The DoE Offers $30 Million to Develop Plug-in Batteries ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: The DoE Offers $30 Million to Develop Plug-in Batteries

Friday, January 18, 2008

The DoE Offers $30 Million to Develop Plug-in Batteries

Plug-In Hybrid Electric PriusThe U.S. Dept of Energy announced $30 million in matching grants to improve battery performance so that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) can come to fruition. The US DoE wants to make plug-ins cost-competitive by 2014 and ready for commercialization by 2017.

The benchmark cited by the DoE and car makers is for a PHEV to be capable of 40 miles on electric power alone. After that the battery can be recharged through plugging it in or by the gas engine. The DoE believes 40 miles would cover most commutes and 70% of average driving.

"Selected projects will place PHEVs in small, geographically diverse fleets in order to collect operational data that will be used to evaluate and demonstrate the operational and economic viability of PHEVs in the marketplace," the Energy Department said in a news release.

The money will come out over the next three years. In 2008, the DoE is expecting to spend at least $7 million. The remaining $23 million will be doled out in 2009 and 2010. They are planning no funding at least four projects.

Car Makers and Plug-ins
AFS Trinity believes they could have a plug-in hybrid on the road by 2010. BYD Auto (Chinese auto maker) says they will have a plug-in hybrid in use next year, and may be importing plug-in hybrids into the U.S. by the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. Fisker wants the $80,000 Karma Plug-in Hybrid on the road by the end of 2009. GM has recently announced they expect both a plug-in Saturn Vue and the Chevy Volt out by 2010. Toyota is already road testing a plug-in Prius in Japan. Ford is also road testing plug-in hybrids. Even Google has jumped in on the plug-in bandwagon, with offering $10 million for to those who wish to promote or commercialize PHEVs.

Are Plug-ins in Demand?
But in the end, the question is will Americans buy a plug-in hybrid? Even Toyota, the leader in hybrid technology, is questioning the demand for plug-ins.

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