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Felix Kramer: Wikis


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Felix Kramer (born April 29, 1949) is a communications expert and serial entrepreneur, well-known for his most recent work as founder of the California Cars Initiative ( CalCars is a non-profit he organized in 2002 to build awareness and encourage mass production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs.

Felix Kramer
Born April 29, 1949 (1949-04-29) (age 60)
Residence California Redwood City, California
Other names Lawrence Felix Kramer
Education Cornell University
Occupation Entrepreneur and advocate
Employer The California Cars Initiative
Known for Founding, promoting plug-in vehicles
Spouse(s) Rochelle Lefkowitz




Education and early career

Kramer grew up in the New York metropolitan area and spent considerable amounts of time in Europe, becoming fluent in French. He received his bachelor's degree in American Studies from Cornell University in January 1971. He worked as a writer/editor for organizational and union publications, a member of Congress, a state agency, and for environmental organizations including New York Sun Day in 1978 and the Energy Task Force. With the arrival of WYSIWIG computers and software and laser printing, he started Kramer Communications, New York City's first start-to-finish desktop publishing (DTP) companies, in 1984, which he sold in 1997.

He was a founding or active member of World Wide Web Artists Consortium, New York New Media Association, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Electronic Frontier Foundation, National Association of Desktop Publishers, National Writers Union/UAW.

Personal computer and early internet-era activity

Using knowledge gained in the DTP business and his early editorial experience, Kramer co-authored (with Maggie Lovaas) the first book on electronic publishing as a business in 1990 & 1991. The book, Desktop Publishing Success: How to Start and Run a Desktop Publishing Business, sold 25,000 copies in seven reprintings and was widely reviewed, including acclaim as "the Bible of the DTP Biz" by Publish Magazine's editor-in-chief[1].

Kramer became involved in fax broadcasting with Folio: First Day (Cowles Business Media) and then with business development, usability and online marketing and promotion for a series of early online startups including SlipKnot (shareware browser from Micromind), Metrobeat (became Citysearch), PBS-TV's P.O.V., and early microtransaction startups.

In 1997, as he relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, Kramer founded, an online marketplace for the web design and development industry, featuring "WhoBuiltIt," the first online reverse directory for websites. He built the company with a small international staff, raised angel funding and remained as CEO until it was bought in early 2001.


Felix Kramer testifying for CalCars at a meeting of the California Air Resources Board in September 2006.

In 2001, interrupted by surgery for an acoustic neuroma[2], Kramer moved his focus from high-tech back to his earlier environmental concerns. He approached Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), and entered into discussions with RMI-spinoff HyperCar to advance its concept of a fully optimized, 99 mile/gallon, fuel-cell-powered SUV. He proposed a pre-purchase "demand-pull" model for financing the company.

With co-sponsorship from Hypercar, he organized what became the founding meeting of the California Car Company Initiative on July 29, 2002 in Palo Alto, CA, which evolved into the non-profit California Cars Initiatve, and shifted its focus from hydrogen fuel-cells to the nearer-term plug-in hybrid. The focus was on a solution using existing technology and household 120-volt household power rather than a new infrastructure. CalCars announced its dual approach of technical demonstration of feasibility and advocacy to reach "influencers" and decision-makers. Having recruited engineer Ron Gremban as Technology Lead and begun an open source Prius Plus conversion program[3], CalCars completed the first Prius conversion in 2004. In 2006, with a conversion by one of the independent conversion companies, Kramer became the "world's first non-technical consumer owner" of a PHEV[4]. He flew that vehicle to Washington DC in May 2006 for the first public viewing of a PHEV on Capitol Hill[5].

Since then, the name Felix Kramer has become strongly associated with plug-in hybrids and PHEVs. Author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman acknowledges him as someone "who has made plug-in electric cars not only his passion but an imminent reality."[6] And during these same years, "plug-in hybrid" has nearly become a household word (phrase).

In 2008 Presidential candidate Barack Obama set goals of putting 1 million plug-in cars on the road by 2015 and making half of new purchases for the federal fleet to be plug-ins by 2012.[7]

Now, many if not most of the major automakers plan to offer some type of plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle in the 2010-2012 time frame.

Following this "success," however, Kramer and others at CalCars began in 2008 to address the problem that the rate of market penetration (as a percentage of new vehicles into the national and international fleet) would be remarkably slow, even with optimistic assumptions. To accelerate the "electrification of transportation" and all of its consequent benefits, Kramer and CalCars started their second major initiative: spurring the growth of a new industry that converts existing internal combustion engine vehicles into plug-ins.

Publications and public presentations

Kramer kept a blog called 'Plugs, Power and People' from 2006-2007, but most of his online publication comes from his Yahoo! news-group news-letter, copies of which are archived on CalCars' website[8]. He has also written op-ed pieces for the Huffington Post,, EVWorld, as well as traditional publications such as Green Car Journal.

Kramer has spoken extensively at energy and policy events in the U.S. and internationally, a list of which can be found at[9]. Many of his promotional materials, including the most recent "standard presentation" are also accessible on the CalCars website[10].

Personal life

Kramer is married to Rochelle Lefkowitz, president and founder of Pro-Media Communications, and they have a college-aged son.


  1. ^ See Felix Kramer's online résumé
  2. ^ A nonmalignant brain tumor; see Chapter 3 of Sherry Boschert's book cited in the external links
  3. ^ See
  4. ^ See CalCars' Where PHEVs Are"
  5. ^ See CalCars' "PHEVs in DC."
  6. ^ Thomas L. Friedman, in "Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America" [1]
  7. ^ President-Elect Obama on Plug-In Cars
  8. ^ See CalCars' News Archive
  9. ^ See CalCars' events page
  10. ^ See CalCars' downloads page

External links


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