article: Plug-in Hybrid

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Tweaked hybrid gets 80 miles per gallon
By Tim Molloy Associated Press
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-size 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. On the Net:
CalCars Initiative: calcars.org
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Jason wrote:

that's one of the dumbest articles i've ever seen. where do these idiots thing the "plug in" energy comes from? just pull out the gas motor & replace entirely with batteries! then it's an infinite mpg vehicle. thanks for the laugh.
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What's dumb is your failure to consider the actual costs here.
It appears he spends 25 cents to fully charge his car's batteries. Then he gets 20 miles of driving using the battery-gasoline combo, achieving presumably "80 miles per gallon of gasoline." So 20/80 = 1/4 gallon of gasoline was used to drive 20 miles. At $2.40 per gallon, he paid 60 cents for that 1/4 gallon. Overall cost to travel 20 miles with this car: 85 cents.
By contrast, with my 40 mpg conventional Honda Civic, I pay $1.20 . He's paying only 85/120 = ~ 70% of what I pay. Those who drive cars and "trucks" getting only 27.5 MPG (the CAFE standard for passenger cars?) pay $1.75 for the 20 mile trip. Mr. Hybrid Engineer (in the article) pays less than half this.
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Elle wrote:

what's dumb is contending you have an 80mpg vehicle when you don't. may as well just go for the big kahuna and eliminate the gas entirely.
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The problem with electric (only) vehicles was that people and companies worried that the electric vehicles would run out of power and would have to be towed home or to a place were the drivers could plug them in. With a "Plug-in" hybrid car--the people and companies that own them would NEVER have to worry about these issues.
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Read the article.
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Have any of these hackers crash tested their vehicles?
I wonder what a rear end collision into a rear end filled with wet cell lead-acid batteries would do?
Also, where exactly is the electricity for these things supposed to come from? My home electric bill in the summer here in Northern California already is getting close to $500/month when the heat waves hit, and that is with solar energy taking care of all of our domestic hot water.
I really do not want to buy expensive electricity from PG&E for my automobiles as well!
John
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The guy in the article only used LA cells for initial tests;he then switched to NiMH. Others are using Li-ion cells.

Safe,clean nuclear power plants. Time to build more of them.

It would be a lot cheaper than buying gasoline.
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Ever heard of the nuclear waste problem?
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Yes,one more part that has been stifled and progress halted by the anti- nuke idiots.
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Would you like a nuclear waste dump in your town?
Would you recommend living near a nuclear waste dump to your child, nephew, pregant relative?
If you answer yes to these then more power to you but you'll be the first person I've met that does.
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If the stuff is properly immobilized and shielded, why not?
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In the county where I live, there is a nuclear power plant that stores nuclear waste above ground in pools of water. I visited the plant several years ago. I saw what looked like 4 huge swimming pools. Our guide told us the nuclear waste was stored in the bottom of each of those pools of water. They would prefer to store it in other areas but environmentalists won't let them move it due to security and safety concerns. I should note that no people have ever died as a result of the nuclear waste stored in our county. Jason
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com (Jason) wrote in

Those are less than the same concerns for on-site storage. More sites that have better chances of being attacked or burgled.
The "environmentalists" and NIMBY's actually are decreasing the country's security by opposing Yucca Mtn.They also harm the environment more by opposing nuclear power generation,thus using more carbon-based fuels that have far worse effects on the environment.

Yes,environmentalists would rather more people die from mining coal or producing petroleum,along with the negative health effects on citizens in using those products all across the country.
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The irony is that there are many nuclear waste dumps across the nation right now because of this attitude. Rather than sensibly storing the waste where it will be less likely to be a problem, we have it distributed all over the country. The fear of nuclear waste baffles me. You can easily detect it and deal with it. The effects are known and understood. Many of the same people who are so afraid of nuclear energy and waste don't realize that they have much more hazardous products nearby that they will never even know about. I grew up in the midst of chemical plants in Louisiana and would trade a nuclear plant or storage facility for that in a second. You can detect radiation easily. Do you know what you are breathing as a result of the nearby plants and even the chemicals in use in your home? The relative environmental impact of nuclear energy compared to even the cleanest of fossil fuel generation or petro-chemical production is so small that I have to wonder about the intelligence of those who are so petrified by it. Geez, even many of the products that are produced and used everyday in the chemical industry are more dangerous and impact more people than nuclear waste.
Leonard
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Wouldn't it be better to clean up the chemical plant?
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Chemical or other types of plants are MORE dangerous to people than nuclear power plants. More people die from petro or coal production than from nuclear power generation.
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Of course. The point is people are so fearful of nuclear plants and waste that we know exactly how to detect and secure while they wallow in toxics of all natures and hardly complain at all. You try to clean up the mess of chemicals in Lousiana, Houston and dozens of other areas that are highly industrialized and let us know how far you get. Also, see if you can build a cheap detector to identify the presence of any of the hundreds of hazardous compounds the plants emit. You don't even know what to look for. With nuclear we know exactly what to look for and how to secure it. I'd rather deal with a known than an unknown.
By comparison to fossil fuel plants, nuclear is exceptionally clean and safe.
Leonard
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Leonard, I agree with you. The environionmentalists (sp??) in California are preventing loggers from thinning out the forests by cutting down the largest trees and brush and leaving behind the smaller trees. The end result are forest fires that destroy the entire forest. They won't even allow the forest service workers to build fire roads into the forests. I care about the environment but I agree with the loggers and forest service. It's better to manage the forests instead of waiting for the forests to be destroyed by forest fires. I also agree that nuclear power plants are safer for the environment than power plants that burn fossil fuels. I feel sorry for anyone that lives near one of those power plants. Jason
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Chemical plants often have ACCIDENTS;releases of toxic chemicals. Remember Bhopal,India? And trains derail and spill LOTs of chemical tanker loads.

The enviros tend to overloook or ignore the deaths and harm done by mining coal and producing oil,it's just a fear of things nuclear.

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