Can customers help bring Plug-In Hybrids onto the Market?
In San Francisco, the Pacific Gas & Electric company has a vision. It sees its 5 million customers in California pulling their cars into the garage in the evening and plugging them into a standard 120-volt standard electric socket to recharge.
The difference between standard Hybrids & Plug-in Hybrids
Basically, PHEVs use the same technology as the popular hybrids on the road today, but have a larger battery that can be recharged by plugging into a standard home outlet AND this technology is already available and functioning.
DaimlerChrysler is producing a Sprinter Van prototype with an all-electric range of 20 miles. Also on the road are existing standard hybrids that have been converted to plug-ins.
Key PHEV Attributes:
In coming weeks, PG&E customers will receive in their September bills an insert asking them to sign an online petition at a website designed by Plug-In Partners — a national group lobbying automakers to manufacture plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The petition basically says, “If you build it, we will buy it.”
Bob Howard PG&E vice president of gas transmission and distribution says, “Although PG & E is using PHEV prototypes, consumers can’t go to the local car dealer to get one because car manufacturers aren’t convinced there are enough buyers.”
Over 40 percent of the generating capacity in the U.S. sits idle or operates at a reduced load overnight, when most PHEVs would be charged. That means tens of millions of plug-ins could be charged every night without the need to build additional electricity generation capacity.
PG&E currently operates the 4th cleanest/largest low emission vehicle fleet in the country. As an official Plug-In Partner, the company has already pledged to car manufacturers that the company will buy PHEVs to make its vehicle fleet even cleaner.
According to the California Electric Transportation Coalition that commissioned a study, if car manufacturers begin producing Plug-Ins within the next few years, 2.5 million cars (eight percent of the cars on the road) could be Plug-Ins by the year 2020. That’s the equivalent of taking as many as 5 million of today’s vehicles off the road. Annually, which means that 11.5 million tons of CO2 emissions won’t contribute to global warming and 1.14 Billion gallons of petrol would be saved each year.
“Our customers have the power to help make Plug-Ins for the public a reality by simply saying they would consider buying one,” said Howard. “We hope they will join us and become a Plug-In Partner.”
NB A study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) – a ‘well to wheels analysis’ – has taken into account emissions from oil extraction, transportation, refining and distribution.
For Plug-In Hybrids, the emissions generated from power plants in charging the vehicles is included. The study concluded that widespread use of Plug-In Hybrids would bring significant reductions in both greenhouse gases and smog inducing pollutants with Plug-In Hybrids emitting less pollution than current Hybrids.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is a non-profit organisation committed to providing science and technology-based solutions of indispensable value to its global energy customers.