The movie Who Killed the Electric Car? (just out on dvd) gave an excellent review of the history of the development of the electric car in the 90’s and its subsequent demise. Much is explained also about the debate over hydrogen technology. At the film’s conclusion, the development of hybrid technology is discussed with a glimmer of hope in the idea for a plug in hybrid.
Hybrids today store energy from braking and reuse that energy for low speed travel. Hybrid’s such as the Civic and the Prius use NiMH batteries that try to maintain a level of a 60% charge in order to maintain their battery life. These hybrid’s batteries will only store enough energy to travel short distances.
A group called Cal Cars has begun a project to convert the Toyota Prius into a plug in version. This modification allows for the Prius to be plugged in over night and then travel mostly on battery power. This greatly improves the fuel economy of the hybrid during the time that the battery power is in use. Unlike pure electric cars, the Plug-In Prius can still be fueled up for longer trips. The plug-in hybrid offers the best of both worlds offering a great opportunity for the future.
Cal Cars is trying to grow the idea of the Plug In Hybrid and convince auto mobile manufactures of its viability. For more info go to http://www.calcars.org/priusplus.html.