Jun 25, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has been a leading supporter of plug-in hybrids for years -- and a model for directions other regional air districts can take. Last Thursday they had something of a "coming-out party" for EnergyCS, including representatives from Southern California Edison, Plug-In Partners, and Andy Frank from UC Davis. The only media report we've seen follows.
http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/articles/3215966.html Officials lobby automakers to build plug-in hybrid vehicles AQMD and Energy Control Systems sponsor event to encourage the production of a vehicle that could get up to 100 mpg. By Megan Bagdonas DAILY BREEZE, June 23, 2006
Fueling up your car could be as simple as plugging in an electric toothbrush once the acronym PHEV -- plug-in hybrid electric vehicle -- becomes as recognizable as SUV.
With a bigger battery pack, smaller fuel tank and the ability to recharge in a household electric wall socket, the technology for the next generation of hybrid cars is here. But it could be several years before they hit the streets.
Plug-in vehicles operate completely on electricity up to 35 mph, unlike regular hybrids that burn fuel the minute the driver eases off the brake. At higher speeds the gas engine kicks in and runs simultaneously with the battery and averages 100 miles per gallon.
It takes no longer than eight hours to recharge, and the plug-in uses as much electricity as a hair dryer, said Pete Nortman, president of Energy Control Systems, which designs prototype plug-in vehicles.
It's just a matter of creating the demand for car companies to produce them, said city leaders, vehicle engineers and utility officials at a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle campaign Thursday at the South Coast Air Quality Management District headquarters in Diamond Bar.
"This is not a call for research, but a call for action to take it from the laboratory to the streets of Southern California and this country," said Riverside Mayor Ronald Loveridge, whose city is in one of the smoggiest areas in the nation.
While today's hybrid -- such as the Toyota Prius -- uses 30 percent less gas than regular vehicles, plug-ins have the ability to use 80 percent less, said Andrew Frank, Hybrid-Vehicle Center director at the University of California, Davis.
In two to three years, car companies will have the ability to mass produce plug-ins, which could cost about $2,000 more than the conventional hybrid. But it's more likely five to six years before consumers will plug in their cars, Frank said.
With crude oil at $70 a barrel, gas more than $3 a gallon, and China and India's demand rapidly increasing, the climate is right for a fueling sea change, said Ed Kjaer, director of electric transportation for Southern California Edison.
"We can no longer continue on this glutinous path of oil," he said. "Electricity is an energy asset for this country. We just need to figure out how to connect more transportation vehicles to it in the off-grid hours.
"We have excess off-peak capacity. Right now 12 million to 15 million cars could plug in."
Kjaer emphasized that the infrastructure is already in place. While there are 170,000 gas stations and 600 ethanol stations in the United States, the electric grid includes almost every home in the country, he said.
The first step, however, is to build a consumer market, said Roger Duncan, the deputy general manager of Austin Energy in Texas. He encouraged city and organization leaders to become "Plug-In Partners" -- a national campaign to prove that a market exists for the vehicles.
To become a partner, cities and organizations make a pledge of potential fleet purchases if the technology was available. Los Angeles, Irvine, San Francisco and Santa Barbara have joined the campaign. Plug-In Partners has about 6,000 "soft" fleet orders for the plug-ins so far.
"Ford put out the Ford Escape when they thought it could sustain 20,000 sales a year," Frank said. "So fleet orders is where we need to begin."