Mass Will Test Plug-In Hybrids ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Mass Will Test Plug-In Hybrids

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mass Will Test Plug-In Hybrids

Massachusetts is getting into the plug-in game by retrofitting 10 of their state owned hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The Leading by Example Program sponsored by the state will put the bid out in the fall. The most likely candidate to win the bid, and the one who had a representative standing right next to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles when he announced the program, is A123Systems which is located in Waltham, MA.

Secretary Bowles will be one of those who gets to trade in his state vehicle, a 2003 Ford Taurus, for the new plug-in hybrid.

The conversions are expected to cost between $8,000 to $10,000 for each vehicle.

According to the Press Release (see below) the new plug-in hybrid for Bowles "is projected to save 500 gallons of gasoline, avoid $1,000 in operating costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5 tons, with additional reductions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and particulates, over the course of a year."

Seen at GCC

BOSTON – Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles today announced a pilot project to introduce Plug-in Hybrid technology in the state vehicle fleet. Achieving up to 100 miles per gallon, plug-in hybrid cars advance the Patrick Administration’s clean energy goals of saving energy costs, reducing emissions, and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. The announcement was made today at the AltWheels festival on Boston City Hall Plaza.

"Massachusetts-developed clean energy research and development can lead us to breakthrough vehicle technology and respond to consumer demand with cars that get 100 miles per gallon," said Secretary Bowles.

Secretary Bowles will be trading in his current state car – a 2003 Ford Taurus that gets 20 miles per gallon – for a Toyota Prius already in the state fleet that will be modified to become a plug-in electric/gasoline hybrid. Plug-in hybrids use the power stored on a rechargeable battery to reduce the use of gasoline in the hybrid engine, giving a motorist who drives 40 miles a day mileage of up to 150 miles per gallon.

As part of its Leading by Example Program, the Commonwealth will retrofit 10 gasoline hybrids – ranging from sedans to SUVs – currently owned by state agencies to plug-in operation, in order to test and demonstrate the new technology. The conversions are expected to cost $8,000 to $10,000 per vehicle.

Plug-in hybrids can be charged overnight when electricity demand is low, then use the stored energy to allow the car’s hybrid engine to run on electricity, rather than gasoline, more of the time. The car’s battery takes four to six hours to charge, drawing about the same amount of electricity as it would take to run a standard in-room air conditioner for that time.

While electricity generation in Massachusetts is not pollution free, the overall impact of switching to a plug-in hybrid car is a major reduction in both pollution and fuel costs. By swapping his Ford Taurus for a plug-in Prius, Secretary Bowles is projected to save 500 gallons of gasoline, avoid $1,000 in operating costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5 tons, with additional reductions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and particulates, over the course of a year.

Based on advanced battery technology developed in Massachusetts, plug-in hybrids are not yet available commercially, though conversion is expected to be introduced as an after-market option sometime next year. Through this pilot project, the Commonwealth is hoping to speed the commercialization of this cutting-edge technology.

At the AltWheels Festival, Secretary Bowles made the announcement flanked by a test plug-in Prius on loan for the occasion from A123Systems, a leading high-power lithium ion battery manufacturer based in Watertown. Through its Hymotion division, A123 manufactures battery modules that can convert existing hybrids into plug-in hybrids. A123 is expected to seek a contract to convert state vehicles in the pilot project through the public procurement process. A Request For Proposals will be released this fall.

"State involvement in fleet programs is a crucial step in the advancement and acceptance of next-generation green vehicle technologies," said Ric Fulop, founder and Vice President of Business Development for A123Systems. "I couldn’t be more pleased that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is showing leadership with this program."

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