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Hybrid automakers such as Toyota, Honda, and Ford spent millions educating consumers that hybrid vehicles don't need to be plugged to an outlet to be charged. But among a growing number of hybrid enthusiasts, there is a burgeoning movement for such technology to be incorporated in future hybrid vehicles.
The motivation is the same that led to the development of hybrids in the first place: heightened fuel economy. This time, though, plug-in proponents are promising 100-miles per gallon, which would greatly reduce America's dependence on foreign oil suppliers. Says Daryl Slusher of Plug-in Partners, "this technology can make a bigger impact more quickly than any other transportation technology that's available or coming anytime soon."

Automakers, though, are reluctant to invest in this change of hybrid interest, with the main difficulty to be a battery that can handle being plugged into the nation's grid system. Ford's VP of environmental and safety engineering Sue Cischke points out such a battery would have to be larger and heavier, affecting the vehicle's mileage. "I'm not saying there's not a future for it," she added, "but it sounds so great -- you plug it in and you go -- and it's a lot more complicated than that." (Pictured are members of CalCars, a group dedicated in developing 100-mph hybrids.)

[Source: Detroit Free Press, Calcars]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Hmm... interesting... Personally, I think a very good upgrade for current hybrids would be to just add solar panels built into the roof.
      • 9 Years Ago
      #3 - You may have misunderstood the point. As far as I know, plug-in hybrids run just fine when the pluggable battery runs out--they behave as they did when stock. That extra battery simply gives the option of running only on electric power for dozens of miles, far more than the factory powertrain does. Plugged in regularly (and driven mostly around town), you can thus average 100 MPG instead of, say, 40 MPG.

      Since the plug-in feature doesn't detract from the original Prius's functionality, what's so bad about giving the driver choices?
      • 9 Years Ago
      #8 you are WRONG. The internal combustion engine in a car is the least polluting fossil feul, Coal is so dirty it is not funny. Also i am not sure but I beleive a solar panel on someones roof will not generate enough electricity to power there house let alone there car.
      • 9 Years Ago
      The plug in prius is a fantastic idea. I think some people who have commented earlier haven't read up on the idea. First using energy from the grid IS cleaner than burning gas, even if it is coal. The natural evolution will be that people have a solar panal on their roof of their house which can feed into their car, so each day the first 50 miles would be virtually no pollution or cost-which is about all we drive each day. Second, the idea of plugging a car in at night is much more appealing to me than to have to stop at the gas station every week. I pull the car into the garage and plug it in, it's that easy. As far as the solar panel comment, people have already done it, it can be bought as an after market add on. I hear they add 5-10% to an already fantasticly low gas consuption. What it comes down to is how do you want to spend your money: on a car with a huge motor with more power than most any of us will ever need that contaminates or the same amount on something that keeps the waste down to a minimum.
      • 9 Years Ago
      CalCars has worked closely with EnergyCS, and yes, that photo is of Greg Hanssen and Pete Nortman of EnergyCS and Mark Kohler of Valence Technologies (suppliers of the batteries pack shown. For more photos see http://www.calcars.org/photos.html and for more about the benefits and misconceptions about plug-in hybrids, see http://www.calcars.org/faq.html
      • 9 Years Ago
      Almost every vehicle innovation has taken 20 years to be widely implemented: hydraulic brakes, disc brakes, four valves per cylinder, fuel injection, etc.

      PHEVs are being built today because there are buyers. The attraction for some people is because 'refueling' with electricity from the wall reduces oil imports, and for some it's because vehicles that use electric power are zero emission.

      A flex-fuel engine that uses E85 ethanol or gasoline is a useful option for a PHEV vehicle. There are already 4 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road in the U.S.

      Overall fuel use by a flex-fuel PHEV would be primarily electric power from the wall, supplemented by ethanol, and if necessary they could also use gasoline.

      There are 200 million vehicles in the U.S. and about 800 million vehicles in the world. A few thousand PHEVs are easily accommodated by the electrical power grid especially because the grid has spare capacity at night. Because PHEV technology already exists, a few thousand PHEVs on the road is an excellent start to proving their value.

      The necessary increase in electrical power generation over a 30 year timeframe will involve a diverse range of solutions. Wind turbines will provide some new generating capacity, but of greater significance will be nuclear power and clean coal.

      On the question of how much electrical power could be collected from a car roof covered in solar PV collectors. Enough power could be collected in a day to drive about 5 miles or to run the air conditioner for half an hour. The first few hundred implementations could provide worthwhile data.

      Battery manufacturers with advanced technology for vehicle propulsion include:

      Electrovaya, lithium ion SuperPolymer battery.

      Johnson Controls and Saft: JCS Advanced Power Solutions

      Valence Technologies, Saphion iron phosphate based cathode in a Li-ion battery.

      A123 Systems, Li-ion, 5-minute charge from a bank of supercapacitors.


      Panasonic EV Energy, a joint venture with Matsushita Electric.

      Fuji Heavy Industries and NEC: NEC Lemilion Energy Co. Ltd. Manganese Li-ion battery that can be charged to 90 per cent of its capacity in five minutes with the use of an exclusive charger. The extremely small and lightweight 25 kWh battery pack about the size of a VCR is designed to last 10 years or 90,000 miles. On battery-only, this drives a small car over 70 miles. In a PHEV it extends gasoline mileage to better than 100 mpg. (Toyota recently bought 9 percent of Fuji Heavy).

      ZEBRA sodium nickel chloride battery pack from MES DEA in Switzerland. BMW Mini Cooper PHEV uses Zebra batteries. The car can drive 120 miles on battery only, or unlimited range using the engine and gasoline.

      There are dozens more companies working on all aspects of battery technology, and especially on derivatives of Li-ion technology.
      • 9 Years Ago
      These 100 mpg plug-in hybrids don't really get 100 mpg. Unlike a bone-stock Prius, which derives all of its motivational energy from gasoline, these plug-ins take power from the grid, hence they're getting 100 'miles per gallon and some kW-hours". Is their overall energy usage per mile less than stock hybrids, yes. But they're not 100 mpg vehicles!

      Autoextremist took it one step further and layed out a plan for 1000 mpg vehicles!
      • 9 Years Ago
      A PHEV Prius gets about 50 mpg on gasoline. That's about 50 miles on $2.50 of fuel.

      As an option, the PHEV can 'refuel' with electrical power from the wall. That's about 120 miles on $2.50 of 'fuel'

      For Prius PHEVs that use some gasoline and some electrical power from the wall, they drive about 100 miles on $2.50 of 'fuel'.
      • 9 Years Ago
      That picture is of Energy CS of Monrovia, CA with their plug in Prius. http://www.energycs.com/

      They took that car to EVS in Monaco last April.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Plug in hybrids is such a stupid idea. The hybrid was the answer to the problems of pure electrics that needed to be parked, plugged in and recharged. Why on earth would anyone want to go backwards and suggests that new hybrids have the ability to be plugged in.

      This logic is similar to taking a CVT and giving it distinctive shift points. How stupid is that? Take a CVT and remove on the its best features--being smooth and shiftless.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Great, so rather then burning gas we burn more coal/natural gas, etc. Fantastic. Now, if you only plugged in your hybrid to a grid powered by solar or wind...

      Also, I call BS on the claim the battery would have to be bigger and heavier. Sure they would, if you were trying to convert it to an EV1 electric only powertrain.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Wow, a 100 mph hybrid! Is that 100mph in say 10.2 seconds over a quarter mile? Those aint bad results guys, keep it up.

      Now do that with great fuel economy and we can talk.
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