September 20, 2006

Hybrids Plus claims 100+ MPG

What is the most direct way to decrease our reliance on gasoline? Create vehicles that achieve very high mileage on little or no gasoline. One company, Hybrids Plus, is converting off-the-shelf Toyota Priuses into plug-in versions that demonstrate how close we are to greatly multiplying vehicle MPG.

James Fraser of The Energy Blog ran a story recently about the delivery of a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) to the Colorado Governor's Office of Energy Management.

Taking a stock HEV-2 Prius (see below) and converting to a PHEV-30 rated Hybrids Plus Prius broadens our concept of what can be accomplished with emerging car technology. If a normal Prius gets 50 MPG, a plug-in version of the same car gets over 100 MPG. It is my view that all cars should be made flex-fuel compatible, including PHEVs. If a PHEV-30 was operating as a FF/PHEV on E85, it could reach approximately 500 miles for each gallon of gasoline that it consumed (blended with 5 gallons of ethanol).

Typically it takes 40 months for a car to go from concept to release (the Pinto is an example of what happens if you try to rush that schedule). If it takes 3 years to realize these obvious benefits, let's start building demand for production of FF/PHEVs NOW!

Here is some background information - courtesy of the Hybrids Plus website:

All HEVs (Hybrid Electric Vehicles) presently produced are ultimately just gasoline cars. They do reduce emissions, and they may improve fuel efficiency (compared to an equivalent, non-hybrid car). However, they are fueled exclusively by gasoline.

A Plug-in Hybrid car, in contrast, can also be fueled by electricity from an electrical outlet. Initially, a PHEV uses less gas than an HEV, because it can draw energy longer, from its larger battery. For example, a Toyota Prius' 50 mpg efficiency can be improved to about 100 mpg when operated as a PHEV. Eventually, when that storage of electrical energy is depleted, a PHEV is no more efficient than an HEV.

EV distance
HEVs and PHEVs are rated by how far they can go just on electricity stored in their batteries. For example, a stock Toyota Prius is an HEV-2, meaning that its battery holds enough energy for about 2 miles. A Hybrids Plus Prius conversion is a PHEV-30, meaning that its battery holds enough energy for about 30 miles.

Note that a Prius PHEV must still use some gasoline because, by design, its gas engine must operate when going 35 mph or more.

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