Jun 20, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Coop America Quarterly is one of the first publications to start talking about the trend of independent local efforts promoting PHEVs. Economic Action for a Just Planet No. 69 Summer 2006, page 4:
Hybrid Cars Get More Efficient
From Minnesota lawmakers to Golden State Raging Grannies, a growing movement has begun to demand more and faster development of an already available technology that can boost the efficiency of hybrid cars, allowing them to travel as far as 60 miles on electricity alone.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) come equipped with a plug-in battery pack, which, when fully charged, can complete most Americans' daily average car trip (calculated at around 30 miles or less) without using gasoline. One automaker, DaimlerChrysler, has begun developing factory-ready plug-in hybrids, though they're not yet commercially available. A California company called EDrive Systems opened its doors this spring, offering an add-on device that can convert a Toyota Prius into a plug-in hybrid.
A PHEV's electric power is fully sustainable if the plug-in power source is renewable, and researchers at the Unversity of California-Davis say super-thin, car-rooftop photovoltaic panels could charge the plug-in battery for consumers who don't already generate their at-home electricity from a renewable source like wind or solar.
"Nothing has to be invented to produce a plug-in vehicle," says Dr. Andrew Frank, a mechanical engineering professor at UCDavis and director of the UCD Hybrid Electric Research Center. "Everything needed is available: the power trains, the gasoline engines, the computer systems, electric motors and batteries. All we need is one of the large auto manufacturers to step up to the plate."
That's what some lawmakers and local citizens' groups are working on. For example, in Minnesota in March, a bipartisan group of state legislators sponsored a bill encouraging Ford Motor Co. to convert its St. Paul plant into a PHEV plant, offering $100,000 in plug-in hybrid research grants to Minnesota State University to help jump-start the conversion. In Austin, Texas, city officials have signed onto the "Plug-in Partners" campaign (a national campaign intended to increase demand for plug-in hybrids), and this spring, a Palo Alto chapter of the Raging Grannies staged protests at Ford dealerships, demanding that dealers tell their corporate headquarters there's a market for PHEVs.
CAPTION: The DAimlerChrysler "Sprinter" is one of the first plug-in hybrids to hit the road in the US.