If customers tell car companies that the market is out there for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), the company's logic goes, then maybe those cars will soon make it to dealer lots. Starting with customer's September bills, PG&E is organizing an online petition calling for a consumer-market release of PHEVs. Forty percent of the U.S. generating capacity sits idle or operates at a reduced load overnight (which is when most PHEVs would be charged), the company says. Even with all the ecological and fuel independence benefits, the automakers say there isn't enough demand for PHEVs.
"That's why PG&E is hoping to harness the power of its 5.1 million customers by sending an invitation in September bills encouraging our customers to simply sign the online petition asking automakers to make Plug-in Hybrids. The petition basically says, 'If you build it, we will buy it'," said Bob Howard, PG&E vice president of gas transmission and distribution.
While there aren't any PHEVs for sale (but there are after-market conversions), there are some PHEVs around. PG&E workers, for example, drive around in a fleet of prototypes.
In an unrelated story, it was revealed that a lot of these PHEVs in customers' hands would be recharged using PG&E energy, thereby raising the company's profits.
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UPDATAED - now includes link to online petition.