Steve W. (aka H2Revolutionary) and I have been trading a series of lengthy emails for the past couple of weeks or so. I thought it was time to share some Steve’s thoughts about the future goal of getting hydrogen conversion kits for ICE vehicles inside all of the Pep Boys stores nationwide.
My apologies first to Steve W. for cutting down some of his long, eloquent and thoughtful emails into the bare essential excerpts in order to fit into the space in this blog and then breaking it over two days.
Steve W.: “The Pep Boys Corporation, which maintains its main headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but has automotive service centers located all throughout the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, is the only automotive service center chain at the present time that could put a hydrogen I.C.E. economy in place all throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico in a very rapid period of time.
Back in the spring of 2004 I caught an exciting episode of Scientific American Frontiers on PBS called “Future Car,” which brought to my attention the powerful potential of hydrogen as the ultimate means by which cars of the future will be powered.
After seeing the program I then got in touch with Pep Boys Corporation, which has its headquarters here in Philadelphia, to see if by chance they were set up to alter cars to run on hydrogen via the hydrogen I.C.E. method … then got a call back from one of Pep Boys’ executives, it might’ve been Larry Stevenson, who was Pep Boys CEO at that time … In any event, he told me Pep Boys’ service centers were not offering the service at that time, but he said he liked the idea and would run it through the Pep Boys ‘think tank.’
Of the small hydrogen start-up companies I researched, I finally settled on Intergalactic Hydrogen (based in Utah) and headed up by the father & son team of Fred & Tai Robinson as holding the most credibility. For not long before, they had demonstrated a Hummer they had converted to run on hydrogen for Arnold Schwarzenegger who was running for governor of California at that time. I even put together a very basic business plan.
The essence of this business plan is simply to establish a mutual relationship between the Pep Boys Corporation and Intergalactic Hydrogen. There is nothing complicated or non-implementable about this business plan whatsoever.
What we need is a start-up hydrogen technology company that’s specifically set-up to take raw ideas and turn them into finished products, that then can be mass-marketed in a very uniform sort of way. They don’t necessarily have to be a well-established company such as Ballard Power or Energy Conversion Devices just so long as they can prove to Pep Boys itself what they have is good and solid. And if they can do this, Pep Boys, through its mass-marketing of their goods and services, can give them the credibility they need. For I feel the general consensus is, if Pep Boys is selling it, it must be okay.
I see that T. Boone Pickens is appearing all over the place promoting CNG as the new savior, while the more I learn about natural gas the scarier it gets. If the hydrogen economy could be launched in a big way in a hurry all this could be avoided. And I couldn’t even begin to suggest how this could be possible without Pep Boys and the tremendous potential I feel it holds being put front and center on the table.
However, that said, the hydrogen package it would mass-market would have to be pretty solid. As in, we will convert your car to run on hydrogen at a cost of $900 or less and we will warranty our work for a period of at least 10 years backed up by our skilled, trained mechanics, we will provide hydrogen fuel at low cost at all our automotive service centers throughout the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, plus, we will sell home-producing hydrogen fuel systems through all our retail outlets so that hydrogen fuel can be produced at home, all backed up by Pep Boys’ longstanding good reputation.
Incidentally, with Sunoco being Philadelphia-based, I got in touch with them several years back to ask if they had any plans of producing hydrogen fuel, thinking that could be an angle to take the Pep Boys idea further — that is, creating a joint venture between those two Philadelphia-based corporations — but it was absolutely a no go. Not only did they not have any intentions of producing hydrogen fuel as an extract of that which they now produce, but they were infuriated at just my mere mention of the word hydrogen.
As for Texaco, given how they have service garages all over the U.S. as well as filling stations, I did suggest to them that they could take on the role I was urging Pep Boys to do — of offering the service of converting customers’ vehicles to run on hydrogen plus providing hydrogen fuel. But unlike Pep Boys and Sunoco, of course, as a refiner, it is tied directly to Big Oil. It meets face to face and has the strongest of all bonds with those who produce petroleum.”
This concludes part 1, so check back again for part 2 of Steve’s Journey to get H2 kits into Pep Boys and mainstream this technology.