• May 13, 2006
Plug-in hybrids remain a mysteriously contentious issue with automakers, despite the fact the public and many non-profit and for-profit organizations are pushing for the technology's mainstream adoption. At Ford's annual shareholder's meeting Bill Ford responded to a question about plug-in hybrids by saying "We have nothing to announce today, but yes, we are keenly looking at it." You may remember we foresaw Ford considering the technology earlier when Niel Golightly, Ford's Director of Sustainable Business Strategies, admitted the company was considering the technology.
Hybridcars has posted a three-page letter sent to Bill Ford by Prof. Andrew Frank of UC Davis, the inventor of the plug-in hybrid, and Felix Kramer, founder of the non-profit California Cars Initiative, beseeching the man and his company to endorse the group's research and development of a plug-in Ford Escape Hybrid. You can read the letter here.

Again, Ford could score major PR points by being the first to mass market a plug-in hybrid. An Escape that could achieve 100+ mpg would certainly be front page news.

Many are speculating that liability concerns are what's keeping automakers at bay. Safety issues surrounding more batteries that are larger being stored onboard, the potential for sparks near gasoline vapor and even drivers pulling away with the car plugged in could be of particular concern.

[Source: HybridCars.com]


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  • 14 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I would think that the government will be against electrics until they can get road tax from your utility.
      This is about more than saving gas. This is about money. Why do you think you see a big push towards ethanol? To keep you going to the pump.

      • 8 Years Ago
      i have something against cars that "plug in"
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hmm, let's not forget that the electricity going into the plug would very likely be generated by fossil fuels, so..
      • 8 Years Ago
      Doesn't matter to me which company starts pushing this garbage on us. What I'd like to know is just what kind of real world data they have to back up these claims? None or little I bet.

      What I'm thinking is just how well will these POS's work in your average New England winter. It's dark, the roads are clogged and your 25 minute commute turns into 2 hours. Lights on, heat & blower at max, windshield wipers going, etc... How many KWH of battery does that trip take? I'd venture a bet the savings will be minimal maybe unmeasureable.

      This could be a real business opportunity for flatbed wrecker owners.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I should add that our simple converted electric Rabbit would not start when plugged in; concern about driving away while plugged in is stupid. It is also hardly a bother to plug it in in the evening. Toyota's jingle about not having to plug in their Prius is also just stupid. And as pointed out over and over, electricity can be generated in many ways, including solar, which over the long haul is not very expensive, as I found with my solar panals. There is a lot of misinformation floating around about this technology.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I should add that even with our primitive converted Rabbit, it could not be started when plugged in; to worry about driving off when plugged in is stupid. Moreover, plugging the car in is no hassle, and Toyota's jingle about not needing to plug in their Prius is pretty stupid.
      • 8 Years Ago
      There are many parts of the world that produce electricity in a relatively clean way. Even if all the electricity came from coal fire plants, i'm willing to bet its easier to control the emissions of a huge stationary plant than it is for millions of tiny engines running all over the place.

      "John Smith"... dude you gotta talk less. or at least use less caps lock.
      Chris Dixon
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have written a good bit on the issue of electric cars for the NYTimes. There are several points to consider when I read some of these arguments against cars that run on grid or other sources of electricity. The first point is that an electric motor is inherently far, far more efficient than the most efficient internal combustion engine. Some new electric propulsion systems - especially ones that use "in hub" motors with no moving parts (ie, the wheel IS the motor) can be as much as 90 percent efficient - especially when they use regenerative braking. Google "Wavecrest Bicycles" for an example of this type of motor. This compares with 30 to 40 percent efficiency for the best IC engines, in which a great deal of energy is lost as heat - that's why you need a radiator. Electric engines also generate maximum torque from 0 to a redline that can be into the low tens of thousands - thus negating the need for a complicated transmission. There is also the claim that there would be more pollution coming out of smokestacks to power electric cars. This is certainly true, but it is also true that rather than millions of "non point" pollution sources which must each have a complicated exhaust emissions control system, you are moving the source of pollution to one far more easily cleanable place - a power plant. If one were to install solar (expensive for sure) or rely on hydropower, or (gasp) nuclear, the greenhouse gas emissions would be negligible. When you plug your car in at night, you are also paying off-peak KWhour rates. Owners of GM EV-1's I interviewed awhile back figured that with electricity taken into consideration, they were paying somewhere for the equivalent of 100 MPG if my memory serves. If you're considering the efficency of an electric motor, it's also logical to assume that you would be producing far fewer greenhouse gasses at the smokestack than a typical IC engine through its tailpipe. The argument about battery longevity has largely been disproven by the fact that there are a great many pure electric Toyota RAV 4's in fleet and private hands in California that have gone 100,000 miles thru full charge/discharges with little discernable loss of their battery holding capacity -- that is, the ones that had the very highest quality (and expensive) batteries installed.
      I'm not saying that e-cars are a panacea, and I'm honestly not a raving advocate. They can be complicated, and are generally unproven and replacing batteries will cost a lot. But the concerns that I've read above are the ones I've been hearing for awhile and I've honestly researched the topic. Seems that a plug-in hybrid could be a good solution for a lot of commuters. I was also mighty interested in the Saab plug-in posting. Interesting...
      • 8 Years Ago
      We had a converted electric 1982 VW diesel Rabbit for over 10 years, and used it nearly daily for driving around town (including on the freeway). We plugged it in every night, and drove it in the day, usually less than 10 miles a day, but up to 20 or more. It put on about 23,000 miles after being converted , and went through three sets of golf-cart batteries, which was the main cost. I figured the total electricity/battery cost was equivalent to about 30-35 mpg of regular gasoline. For longer trips, We used a conventional gas vehicle (an Accura).

      We then got a Prius in 2000, and eventually stopped using the electric Rabbit (it essentially wore out). The Prius now has some 80,000 miles on it and has taken us all over the west and into Baja. No problem (except maintenance service is costly). However, it is a gas-burning car, and I dislike driving it around town, especially now that we have solar panals on our roof. I also worry about battery replacement, as have some others on this blog; I expect all the savings we have gotten with the Prius will be lost when we go to replace the battery. I would rather replace the Prius with a plug-in, and would jump at whoever comes out with one, even a Ford Escape.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I like the idea of a Ford Escape plug-in hybrid. Electric power for short essential trips with gasoline power available for recreation. It potentially supports the goals of energy diversification and preserving the freedom of the car while reducing the impact of oil prices and the Mideast insanity on my life. Let markets sort out the mix of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, and wind used to generate the electricity and lower cost sources will tend to dominate. No need for central planning here. As an extra financial incentive, early adopters will find creative ways to charge their cars at work and in parking garages before electric outlets get locked up.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yes, brilliant. Let's use up all the easily accessible oil in the world, then when that is running low, start using up all the coal 10 times as fast.
      • 8 Years Ago
      And the same LIBERALS who clamored for the plug-in hybrids wil lnot only continue to buy the imports that they always have, they will also join i nthe lawsuits against Ford when someone sticks their hand in the socket and gets burned.

      They won't be able to resist a chance to tear down a pillar of American industry & capitalism (to the extent that Ford isn't tearing ITSELF down with those nasty, HUGE, floaty, FRONT-wheel drive cars it likes to build).

      They like to do that with pharmaceuticals (the only companies keeping them [liberal boomers] alive). Wait until they get their hands on Ford. They'll find SOMETHING else to complain about.

      And get a load of the self-serving professor, asking Ford to endorse (use? pay royalites?) HIS "invention"!!
      Hahaha!
      And they said that with a straight face...
      No conflict of interest there!
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