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Auto, Electricity Sectors Collaborate on Plug-in Hybrids

SAN JOSE, California, July 22, 2008 (ENS) – General Motors and 34 utilities have agreed to collaborate with the Electric Power Research Institute on research and development to facilitate integration of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles into the power grid. Plug-in hybrids can average nearly 100 miles per gallon using a combination of electricity and gasoline.

The collaboration was announced today in San Jose at the Plug-in 2008 Conference – the first convention and expo to explore technical advances, challenges and market research on electric transportation.

The partners agreed to accelerate large-scale deployment of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, and to create a blueprint for an electric fuel infrastructure.

An independent, nonprofit organization, the Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI, conducts research and development for the global electric power industry.

Arshad Mansoor, EPRI’s vice president of power delivery and utilization, said, “Seamless integration of PHEVs into the electric grid will require close collaboration between the automobile and electric sectors.”

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle shares the characteristics of both conventional hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles, having an internal combustion engine as well as batteries for power.


A plug-in hybrid makes the
most of every gallon of gas.
(Photo by Steve Jurvetson)

The cost for electricity to power plug-in hybrids for all-electric operation in California has been estimated at less than one quarter of the cost of gasoline.

Compared to conventional vehicles, PHEVs can reduce air pollution and dependence on petroleum, and lessen greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Research released last year by EPRI and the Natural Resources Defense Council showed the potential of PHEVs to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The PHEV environmental assessment is available on the EPRI website at www.epri-reports.org

“Electrically powered vehicles are going to provide tremendous benefit and excitement for the customer, while also hastening the move to a more diverse choice of energy alternatives,” said Jon Lauckner, General Motors vice president of global programs.

“But we know that there are some key elements that need to be understood and put in place so customers can enjoy those benefits and get maximum use of these vehicles when we bring them to market,” said Lauckner. “That’s why this relationship with EPRI and the utility partners is so important.”

The collaborating partners also will address issues that ensure safe and convenient vehicle charging, public education, and public policies requirements to enable a smooth introduction of PHEVs as a transportation alternative to conventional vehicles.

“This research program will help link a low-carbon generation portfolio and a smart grid, which in turn will facilitate widespread adoption of electricity as an alternative transportation fuel,” Mansoor said.

“PHEVs have the potential of creating tremendous value for society by use of lesser emitting and lower cost electricity,” he said.

Exhibitors at the conference are showcasing the latest innovations associated with PHEVs and supporting electricity infrastructure – vehicles, batteries, powertrains, smart meters and grid management tools, and vehicle-to-home applications.

To date, plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles are not yet in production. However, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Chinese automaker BYD Auto, California startups Fisker Automotive and Aptera Motors, and Volkswagen have announced their intention to introduce production PHEV automobiles.

Most PHEVs on the road in the United States are conversions of 2004 or later Toyota Prius models, which have had plug-in charging added and their electric-only range extended.

Most PHEVs are passenger cars, but there are also PHEV versions of commercial passenger vans, utility trucks, school buses, motorcycles, scooters, and military vehicles.

Participants in the newly announced collaboration include Alabama Power, American Electric Power, Austin Energy, BC Hydro, CenterPoint Energy, Consolidated Edison of New York, Dominion, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, FirstEnergy Corp., Georgia Power, Great River Energy, Hydro-Québec, Manitoba Hydro, Nebraska Public Power District, New York Power Authority, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Progress Energy, Public Service Electric & Gas Co., Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison Co. and Southern Company.

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