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    PHEV And The Hybrid Plug-in Grid
    By Audrey Amara | August 14th 2008 06:13 AM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Audrey

    I'm a Journalism graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and I recently spent two years in Bulgaria as a volunteer in the United States Peace

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    One way to help save the world is to buy a Prius for $20,000 but the fact remains that it still uses gas.

    The next vehicle in line, which crosses the half-way point between gas and electric, is the PHEV. The vehicle has a bigger electrical engine meaning it is more efficient because of its capability to use more electricity. In addition, the consumer will have the option to choose not to use gas.

    At the U.C Davis Institute of Transportation Studies Tom Turrentine, director of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) research center looks at the influence of transportation on society. More specifically Turrentine looks at the influence of hybrid cars that break the figurative “gas barrier,” like the PHEV which can make it 30 miles on plug-in battery power only.

    The combination of two or more different things, gas and electricity in the case of the modern car, creates a mixture of possibilities. One example can be found in the battery of the PHEV, which happens to also be the largest cost issue.

    “Can we bring the $500 a mile down to $250 a mile?” is a question that Turrentine is trying to find the answer to.

    With the job of making hybrid car components reliable and cost effective in order to compete with gasoline-only vehicles, companies are less inclined to push the boundaries of new technologies than they are to focus on costs. This is why it takes academics like Turrentine use their problem-solving skills to develop the vehicles that will one day replace the hybrid.

    The Prius has become such a big deal in all areas that for Turrentine it has stimulated his interest on an even higher academic level than expected, or in his words “how you change what people accept.”

    This acceptance begins with the ever popular Prius hybrid, which simply uses electricity to improve its efficiency. The car needs gas to run, just not as much.

    Despite the reputation as the next best thing to the light bulb, the truth is the electric motor in the Prius is only capable of going about one-mile without gas, making the PHEV, which can go 30 miles on its electric engine alone, even more of a breakthrough.

    When it comes to the incorporation of the Prius into the modern transportation system, the astounding accomplishment may mirror the imminent incorporation of the PHEV.

    “In two years it went from a concept car to a product car. Usually it’s about a four year window. Accomplishing it in two years gives us an idea of what’s possible,” said the research anthropologist about the incorporation of the PHEV in the near future.

    The Prius was once on the same level of the parking structure where the PHEV presently sits idle. The climb from the Prius’ conception to its present-day popularity is a pocket of time that Turrentine describes as miraculous and complicated—like going to the moon formerly was.

    In order to understand the impact of the up-and-coming blended PHEV it is important to visualize a scale with gas vehicles on one end and full electricity powered cars on the other.

    Turrentine begins the story of modern vehicles by placing the monstrous gas-guzzlers on the gas end of the grid. “In the 1990’s people got used to V8’s.” Skip ahead to the approximate birth of the Prius in 1995 and the future of cars can proceed. But hybrid technology isn’t efficient enough to be the ultimate answer.

    “We want to extend the range of the electric vehicle,” said Turrentine. One of the issues is that the battery begins to get expensive. The Prius is adaptable nowadays because the electric engine is relatively inexpensive, about $2,500, he said.

    In 2006 Tom Stephens, General Motors group vice president for their Powertrain division stated, “GM plans to introduce a new hybrid system annually for the next several years, each offering different levels of affordability, fuel savings and performance.”

    This sudden change of course for GM is indicative of the rapid shift that has been taking place in the auto industry since the introduction of the hybrid.

    The next, environmentally friendly vehicle that Turrentine calls “a long shot” is the extended range electric vehicle. The EREV has ten more miles of grid powered effectiveness than the PHEV, but it is also a rich man’s car.

    According the GM the vehicle may be advertised in showrooms as early as 2010. Turrentine says that the size and the complexity of the engine would make it extremely expensive, but as with the PHEV it may eventually cost less than a conventional hybrid. GM credits this to the fact that the EREV requires no transmission, unlike the standard hybrid, whose transmission is incredibly complex.

    Comments

    outsidethebox
    There was a 300+ MPG car built by Shell Oil {Dutch} in 1973 It had a chain and sprocket instead of drive train to reduce weight. The design of the Segway personal transport device used double everything motors etc. making it failsafe. The Ford model T at 20 Horse power went 50 mph. If you combined the ideas of all three you could build a very affordable light weight failsafe electric vehicle using multiple smaller electric motors. We should be reaching for the 500 mpg car and the 400 mile range electric vehicle. The technology is already here.
    Russell Ade Scientist Simple Solutions for Complex Problems
    Audrey Amara, need to expand your future, hybrid automobiles are just one answer, the other is purchasing a full electric vehicle. Yet another is converting what you already have and that is the focus you need to expand for all American Consumer's. My introduction of the foundation project simply explains how it can be possible to provide Consumer's with their Electric Vehicle and operate as if it were a business but ideally not selling anything at all. Progress depends on the number of Consumer's which would interact with each state facility operation cause its a large operation it needs to endorse its own National Infrastructure Bank and that is what the American Infrastructure needs. As a journalist you should grasp the moment to expand your topic beyond Hybrid Technology. We like the instant conversion possibility for Consumer's which demises as a need to enter into foundry operation and reclamation as outside investments, but we can create that for our own needs so its still not a business selling anything. In the same motion we can seek adequate energy sources which we are again using rather than selling yet we do not have to depend on never selling electricity we don't use ourselves and thus another asset opportunity is presented to the foundation which strives on three main assets. See my website for more details, click my name and go there to learn more. Offer advise and solutions if you wish. We need lots of Americans that are hungry for the solution right now to help to create this opportunity for all American Consumer's. I appreciate your concern, Audrey Amara.