Friday, December 17, 2004

The Future of the Car: Plug-In Hybrids?

Toyota Volta Hybrid Supercar

This article taken from the Economist offers a more in-depth discussion of car hybrid technology than is usually found in the mainstream media.

As the article says:

The next step may be the "plug-in" hybrid... unlike the electric cars of the 1990s, none of today's hybrids needs to be plugged in - but if plugging were an option it would be a good idea. Andrew Frank and his team at the University of California Davis' Hybrid Electric Vehicle Centre are working exclusively on plug-in hybrids, which can operate as pure-electric vehicles over short distances (up to 60 miles, with a large enough battery pack) but can switch to a hybrid system when needed. Since the average American driver travels about 30 miles a day, plug-in hybrids could be recharged overnight, when electricity is cheaper to produce, and need never use petrol at all, except on longer trips.

According to studies carried out by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a non-profit organisation based in Palo Alto, California, plug-in hybrids could be one of the cleanest and most efficient kinds of car.

Economist Article on the future of hybrid car technology

And for a really in depth look take a look at this post on Ergosphere by the Engineer Poet

Green Car Congress Article on hacking the Toyota Prius to make it a plug-in hybrid

Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

ItalDesign's Toyota Volta Hybrid Supercar