Duke Energy, Coca-Cola tesing plug-in hybrid vehicles

The Wolfpack Power Pack drinks Coke.

We recently told you about North Carolina's Duke Energy's new research center for plug-in hybrids. Yesterday, Duke Energy announced that the energy company and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated (based in Charlotte) will be working together on research for plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) technology. The partnership won't just be to test vehicles - both companies will convert some hybrids currently in their fleets to PHEVs (Coke will convert three Priuses) - but also to educate the public on what a plug-in hybrid is all about.

This isn't Coke's first foray into greener vehicles. Just a few weeks ago, Eaton announced that Coke had ordered 120 hybrid trucks. Now, if they can find a way to replace all the HFCS with sugar - the old fashioned style - in American Coke, I might drink the stuff more often.

Press Release:

Coca-Cola Bottling Company Joins with Duke Energy to Test Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technology

CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) and Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated have launched a joint research initiative to promote plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) technology.

"Through this collaboration, we hope to increase the awareness of plug-in hybrids, demonstrate the viability of the technology, and evaluate performance parameters," said Mike Rowand, director of advanced customer technology for Duke Energy.

As part of this initiative, both companies will convert some of the hybrid vehicles in their transportation fleets to plug-in hybrids by using aftermarket kits.

A PHEV kit extends the efficiency of a standard hybrid vehicle by increasing the size of its battery, which can be charged through a normal 120- volt electric outlet. PHEV technology has enabled vehicles to travel 100 miles or more on a gallon of gas.

"We believe plug-in hybrid technology could play an important role in further reducing our fleet costs while addressing environmental concerns," said Lauren C.

Steele, vice president of corporate affairs for Coca-Cola Consolidated. "We are excited about participating in this pilot program."

Charlotte-based Coca-Cola Consolidated currently operates more than 400 hybrid vehicles, one of the nation's largest corporate hybrid fleets, and plans to convert three Toyota Prius hybrids into PHEVs.

"Plug-in hybrid technology offers real advantages in a number of areas," Rowand said. "In addition to higher mileage in the face of rising gasoline prices, plug-in hybrids produce much lower emissions and can help our nation achieve greater energy security while providing the overall performance drivers expect.

"This is really just the start for what we hope will be the broader use of plug-in hybrids," he added. "Through this collaboration with Coca-Cola and other Duke Energy initiatives, there will be more than a dozen plug-in hybrids operating in the Charlotte region in early 2008.

"As more people begin to see the advantages of plug-in hybrids, we believe market demand will increase, which will encourage automakers to move forward with their plans to produce plug-in hybrids commercially," added Rowand.

Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power companies in the United States, supplies and delivers energy to approximately 4 million U.S. customers. The company has approximately 36,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Midwest and the Carolinas, and natural gas distribution services in Ohio and Kentucky. In addition, Duke Energy has more than 4,000 megawatts of electric generation in Latin America, and is a joint- venture partner in a U.S. real estate company. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at: www.duke-energy.com.

[Source: Duke Energy]

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