nation's Largest EV Rallies

Posted 10:18 AM by

On May 7th, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Emerging Technology Day hosted over 70 plug-in electric vehicles at the track during the EV Rally.

Dominated by 28 THINK City EV's (predominately provided through ESN's Project Plug-IN) and about 20 Chevy Volts that had been test driven all day, plug-in vehicle owners brought their cars to the track to take a couple laps around the IMS oval.

Plug-in vehicles lined up in one of the on-site parking lots and by late afternoon, all PEV owners joined each other to prepare for their parade laps.


Many of the THINK City EVs that participated in the rally were purchased by participants in ESN's Project Plug-IN EV deployment initiative, which was supported by grant funding provided through the State of Indiana and the Indiana Office of Energy Development. Many of the PEV owners got to look at different vehicles, some coming as far away as Florida and South Carolina, to get an idea of what other PEV products are out there - the popular ones and the less traditional ones.


Everyone got to pause at the "yard of bricks" for a group photo, which can be seen on the IMS Flickr page here. Overall, being part of the EV Rally was a great opportunity for PEV owners to talk to each other about their vehicles and the new technology that made them possible, while turning heads at their quiet laps around the IMS track in the process.

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Obama: I want new breakthroughs in energy technology in Indiana

Posted 10:41 AM by

President Obama: I want new breakthroughs in energy technology in Indiana

President Obama visited Indiana for the fifth time in his presidency today at Allison Transmission, an ESN partner, to applaud their efforts in being a leader in hybrid transmissions, thanks in part to a $62.8 million federal grant.

In addition to supporting Allison's energy efficient transmission systems, Obama also took the opportunity to propose a $7,500 tax rebate for consumers who purchase an electric vehicle. He explained that this technology is the future of the nation, and the US needs to invest in it now despite the economic downturn of recent years.

Obama touted his national energy plan by emphasizing the importance of continuing clean tech innovations in the U.S. and pushing for more research and development to become leaders in the field. "I don't want the new breakthrough technologies and the new manufacturing taking place in China and India. I want all those new jobs right here in Indiana, right here in the United States of America, with American workers, American know-how, American ingenuity," he said.

The President continued to praise Allison and the state of Indiana by stating, "...America's economy is always going to rely on outstanding manufacturing, where we make stuff -- where we're not just buying stuff overseas, but we're making stuff here, and we're selling it to somebody else. And that's what Allison is all about."

The following articles are available online with additional coverage of President Obama's visit to Indianapolis:

Indianapolis Star

Inside INdiana Business

Indiana Business Journal

White House release 


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Obama to Discuss Energy in Indiana - Inside INdiana Business

Posted 6:14 AM by

Obama to Discuss Energy in Indiana - Inside INdiana Business Report

Hybrid vehicle production in Indiana will be a key focus of President Barack Obama's visit to the state today. The president will be touring Allison Transmission in Indianapolis and will speak about U.S. energy policy. The company is currently investing more than $130 million to create a facility to produce drive systems for hybrid trucks.

ESN Board Chairman Tom Snyder (President of Ivy Tech Community College) will be in attendance.

View the complete press release and article here.

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May 7th is Emerging Technology Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

Posted 10:24 AM by

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is kicking off its month-long celebration leading up to the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 on May 7th with the first annual Emerging Technology Day.
Some of the best, brightest young minds in America will display innovative renewable technologies for the automotive industry at the Emerging Tech Day. The event will feature exhibition competition at IMS by alternative-power vehicles in the Formula Hybrid and American Solar Challenge series and the Purdue evGrandPrix.

Any plug-in vehicle owner won't want to miss the EV Rally, where you can take your plug-in electric vehicle for a drive around the legendary track.

Admission is free and the gates are open to the public starting at 12 noon. For more information, visit the IMS website.


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INside Indiana Business interviews THINK on benefits of EVs while gas prices soar

Posted 11:27 AM by


Gerry Dick interviews THINK spokesman Brendan Prebo to discuss how the EV manufacturer plans to capitalize on high gas prices and demonstrate the viability of all-electric vehicles.



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Hoosiers looking for relief from high gas prices - WTHR

Posted 6:23 AM by

Hoosiers looking for relief from high gas prices - WTHR report
April 6, 2011

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Welcome to Energy Systems Network's New Website!

Posted 12:15 PM by

Today we launch ESN's new corporate website, which includes industry news, ESN related events and project information, as well as other helpful resources. Keep up to date on our blog, follow us on Twitter, and visit often to learn more about all of ESN's commercialization projects and how all our partner organizations are doing their part to help make Indiana a hub for energy innovation.

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