If you already own a hybrid car: If you use your car for commuting to work or driving around town, a plug-in hybrid acts as an electric car all the time you are driving. How important is that? Well, let’s put it this way: I am an electric vehicle purist at heart, and to transform the automobile market, we need more electric and fewer gasoline-powered cars.
You should convert your car simply because a plug-in hybrid electric car is one of the cleanest, most efficient, and most cost-effective forms of transportation around — and it is really fun to drive.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) combine the benefits of pure electric vehicles and those of hybrid electric vehicles. Like pure electric vehicles, they plug in to the electric grid and can be powered by the stored electricity alone. Like hybrid electric vehicles, they have engines that enable them to have a greater driving range and that can recharge the battery.
The cost of the electricity needed to power plug-in hybrids for all-electric operation has been estimated at less than one-quarter of the cost of gasoline.
Compared with conventional vehicles, PHEVs can reduce air pollution, dependence on petroleum, and the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Plug-in hybrids use no fossil fuel during their all-electric range if their batteries are charged from nuclear and renewable energy sources. Other benefits include improved national energy security, fewer fill-ups at the filling station, the convenience of recharging at home, opportunities to provide emergency backup power to the home, and vehicle-to-grid applications.
Clean the Environment at the Same Time!
July 2007 EPRI-NRDC Definitive Study: PHEVs Will Reduce Emissions If Broadly Adopted
In July 2007, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) did one report that included multiple studies on plug-in hybrids. The report stated that scientists have confirmed that, unlike gasoline cars, plug-ins will get cleaner as they get older — because our power grid is getting cleaner.
For people who are looking for the most effective way to end our addiction to oil, PHEVs make sense because carmakers can build them now, with today’s technology and using today’s infrastructure. The study showed that with the increase in the number of PHEVs on the road and the evolving characteristics of the power grid (in terms of capacity and carbon intensity), PHEVs will vastly reduce greenhouse gases over the next 40 years.
The second study showed that increased PHEV use will reduce greenhouse gases over the next 20 years; even if, in the worst-case scenario, we still use lots of coal, nationwide air quality in terms of other emissions will also improve.
Three more points: Both reports match up well with previous studies. They reinforce the Pacific National Lab’s January 2007 findings that we won’t have to build new power plants for cars that charge at night. And we’re gratified that General Motors recognizes this study as validation of its decision to evolve toward the electrification of transportation.
Plug-in kits add an additional battery and charging unit to specific Hybrid car model.
Plug-in conversion kits vary in their level of integration and features. Some plug-in kits simply extend the range of your hybrid when in EV mode (usually up to approx 45 km/h), other kits convert your hybrid to full electric vehicle capable of highway speeds under only electric power. Currently, the most popular Hybrid used for plug-in conversions is a Gen 2 Toyota Prius (2003-2009).
Hybrid Plug-in kits
These are the well known Hybrid Plug-in kits currently available (as at 11/05/2011):
CalCars is a rich source of information about Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. The California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org) is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup of entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and consumers promoting 100+MPG plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
Also refer to Prius Gen 2 Plug-in page to witness a local PHEV journey unfolding.