Wednesday, June 3, 2009

plug-in cars, finally

Toyota recently announced that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (or PHEVs) would be available globally for lease by Wednesday.

Announced in 07, the prototypes were able to operate for about a distance of 7 miles on a lithium ion battery, and could recharge within a period of three to four hours from a 110 volt outlet. The motor generated about 50kW of power, enabling the car to operate up to 62 mph solely on electric power (beating their current models which kick the gas in at 25 mph).

The vehicle could operate in two modes, EV, and hybrid (like the current line). Popular Mechanics says:

"In EV mode the vehicle can run on electric power longer and with a more aggressive throttle input than in the hybrid mode. With an eye on the energy flow meter (basically a reprogrammed and updated version of what’s in the Prius now) we were able to accelerate up to approximately 50 mph and keep the car in electric mode all the way around the track. Like many owners do in the current Prius, we found ourselves playing the efficiency game of trying to keep the car in electric mode as long as possible. After two back-to-back laps, the monitor said we still had around 6 kilometers of battery life remaining. The most impressive part of the system was that it can take 1/4 to 1/2 throttle without engaging the gasoline engine. And that means for short 3 to 4 mile commutes, one could conceivably get to work and return home solely on electric power. The hybrid mode works much like the current car, engaging the internal combustion engine much sooner. This mode, it is presumed will be most applicable to long trips, when charging the battery isn’t an option. "

Toyota has stated that it is its goal to sell 1 million hybrid vehicles per year, starting next decade.

In the 19th century, steam power and the internal combustion engine were the technological luxuries of their time, and in the 20th century they were overthrown by electricity. Whether your alignments are environmental, technological, or what have you, the question of efficiency is one that affects all of us - technology has progressed at an exponential rate, why are we still allowing ourselves to be crippled by expensive, nearly 200 year-old technology?

via: here and here

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