Google’s philanthropy arm will begin pushing an environmentalist’s dream car: a hybrid of ethanol, electricity and gasoline that will get more than 100 miles per gallon of gas.
That’s double what the popular Prius hybrid gets now, and it comes at a time when Prius owners are starting to gripe they want more. Mainstream hybrids such as the Prius have been inhibited by battery technology and the lack of affordable fuels like ethanol.
The news is carried in a notable story by the NYT today (reg required), which carries other details of Google’s for-profit philanthropy arm, including its iconoclastic leader Larry Brilliant, pictured here. The details about the car are sketchy, limited to just a few paragraphs:
According to people briefed on the program, the organization, called Google.org, plans to develop an ultra-fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity and gasoline.
The philanthropy is consulting with hybrid-engine scientists and automakers, and has arranged for the purchase of a small fleet of cars with plans to convert the engines so that their gas mileage exceeds 100 miles per gallon. The goal of the project is to reduce dependence on oil while alleviating the effects of global warming…It could, for example, form a company to sell the converted cars, finance that company in partnership with venture capitalists, and even hire a lobbyist to pressure Congress to pass legislation granting a tax credit to consumers who buy the cars.
We have highlighted the above phrase in bold because you can almost put 1+1+1 together and figure out who the players are going to be: Last week, we ran a story about how Felix Kramer, head of CalCars and designer of a 100+ mpg car, Google philanthropy exec Aimée Christensen, and John Doerr, of venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (& backer of Google) were part of a power-group from Silicon Valley that went up to Sacramento and made a difference on the recent California anti-global warming bill, AB32. Felix submitted a contribution last week to VentureBeat here, as did John Doerr.
(Editor’s note: We were taken aback by the comments on John’s column; it suggests the younger generation actually doesn’t care about global warming. One consolation, however, is that John’s piece has gotten by far the most page views among contributors so far, so at least people are reading).
So this morning, after seeing the news in the NYT, we contacted Felix, who said he was ecstatic that Google was supporting such a project but that he couldn’t comment further — ok, so we’re counting him in this one ;)
We also reached out to Aimee, but she has yet to respond. We’ve emailed John Doerr. We’ll update as responses come in.