Friday, July 25, 2008

Plug It In, America

General Motors announced in San Jose, CA on Monday that it would cooperate on research and development with 34 utilities to facilitate the plug in of electric hybrid motor cars in the US according to ENS. These vehicles can achieve up to 100 mpg of fuel economy by running primarily on electricity stored in on-board batteries, while using small combustion engines for recharging when not plugged into the grid. The announcement came at "Plug In 2008" the first conference dedicated to the marketing, research and development of plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. Widespread use of electric vehicles will require the US to upgrade and improve its aging electrical infrastructure. Cooperation between vehicle manufacturers and utilities will also be essential to insure that cars and consumers are compatible and utilities are able to handle the load. The cost of operating an electric hybrid in California is estimated to be less than one quarter the cost of gasoline. Electric cars reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and contribute to solving the climate crisis by drastically reducing CO2 emissions. Pollution will be even further reduced if the grid is made much more efficient and powered by renewable, clean energy. NRDC in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute released a study last year showing the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that can be achieved using PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles). View the findings here.

In a related development the University of Michigan's solar powered car, "Continuum" won the 2008 North American Solar Challenge. The flying saucer shaped car, powered entirely by the sun, won the 2400 mile race from Plano, Texas to Calgary, Alberta averaging 45 mph. The win was a comeback for the Michigan team whose car crashed at last year's race in Australia.
[image: Chevrolet Volt concept car. Read details about GM's PHEV at]