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Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Honda Civic, Hybrid Cars
#282 of 330 Nice cost per mile....
Jun 13, 2008 (10:38 am)
Have we reached a tipping point with gas at $1.35 a litre, and rising? Are consumers so fed up that they're finally adjusting their behaviour?
In the past, we complained but did nothing, preferring instead to condemn those evil oil companies and demand that the government keep gas prices artificially low.
This time it's different. The long-term trend toward high prices is clear. And the planned closure of a General Motors truck and SUV plant in Oshawa is a strong sign that the days of gas guzzlers are numbered.
Last week, I had the opportunity of test driving a vehicle that, in a variety of driving scenarios, uses considerably less gasoline than conventional cars. When booting around the city, it almost uses no gas at all. Instead, it relies mostly on electricity from the grid. Just plug into a wall socket overnight and you're ready to go in the morning.
Interested? You should be – it could be the kind of car sitting in your driveway 10 years, even five years, from now.
It's called a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV. The one I drove for six days was a 2004 Toyota Prius that had been retrofitted with a lithium-ion battery pack and a charging outlet on the back bumper.
Unlike a regular Prius, which has a smaller nickel-metal hydride battery that's recharged by the engine and by capturing braking energy, this Prius uses electricity from the grid to displace gasoline use.
Concord-based Hymotion did the retrofit, using batteries from Boston-area company A123 Systems, which is now Hymotion's parent company. It's the same battery technology being considered by General Motors for its Volt electric car, which is scheduled for commercial release in 2010, and a plug-in hybrid version of its Saturn Vue SUV.
For drives within the city, each trip ranging from 10 to 20 kilometres, I generally got fuel economy better than two litres per 100 kilometres. Sometimes it went much higher, and only once – during a long highway trip – was mileage more typical of a standard Prius.
Over the six days, I used 22.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity to keep the battery charged. Using Bullfrog Power, it cost me $3.83 for the power – with electricity, delivery, special charges and taxes all combined. With Bullfrog, when the car was in electric mode, it was truly emission-free.
#283 of 330 CA Hybrid HOV decals
Jun 15, 2008 (7:26 am)
Can anyone tel me when will the car pool lane sticker program for the Hybrid cars expire in California?
#285 of 330 Re: Battery testing going very well [larsb]
Jun 16, 2008 (8:07 am)
"The whole program was subsidized."
Sorry, but the fact is that GM lost $1 billion dollars on the EV1 program.
#286 of 330 Re: Battery testing going very well [nedzel]
Jun 16, 2008 (8:35 am)
I did not say "GM did not lose/spend any of their own money" but the point is: They had a huge guvmint bankroll to develop the technology and they could have ended the program in a more beneficial manner than "collect and crush."
#287 of 330 Re: Battery testing going very well [larsb]
Jun 16, 2008 (11:16 am)
In all fairness to GM they did put the EV-1 out into the hands of the public. What did Chrysler do with their share of the money spent on the diesel hybrid? Did we ever see any being field tested? I am sure that Ford shared in the PNGV corporate welfare, what did they produce?
I was sad they crushed the EV-1s myself. I do understand GM not wanting to be responsible after they were shot down by CARB on the ZEV mandate.
You may see Tesla go by the wayside also after the CA lawmakers pulled most of the incentives to keep going with their EVs.
#288 of 330 Even at a 'YOTA DEALERSHIP now !!!
Jun 16, 2008 (12:15 pm)
Looks like A123 systems has a conversion plan, and a good one.
'Yota Corporate is not happy about it, however !!!
Get your conversion at a 'Yota dealership !!!
Four dealerships in the United States are converting the Toyota Prius into a plug-in hybrid using lithium-ion batteries.
Toyota dealerships in four U.S. metropolitan areas are offering to convert customers' Priuses into plug-in hybrids, using technology from the battery maker A123 Systems.
The arrangement provides the strongest indication yet that lithium-ion battery technology is ready for mainstream automotive use.
A123, of suburban Boston, is among the four battery companies General Motors is considering to supply the Chevrolet Volt. GM wants the plug-in hybrid car on the market in 2010.
Lithium-ion batteries are seen as key to electrification of the automobile. The industry is debating whether the batteries can withstand mass production and daily use by motorists.
The Tesla Roadster, an all-electric $100,000 car that uses lithium-ion batteries, is on sale. But it is widely viewed as an expensive exotic vehicle for a few enthusiasts.
About 600,000 Priuses are on U.S. highways. The hybrid car's base sticker price is $22,160, including shipping.
How many Prius owners will spend $10,000 to convert the cars to plug-in power is unknown. A123 wants Congress to provide a tax credit of $2,500 to $3,000 to Prius owners who make the conversion.
Leslie Goldman, an attorney who represents A123 in Washington, said more than 1,000 Prius owners are on a waiting list for the conversion.
The technology "is ready for prime time," said Goldman, who has been driving a converted Prius prototype for about 18 months.
Felix Kramer, an expert on plug-in hybrids, said he believes the A123 conversion will perform satisfactorily. It uses lithium-phosphate, which does not have the same risk of overheating and exploding as some other lithium chemistries, Kramer said.
A123 does not want to jeopardize its future business supplying batteries to automakers for new vehicles, added Kramer, founder of the California Cars Initiative.
Toyota is unhappy about the conversions but said its dealerships are independent businesses that can do what they want.
#289 of 330 Re: 'Yota trying to beat the Volt to market? [gagrice]
Jun 18, 2008 (9:57 am)
For me, I will not live to be old enough to feel comfortable with any Lithium Ion hybrid in my garage.
Yet you are comfortable with a Li-ion laptop in your house. If your concerned about a fire I'm sure the battery pack in a laptop is big enough to get the job done.
#290 of 330 Re: 'Yota trying to beat the Volt to market? [tpe]
Jun 18, 2008 (10:18 am)
I don't leave it plugged in over night. I also check all the recalls from Dell. The Li-Ion is a big disappointment in laptop longevity also. There is also a difference between 6 -12 cells and 6000+ cells in a car. The odds on one overheating is much greater with the bigger pack. My laptop does not require an AC unit to keep the batteries cool. What happens when it is like today 100 degrees and the car is out in the sun plugged in to get charged up? I am sure they will give it a good test out in the desert.
#291 of 330 Re: 'Yota trying to beat the Volt to market? [gagrice]
Jun 18, 2008 (10:57 am)
To my knowledge Tesla is the only known EV manufacturer that is stringing together thousands of laptop batteries. I personally don't think it was/is a good idea and believe it is one of several things Tesla would do differently if they could turn back the clock a few years. These other manufacturers are using fewer but larger format cells that implement multiple layers of safeguards. Even my cell phone is smart enough to power down if it is too hot. I know this because I've left it in my car on a hot day. Of all the question marks surrounding Li-ion batteries for vehicles I believe that the engineers have succeeded in making safety a non-issue.