AQMD Orders 30 more PHEV

AQMD Orders 30 more PHEV

PHEVSouth Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is ordering 30 more plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) that are likely to achieve over 100 mpg. Ten will be Toyota (TM) Priuses converted to PHEV by Hymotion using A123 5kWh lithium nanophosphate polymer batteries. 20 will be Ford (F) Escapes converted to PHEV by Quantum (QTWW) using Advanced Lithium Power batteries.

Total investment in the 30 vehicles and charging stations will be $3,777,843. AQMD will contribute most of the money. The recent contract award gives AQMD participants the opportunity to make additional purchases of the awarded vehicles. The winning vendors will also participate in cost sharing. Award Details

South Coast AQMD has been a key force in facilitating the transition to clean transportation for the 16 million people that it serves in Southern California. Improving health and air quality are the primary motivations.

If you drive 10,000 miles per year, then you average about 27 miles per day. 80% of the time, a U.S. driver does not exceed 50 vehicle miles in one day. Since most U.S. households have two vehicles, millions could have one be an electric vehicle with a range of greater than 50 miles. The gasoline powered vehicle could take care of the occasional distance trips. Yet, families and friends resist the idea of sharing cars. Many also insist that each car be ready to go hundreds of miles on a moments notice.

Southern California is home to thousands of battery electric vehicles (BEV). Most are specialized utility vehicles limited in range and in speeds of 25 mph. New EVs with greater range and freeway speeds are coming from companies like Phoenix Motorcars and Tesla Motors.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) may be ideal for people who like the green benefits of running on electricity, but require extended range. PHEVs can potentially handle most trips in electric-only mode. The Priuses ordered by AQMD can only run in electric mode at speeds under 35 miles per hour.

AQMD has been achieving over 100 mpg in its test of a Toyota Priuses modified to be a PHEV using Valence batteries. AQMD has also seen success with two PHEV DaimlerChrysler Sprinter Vans. One uses NiMH batteries. The other Saft li-ion batteries. Five more PHEV Sprinter Vans are planned for carrying passengers. Major Southern California electric utilities and the City of Santa Monica have also been early owners of PHEVs.

The idea of plugging-in is not new. We are in the habit of recharging our mobile phone every night. Soon, we may also be recharging our vehicle every night. Hymotion is planning on making PHEV conversion kits available to consumers later in 2007. Hymotion is targeting a price of $9,500 installed for the Prius. PHEV enthusiasts are likely to convert. Since the conversions normally void Toyota and Ford factory warranties, many consumers will wait for the OEMs to make their own offerings. Fleet conversion kits are now offered. Green Car Congress Article

The 30 AQMD plug-in hybrid bid award winners are averaging over $100,000 per vehicle for several reasons: the larger Ford Escapes require more batteries, vehicle crash tests are required, 60-month warranties are provided, charging stations are included. Over the next few years, prices for PHEV and EV will fall.

PHEV awards are being made in increasing quantities. These financial awards and the successful implementation of the vehicles will encourage major automotive OEMs to start selling their own PHEVs. Toyota and GM have formally announced PHEV development. GM owns about 15% of Quantum, which in turn owns 19.9% of Advanced Lithium Power. No OEM has committed to a specific timeframe for PHEV commercial sales. Mitsubishi will start selling a commercial EV in 2010 in Japan; target price, under $20,000.

Plug-in hybrids are estimated to provide these well-to-wheels benefits over normal hybrids: 35% – 50% reduction in NOx and ROG; 45% – 65% reduction in petroleum; 30% – 45% reduction in greenhouse gases. Those savings are in California where most electricity is generated with natural gas and coal, but some with wind and geothermal. If you live where it all comes from coal, the environmental benefits are less. Plug-in hybrid technology can also be used with cleaner fuels resulting in future emission improvements.

AQMD is likely to place many of the new PHEVs where renewable energy is provided with wind, solar and renewable energy credits. Emission reductions will be greater in these locations.

According to the California Electric Transportation Coalition that commissioned a study, if automakers begin producing Plug-Ins within the next few years, 2.5 million cars (eight percent of the cars on the road) could be plug-ins by the year 2020. That’s the equivalent of taking as many as 5 million of today’s vehicles off the road. Annually, which means that 11.5 million tons of CO2 emissions won’t contribute to global warming and 1.14 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved each year.