Monday, September 24, 2007

Beats Corn-a-Hole by...Oh...100 MPG

Think that only the Japanese are working hybrids?

Think again.

Hybrids Plus Inc., founded last year in Boulder, Colo., lashes together up to 1,200 lithium-ion cells the size of D batteries into pumped-up battery systems that can be charged in wall outlets. "In daily usage, we're seeing numbers as high as 137 miles per gallon," says CEO Carl Lawrence. Even with their Rocky Mountain-high cost—refitting a Prius can cost $24,000—the conversions are drawing interest from wealthy techies who gain psychological satisfaction from using less gas. (This is Boulder, after all.)

Even better:

Widespread use of plug-in hybrids would be good news for utilities, which could sell the juice at night during periods of low demand. EnergyCS, a 13-person engineering shop in Monrovia, Calif., is developing an electronic and software system that would allow plug-in hybrids to charge batteries efficiently. One of its clients: the giant utility Pacific Gas & Electric. In April, PG&E used a hybrid to demonstrate an application of V2G technology. V2G isn't a category on Craigslist. It stands for vehicle-to-grid: In addition to drawing power from the energy system, hybrids can theoretically provide the power stored in their batteries to the electrical grid. Should V2G come to fruition, on a sweltering August day, you could run your air conditioner off your Ford Escape.

There is this practical problem:

Naturally, cost is an issue. It takes 64 years of gas savings to pay off the extra investment a Hybrids Plus conversion entails. But these entrepreneurial initiatives function as demonstration projects for risk-averse big companies, which know how to reduce costs through mass production. In August, A123Systems signed a deal with GM to help develop a fuel cell for the Chevy Volt. GM believes a plug-in hybrid like the Volt, which could be in showrooms by 2009, could render the average daily commute—about 40 miles—gas-free.

Not to worry. The Legislature and the Governor will raise the taxes on electricity and sunlight ASAP.

HT: The Big Picture

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