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Seattle Agencies + Idaho Lab in Demo Project w/13 Conversions
Oct 25, 2007 (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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The city of Seattle, King County (in which Seattle is located), the Port of Seattle, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will all be getting 13 Priuses to be converted by Hymotion (a division of batterymaker A123Systems) in early 2008, with funds for each $12,000 conversion coming in part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

From the Fact Sheet: What is being tested as part of this Demonstration Project? INL will monitor the mpg, electricity usage and other vehicle performance measures of the 13 vehicles in the demonstration project for one year. Seattle City Light will gather valuable real-world experience on PHEV-electric grid integration issues, and be part of the national effort to establish communication and control standards in preparation for expected PHEV rollouts in the coming years.


Mayor announces city of Seattle, others to test 100 mpg plug-in hybrid cars Yearlong demonstration project to test performance in an urban area

SEATTLE October 24, 2007 -- Mayor Greg Nickels announced today the city of Seattle and other local agencies will participate in a yearlong demonstration project testing the performance of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in an urban area. Thanks to funding and technical support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL), matched by funding from program participants, 13 existing Priuses will be converted to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) at a total cost of $156,000.

The project will test technology used to convert the second generation Priuses to 100 miles per gallon vehicles; test PHEV performance in an urban area; help evaluate PHEV-electric grid integration issues; and promote electricity as an alternative fuel for transportation.

Achieving up to 100 mpg, plug-in hybrid vehicles are just one more step in the city's fight against climate change with the added benefit of ultimately reducing dependence on foreign oil. Expected greenhouse gas emissions from the PHEV Priuses in this demonstration project are 50 percent less than conventional Priuses.

"Last week oil prices broke $90 per barrel for the first time. In King County, 52 percent of our greenhouse gas pollution comes from burning oil in our cars and trucks. For the sake of our economy, security and our climate, we need to use fewer cars and greener cars for getting around," Nickels said. "It is critical for government to be involved in developing clean and cost-saving alternatives to oil-fueled vehicles. This demonstration project will accelerate the commercial introduction of these vehicles and prepare our utility for the day when many of us are plugging into the grid instead of filling up at the pump."

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., welcomed the news. "Plug-in hybrids are on the cusp of commercialization. Automakers say they will build them if battery costs drop. But batterymakers need volume orders to reduce costs. This project and others like it will help speed the process of making plug-in hybrid vehicles available to Americans in each and every state by breaking this logjam," Inslee said. Inslee has authored language in the House-passed energy package that would create a $4,000 tax credit for consumers who purchase plug-ins, a national plug-in hybrid pilot program, and grants for nonprofits, as well as state and local governments, to promote plug-in hybrids.

The DOE's Idaho National Laboratory is lead for the field performance and life testing of advanced technology vehicles. "This project will collect valuable performance data needed to help the U.S. Department of Energy support development of cleaner and more efficient transportation," said Michael Hagood, Energy Systems Business Manager, U.S. DOE Idaho National Laboratory. "The participants in this study will provide real-time, real-life information vital to ensuring these technological advances become viable on a wide-scale basis. We couldn't do this important work without them."

"The Port of Seattle is committed to environmental excellence. We're pleased to join with the city and other agencies to foster technology that promises to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase fuel efficiency," said Tay Yoshitani, CEO of the Port of Seattle. "We need these kinds of solutions to address global climate change and keep our economy strong."

A123Systems, a leading high-power lithium ion battery manufacturer based in Watertown, Mass., will provide the conversion kits. Through its Hymotion division, A123 manufactures battery modules that can convert existing hybrids into plug-in hybrids. "Local government fleet programs are a crucial step in the advancement and acceptance of next-generation green vehicle technologies," said Bud Collins, vice president of pack and systems, A123Systems.

Plug-in hybrids can be charged during periods when electricity demand is low, then use the stored energy to allow the car's hybrid engine to run on electricity, rather than gasoline, more of the time. In a year, a PHEV driven a typical mix of 12,000 city and highway miles will consume from 1,840 kWh to 2,477 kWh of electricity, depending on the battery size. This is equivalent to the energy used in three to five months by an electric water heater in a three-person household (based on 540 kWh per month).

A total of 13 Toyota Priuses owned by the city of Seattle, King County, Port of Seattle, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will be converted and Massachusetts-based A123Systems will provide the conversion kits. The INL will provide funding and technical support to convert six vehicles supplied by the participants as follows:

  • Seattle -- two;
  • King County -- two;
  • Port of Seattle -- one; and
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency -- one.

In addition, each agency will fund conversions of seven additional Priuses as follows:

  • Seattle -- two;
  • King County -- two;
  • Port of Seattle -- one; and
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency -- two.

Three of the four city of Seattle Priuses are used by City Light and the other is in the city's general-use motor pool. In addition, the city fleet contains 36 electric off-road vehicles, including 16 carts used at Seattle Center by maintenance crews; one neighborhood electric vehicle used by maintenance crews at and for general transport around Seattle's 350-acre Warren G. Magnuson Park; and 19 Segways, used by a variety of city departments, including Seattle Center security and event staff, the Fire Marshal's office, parking meter collections staff, parks department staff commuting between their headquarters and downtown city offices, water meter readers and the motor pool. Next week Seattle Police parking enforcement officers will begin a two-week pilot to test the viability of using Segways on their rounds.

The plug-in Prius conversions will cost $12,000 per vehicle and will be done in the first quarter of 2008. The conversion includes the installation of equipment that will automatically collect "on-road" data from each vehicle. The data gathered will add to the INL's growing database on PHEVs. This data supports the federal government's vehicle development projects.

The successor to the conventional hybrid, the PHEV also runs part of the time on electricity. In a step beyond the conventional hybrid, which is charged by on-board electrical systems, the PHEV has a second "fuel tank" in the form of a longer-lasting battery that can be "filled" from an ordinary socket at a cost equivalent to less than $1 per gallon of gasoline.

When fully commercialized, PHEVs will be able to run for 30 miles or more on electric power alone, after which the vehicle reverts to standard hybrid operation. As a result, PHEVs have the potential to reduce the need for foreign oil. And the environmental benefits increase as the North American electric power grid becomes greener.

For more details about the Port of Seattle's environmental activities, please visit this Web site:

For more information about the city of Seattle's climate protection activities, visit this Web site:

Visit the mayor's Web site at Get the mayor's inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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