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10 Talking Points about PHEVs-- latest version
Dec 17, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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This is the latest version, December 1, 2005, of a document that you can download as a one-page printable PDF at­calcars-phevtalkingpoints.pdf


1. How to electrify hybrids. Today's hybrids are 100% gasoline-fueled. They're more efficient than non-hybrids because they don't idle, they use smaller engines, and they recapture braking energy into a battery for later use. It's a great improvement. Tapping their full potential can save much more gasoline and bring many other benefits.

2. Spend less to fill up your spare tank. A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) adds a cleaner, cheaper, domestic energy source for your car: electricity. It's like having a second small fuel tank you always use first. You fill it at home with electricity from an ordinary 120-volt socket, at a cost equivalent to less than $1/gallon. (Assumptions below.) Here's another way to think about it: At $3/gallon of gas, driving a non-hybrid car costs 8-20 cents/mile (depending on your miles/gallon). With a PHEV, all-electric local travel and commuting can drop to 2-4 cents/mile.

Assumptions for Point #2: Toyota Prius: 260 Watt-hours/ electric mile at "off-peak" (overnight) electricity rate (8.8 cents/kilowatt hour) equals a cost of 2.3 cents/mile. Multiply this by the 45 miles per gallon of a typical Prius to get the equivalent of $1.03/gallon. Typical Non-Hybrid SUV: 400 Watt-hours/electric-mile at the off-peak rate of 8.8 cents/kilowatt hour equals a cost of 3.5 cents/mile. Multiply this by this less efficient vehicle's average of 18 miles/gallon to get an even better $0.63/gallon. (SUVs get low mileage, so they can improve even more!).

3. Use no gas for short trips, still get unlimited range. If your batteries have a longer range than your average daily commute, you'll rarely need gas. But if you forget to plug in, or take a longer trip, you still have the same extended range you've always had from a gasoline engine -- all in a relatively clean, efficient hybrid.

4. Neo-cons and greens agree. Using electricity for your daily local travel improves "energy security." PHEVs have been endorsed by an alliance of environmentalists and national security conservatives who see it as the best way to rapidly cut our need for imported oil. They want car makers to add the "flex-fuel" feature (cost: $150) so PHEVs can run on biodiesel or cellulosic ethanol. That way PHEVs could get well over 100 MPG of gasoline (+ electricity + biofuels).

5. Your car offers emergency home backup power. Hybrids and PHEVs can be used as mobile electricity generators after disasters and outages, providing low-emission 120-volt power for days to emergency centers and individual homes.

6. Electricity: key helper on global warming. Even though over half of the nation's electricity is produced from coal, when you count all the emissions from the oil well or coal mine to the car's wheels, an electric vehicle produces about half the greenhouse gases of an all-gasoline car. This will get better as utilities are use cleaner and more renewable energy.

7. Lead the auto industry out of the wilderness. American car makers missed the boat on hybrid technology. Now they're playing catch-up. PHEVs offer the chance to leapfrog their competitors. Getting car buyers excited about clean, advanced technology cars could save one or more beleaguered car companies. As for automakers' concerns about whether batteries are ready, the Electric Power Research Institute sees no technical impediments, and says cost issues will be resolved as production volumes increase. Component suppliers see the opportunity and have formed a Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium to demonstrate performance and to speed automakers' path to commercialization of PHEVs.

8. Save money in the long run. Mass-produced PHEVs can pay for themselves in higher fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs. In high volumes, car makers could eventually sell PHEVs for under $2,000 more than current hybrids, or under $5,000 more for hybrid SUVs. Just as current car buyers pay for larger engines or leather seats without expecting a return, early adopter buyers will pay extra for this "green feature." The bonus? Projections based on real-world experience from electric car fleets show PHEVs have a lower lifetime cost of ownership than any other vehicle type.

9. PHEVs already exist. Dr. Andy Frank converted Ford and GM cars and SUVs at UC Davis. The Electric Power Research Institute worked with DaimlerChrysler to design PHEV versions of the Mercedes Sprinter 15-passenger commercial van, using lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries. They'll soon be tested by Federal Express, The New York Times, Southern California Edison, South Coast Air Quality Management District and Kansas City. Last year, non-profit CalCars built the first PRIUS+ conversion. Then for-profit EnergyCS built a more advanced version, and launched EDrive Systems to sell installed conversions to Prius owners in 2006. CalCars hopes to work with a car company on conversions of an existing hybrid to meet a fleet market demand we estimate at 10,000-100,000 vehicles.

10. Deploy the fleet. Fleet buyers can lead the way. The Plug-In Austin Campaign has launched. An expanded Plug-In Partners national campaign for a large fleet buy is in the works. Some firms are subsidizing up to $5,000 of their employees' costs to buy hybrids. To slash battlefield fuel costs and get the no-heat "footprint" of electric vehicles, the military may be a big buyer. Senators from both parties (from Orrin Hatch to Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama) and former cabinet members (from George Shultz to James Woolsey) endorse PHEVs as the fastest way to significantly cut oil use. New hybrid tax credits (not deductions) help buy down extra costs. Other initiatives, including incentives to car makers and buyers, will come from all levels of government.

The California Cars Initiative is a non-profit startup of entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and consumers that combines technology development and advocacy. Our goal? To get car companies to build PHEVs. More at Read the Frequently Asked Questions. See the News Archive. Write to info@...

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