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Old 08-17-2005, 04:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Experimental Prius Gets Up to 250 MPG

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Experimental Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 Mpg
CORTE MADERA, Calif. - Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage.
It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.

Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car.

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb all for about a quarter.

He's part of a small but growing movement. "Plug-in" hybrids aren't yet cost-efficient, but some of the dozen known experimental models have gotten up to 250 mpg.

They have support not only from environmentalists but also from conservative foreign policy hawks who insist Americans fuel terrorism through their gas guzzling.

And while the technology has existed for three decades, automakers are beginning to take notice, too.

So far, DaimlerChrysler AG is the only company that has committed to building its own plug-in hybrids, quietly pledging to make up to 40 vans for U.S. companies. But Toyota Motor Corp. officials who initially frowned on people altering their cars now say they may be able to learn from them.

"They're like the hot rodders of yesterday who did everything to soup up their cars. It was all about horsepower and bling-bling, lots of chrome and accessories," said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman. "Maybe the hot rodders of tomorrow are the people who want to get in there and see what they can do about increasing fuel economy."

The extra batteries let Gremban drive for 20 miles with a 50-50 mix of gas and electricity. Even after the car runs out of power from the batteries and switches to the standard hybrid mode, it gets the typical Prius fuel efficiency of around 45 mpg. As long as Gremban doesn't drive too far in a day, he says, he gets 80 mpg.

"The value of plug-in hybrids is they can dramatically reduce gasoline usage for the first few miles every day," Gremban said. "The average for people's usage of a car is somewhere around 30 to 40 miles per day. During that kind of driving, the plug-in hybrid can make a dramatic difference."

Backers of plug-in hybrids acknowledge that the electricity to boost their cars generally comes from fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases, but they say that process still produces far less pollution than oil. They also note that electricity could be generated cleanly from solar power.

Gremban rigged his car to promote the nonprofit CalCars Initiative, a San Francisco Bay area-based volunteer effort that argues automakers could mass produce plug-in hybrids at a reasonable price.

But Toyota and other car companies say they are worried about the cost, convenience and safety of plug-in hybrids and note that consumers haven't embraced all-electric cars because of the inconvenience of recharging them like giant cell phones.

Automakers have spent millions of dollars telling motorists that hybrids don't need to be plugged in, and don't want to confuse the message.

Nonetheless, plug-in hybrids are starting to get the backing of prominent hawks like former
CIA director James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney, President Reagan's undersecretary of defense. They have joined Set America Free, a group that wants the government to spend $12 billion over four years on plug-in hybrids, alternative fuels and other measures to reduce foreign oil dependence.

Gaffney, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy, said Americans would embrace plug-ins if they understood arguments from him and others who say gasoline contributes to oil-rich Middle Eastern governments that support terrorism.

"The more we are consuming oil that either comes from places that are bent on our destruction or helping those who are ... the more we are enabling those who are trying to kill us," Gaffney said.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Nick Cappa said plug-in hybrids are ideal for companies with fleets of vehicles that can be recharged at a central location at night. He declined to name the companies buying the vehicles and said he did not know the vehicles' mileage or cost, or when they would be available.

Others are modifying hybrids, too.

Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries. It is forming a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year, company vice president Greg Hanssen said.

University of California, Davis engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg. They were converted from non-hybrids, including a Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Suburban.

Frank has spent $150,000 to $250,000 in research costs on each car, but believes automakers could mass-produce them by adding just $6,000 to each vehicle's price tag.

Instead, Frank said, automakers promise hydrogen-powered vehicles hailed by
President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though hydrogen's backers acknowledge the cars won't be widely available for years and would require a vast infrastructure of new fueling stations.

"They'd rather work on something that won't be in their lifetime, and that's this hydrogen economy stuff," Frank said. "They pick this kind of target to get the public off their back, essentially."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050813/ap_ ... _tinkerers

Okay I admit it. Most of the benifit is plugging it in but it looks like those Lithium Ion batteries are a good idea saving weight, improving the regenerative capabilities, and being able to store more charge from home. I thought you might be interested in this.
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Old 08-17-2005, 08:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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One of my co-workers came up to me and said "Look, here is a car that gets twice as much as yours, and I'm telling you the same thing I told her.

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AGAIN.
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Old 08-17-2005, 09:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, it's going to get you extra mpg for the 20 miles the extra charge lasts but once it's dead, you've got a regular hybrid (with heavy batteries). I wouldn't mind a plug in charging system for the Insight as it would allow us to try for higher mpg without having to worry as much about recharging the battery. This would be a huge plus for MIMA users.

I can understand why Honda or Toyota didn't incorporate plug in charging systems so the stereotype of plug in electric vehicles could be avoided even if it could be a feasible.
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Old 08-17-2005, 11:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Experimental Prius Gets Up to 250 MPG

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Originally Posted by Infinitenothing
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Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries. It is forming a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year, company vice president Greg Hanssen said.
And therein lies the rub. While LiI have great power density and service life the price reflects it Doesn't take too much foresight to predict sales will be small



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Old 08-18-2005, 01:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AGAIN.
Exactly, and for details.....and dont forget to read between the lines.
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Old 08-18-2005, 02:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I like the plug in concept but there are two problems.

Assuming that a hybrid will travel 200,000 miles in its life, and assuming that it is an Insight getting 70 miles to the gallon, it will use 2,860 gallons of fuel. If we put in a battery system that doubles fuel efficiency for the first 20 miles per day, we save 3,600 dollars. at twenty miles per day , driving 365 days per year it will take 30 years to travel that distance. To break even, the batteries have to last that long. The system also has to cost less than 3,600 dollars and the car can not be driven more than twenty miles a day.

Second, if you live in the north that system has to cost 2,000 dollars or less due to the tremendous drop of efficiency in cold weather.

If the cost of gasoline doubles and battery costs are reduced by 90 percent, the plug in concept makes sense economically. Otherwise it is just for bragging rights or to save the world from pollution.

Still, I'd love it on my Insight.
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Old 08-18-2005, 06:41 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just to clear up a couple of issues....

The batteries in Ron Gremban's car are lead acid - not lithium - and this is why it only has a ~20 mile assist range. It is a development mule for the Prius+ group, a collection of non-profit based enthusiasts.

The Edrive systems car has been converted using Valence lithium-ion batteries. The 9 kWh or so allows an assist range of 50-60 miles which is well above the average daily commuting distance for most folk. Because the existing NiMH pack is removed, the conversion only adds 80kg in weight to the car and mileage doesn't suffer too badly with a depleted pack because the internal resistance is much lower than the standard kit, meaning greater regen efficiency etc.

There are several reasons why the Edrive conversion is so expensive right now ($12k). First, the conversion, the packs, the electrics, everything are hand built in tiny volumes (I think only two cars have been built so far). Second, they're a company, so they're out to recover their research costs and make a profit. Third, the Valence LiIons cost about $1,000 per kWh because these too are currently being made in very low volume. Valence themselves realise that for their battery to make it big in the automotive world it needs to be much cheaper, about $250 per kWh, and they reckon they can meet this target in the future with larger production volumes.

For what it's worth, other formats of lithium-ion battery that have already made it to large volume production have reached about $300 per kWh. This means that the battery costs of 9kWh storage would be about $2,700. Minus the $1,000 cost of the existing Prius NiMH pack and you've got a cost "to Toyota", should they begin to manufacture such a thing, of $1,700 over a current Prius.
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Old 08-18-2005, 01:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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"Otherwise it is just for bragging rights or to save the world from pollution."

What's so bad about saving the world from pollution?

But it's more than that. Go back and read the article again, and think about the consequences of giving your enemies money to buy weapons to use against you.
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Old 08-18-2005, 01:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by kapps
Yeah, it's going to get you extra mpg for the 20 miles the extra charge lasts but once it's dead, you've got a regular hybrid (with heavy batteries). I wouldn't mind a plug in charging system for the Insight as it would allow us to try for higher mpg without having to worry as much about recharging the battery. This would be a huge plus for MIMA users.

I can understand why Honda or Toyota didn't incorporate plug in charging systems so the stereotype of plug in electric vehicles could be avoided even if it could be a feasible.
To be fair, I drive 17 miles to work... for me... 20 miles would be enough (as long as I could find an outlet at work :twisted: ) Grocery stores are really close too. I think the 60 mile range on the Li system would work for most people.
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Old 08-18-2005, 01:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Calpod


One of my co-workers came up to me and said "Look, here is a car that gets twice as much as yours, and I'm telling you the same thing I told her.

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AGAIN.
Why? Whad-I miss. I get that the high mpg has limited range and that it increases your electric bill. But the electricity is made locally... not in the middle east. And another benifit- in different parts of the country, the electricity is made cleanly. And, the range is enough for most people. I get that it costs alot but (as with hybrid technology in general) there's always a premium to improving the enviornment. Global warming not a concern to you?
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