Monday, June 27, 2005

Hybrid Hybrid pulls power from grid

Most owners of hybrid cars that I have spoken to tell me that they are disappointed in their gas mileage. Perhaps noticing a new market, entrepreneurs are developing a way to charge your hybrid vehicle from home--and increase your gas mileage to boot.

By replacing the Prius' batteries with a more powerful array and recharging it using a standard electric outlet at home, engineers have enabled the hybrid to get more than 100 miles per gallon of gasoline.

"We want to get people thinking of [plug-ins] as a real alternative" in the country's long-term energy plan, said Felix Kramer, founder of, an advocacy group in Palo Alto.

The idea of plug-in hybrids is generating a lot of buzz in energy circles because of the work of a start-up Monrovia firm, Energy Control Systems Engineering. The firm bought a Prius and converted it with its own system.

Co-owner Greg Hanssen now tools around Southern California in the bright blue plug-in Prius prototype. The car can deliver 150 to 180 mpg for up to 35 miles of low-speed, around-town driving and can average 70 to 100 mpg on longer trips at higher speeds.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District recently gave the company $130,000 to convert four Priuses to plug-ins that will be tested in several car fleets.

Aren't we really just shifting the pollution from a mobile source (the car) to a stationary source like the power plant?!? How many gallons of LNG will have to be imported in order to generate the electricity so some hybrid car uses less gasoline?!?