New York state has embarked on a $10 million program to convert 574 hybrid vehicles in the state fleet to be plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). The converted vehicles will be able to achieve significantly higher mileage than the hybrids, in the range of 100 mpg. These vehicles operate on emissions-free battery power, for a significant portion of their operating time, with lower emissions of harmful pollutants, including greenhouse gases. This high mileage vehicle plan is part of the governor’s plan to reduce dependence on imported energy.
On December 20 the state showcased the first vehicle delivered under this program, a Prius using A123 batteries that was converted to a PHEV by Hymotion.
The vehicle is the first one delivered in phase one of a two-phase program conducted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Phase One plans call for the conversion of two Priuses, three Ford Escape SUVs and a Honda Civic for technical evaluation.
The second phase of the program will be to bulk-purchase the selected technologies for installation on the remaining hybrids in the State fleet. Phase One, with design and prototyping will cost up to a million dollars; Phase Two involves bulk conversions and is budgeted for up to $9 million.
NYSERDA received 16 proposals from 9 teams, 8 for Prius, 6 for Escape, and 2 for Civic. The four specialty contractors selected to participate in this program have considerable electric-vehicle experience. They are:
1) Hymotion of Concord, Ontario and A123 Systems of Watertown, Massachusetts converted the Prius that was showcased using A123 nanophosphate-based batteries. This team will also convert a Ford Escape SUV and a Honda Civic.
This solution incorporates batteries into a highly advanced, production-ready PHEV module that is lightweight, compact and requires minimal modification to the stock vehicle. All necessary components and safety features are integrated and contained within the module, including batteries, power electronics, charger, battery management system, safety sensors and manual-electric interlock. Due to its plug and play installation, the system does not require removal of the OEM battery pack.
2) The second Prius will be converted by Energy CS of Monrovia, California using Valence lithium ion batteries with phosphate-based cathodes.
This description applies to their commercial offering which I expect will be similar to the NYSERDA vehicle. It replaces the existing Prius NiMH battery and Toyota battery control computer with a larger advanced lithium-ion battery and a proprietary battery monitoring and control system developed by EnergyCS. The new system allows the Prius to be charged at home using a standard 110/120V home outlet. With the larger battery, the Prius can run in electric only 'EV' mode at lower speeds or when less power is needed. The result is EV driving and electrically boosted gasoline driving for the first 50 or so miles with a gasoline efficiency of over 100mpg. After the 50 mile 'boosted' range, the vehicle performs just like a standard Prius until it is plugged in again. The battery system is approximately 50% larger than the Toyota NiMH battery and is installed under the rear cargo carpet without limiting access to the spare tire. A small display is mounted on the dashboard.
3) Another Ford Escape will be converted by Elecytrovaya of Ballston Spa and Mississauga, Ontario using lithium ion polymer batteries it has developed.
No information was found on their offering. They have produced the Maya 100 EV, a four passenger vehicle which uses their battery, has a 230 mile range and has a top speed (regulated) of 80 mph.
4) The third Ford Escape will be converted by Hybrids Plus of Boulder, Colorado using A123 batteries.
Their press release does not indicate any technical details of their project but offers the following: After converting the Ford Escape Hybrid the PHEV conversion kit will undergo testing and qualification for deployment in the New York State-owned vehicle fleet, and Hybrids Plus will be positioned to offer PHEV conversions to NYSERDA and other owners of hybrid SUV models, a major market in the USA.
They currently offer PHEV conversions of Prius's with 15 or 30 mile electric range, using A123 batteries.
The vehicles will be delivered during the first quarter of 2007 for testing and evaluation by NYSERDA staff and consultants, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy. Once the vehicles have proven reliable, they will be placed in fleet service over the second quarter of 2007, for use by various State agencies.
This is the most important announcement I have seen regarding the implementation of PHEV technology. It will place A123 and Elecytrovaya batteries on the street for the first time and allow evaluation of their performance under real world conditions. Its too bad that Altairnano did not win a contract, but the Phoenix Motor Cars vehicles will do that. CalCars says their are now 24 vehicles converted to PHEVs, (11 by Energy CS) and this project will add another 574. After this maybe Plug-In Partners will have some leverage to move their program foreward and then all we have to do is wait for commercial vehicles-it sounds like the Saurn Vue PHEV may be the first on the street.