Plug-In Hybrids make the Syracuse Post-Standard news feed
8/13/2005 06:33:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Not sure if this made the paper yet, but found it online tonight.

By TIM MOLLOY
The Associated Press:

Experimental hybrid cars get up to 250 mpg:


Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage.

It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret — a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.

Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car.

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb — all for about a quarter.

He's part of a small but growing movement. "Plug-in" hybrids aren't yet cost-efficient, but some of the dozen known experimental models have gotten up to 250 mpg.

[snip]

The extra batteries let Gremban drive for 20 miles with a 50-50 mix of gas and electricity. Even after the car runs out of power from the batteries and switches to the standard hybrid mode, it gets the typical Prius fuel efficiency of around 45 mpg. As long as Gremban doesn't drive too far in a day, he says, he gets 80 mpg.

Others are doing the same, and giving a choice word or two for politicians:

University of California, Davis engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg. They were converted from non-hybrids, including a Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Suburban.

Frank has spent $150,000 to $250,000 in research costs on each car, but believes automakers could mass-produce them by adding just $6,000 to each vehicle's price tag.

Instead, Frank said, automakers promise hydrogen-powered vehicles hailed by President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though hydrogen's backers acknowledge the cars won't be widely available for years and would require a vast infrastructure of new fueling stations.

"They'd rather work on something that won't be in their lifetime, and that's this hydrogen economy stuff," Frank said. "They pick this kind of target to get the public off their back, essentially."

Great article, worth a read. It seems to me that when the first generation of Toyota Priuses and Honda Insights are due to go in for battery maintainence in a couple of years, this would be a perfect time to snatch one up and convert it to plug-in status. Save a buck or two, probably too.

UPDATE:

Grist dampers my enthusiasm with a reality-based post. I am still enthusiastic about a future balance between a car powered by renewable electricity and a hybrid engine.

In other words, for his $3000 he will get 80 miles per gallon for 20 miles before his carriage turns back into a pumpkin. For the rest of the day he will carry a hundred pounds of bricks around in his now-useless trunk, which by the way will degrade his gas mileage. For the first 20 miles he drives each day he will save 0.25 gallons, thus recouping his $3000 in about twenty years, assuming his batteries last that long. The more miles he drives after the batteries go dead, the worse things get because of the extra weight of the dead batteries in his trunk. Which leads me to ask: If his commute is only ten miles each way, why not just ride a bike, get a little exercise, and save $3000? You can also get 80 mpg out of a 40-mpg car by carpooling with one passenger, or get 120 mpg with two passengers, or 160-mpg with three passengers.
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2 comments:

On 3:55 PM , RomeHater said...

Those figures are a bit misleading. Ron Gremban gets 80 MPG for 40 miles, until his $3,000 battery pack gives out. Who even knows how much electricty, how many batteries or how few miles Andy Frank can drive his vehicle to get 250 MPG.

A plug-in hybrid is not a bad idea in itself, but we should be realistic. Batteries have to be manufactured in a way that produces waste. Electricity has to be drawn from an already strained grid. As far as environmental concerns, I'd prefer a Centro bus that could get me from Rome to Utica rather than some hybrid I can't afford.

The big progress will be made in the cost effective places first. Crunching the numbers, I will replace every lightbulb in the house to CFL as the old ones burn out. The return on investment is modest, but noticable. I also suspect the cost will go down even more.

 
On 7:43 PM , Calvin Jones said...

I couldnt find an email adress so i left this letter here, sorry it off topic.

Dear Sir,
I have recently started a blog dedicated to climate change. The
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linked from the main site, and this site is dedicated to providing
links to the reports used in the composition of my blog. Please take a
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syndicating on you're site.

Yours truly,
Calvin Jones

http://climatechangeaction.blogspot.com