Sunday, November 19, 2006

Still Miles to Go for the Plug-In Vehicle

Matt Wald reports why the Plug-In Hybrid may get here later rather than sooner.
...if the plug-in goes four miles on a kilowatt-hour, and does its first 40 miles on electricity, the incremental cost would be about $20,000, but the saving is only about $15 a year larger than for the Prius-type vehicle.

...Ricardo Bazzarella, president of Hymotion, a Toronto company that sells conversion kits, said that gasoline would probably have to hit around $5 to get a four-year payback. So for the moment, his sales are limited to people who are interested in technology, not money.

...Cars for a plug-in hybrid are a different problem than batteries for cars like a Prius. Engineers evaluate batteries on two main characteristics: how much they will store and how fast they will accept or deliver energy. Prius batteries are more like a shot glass, accepting and delivering a small quantity very quickly.

The battery providing the sole source of power for an electric car is shaped more like a decanter, with a large volume delivered and accepted at slower rates per pound of battery.

But batteries that wore out too quickly — or proved capable of occasional fires, like the ones now being recalled from laptop use — would sour the public on the plug-in concept, experts say. It also has to make economic sense.

So, when will we see a market ready Plug-In hybrid vehicle? 2010? I doubt it. 2012? may be. 2015? likely?

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