The Southern California Air Quality Management District (AQMD) has decided to acquire and to test an Energy CS plug-in Prius (earlier post) in addition to the fleet of 35 Priuses it is converting to hydrogen-fueled combustion engine-hybrid drives (earlier post).
This plug-in project complements another plug-in hybrid (PHEV) initiative by AQMD in testing five PHEV commercial vans (the DaimlerChrysler Sprinter).
The decision came during the AQMD board meeting in May; the district is now awaiting production and delivery of the vehicle.
The rationale for the project mirrors larger discussions in the sustainable transportation marketplace about hydrogen and nearer-term steps.
A more near-term solution [than hydrogen] is to rely on well-developed, lower-cost technology, specifically lithium-ion batteries and hybrid electric drive technology.
This battery-dominant strategy increases battery capacity and electric motor utilization to provide true zero-emission miles, which increases vehicle range, reduces fuel consumption, and decreases the role of the engine or fuel cell. When used in ICE vehicles, the battery-dominant strategy also decreases tailpipe emissions.
Because the battery packs must be grid-recharged to fully utilize the electric motor and zero-emission range capability, these vehicles are called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
|AQMD Plug-in Prius Costs (not including the car)|
|* plus in-kind cost of vehicle|
(funding & in-kind development)
(funding & in-kind demonstration)
(in-kind performance testing)
(funding & in-kind development)
(in-kind emissions testing)
Overall costs for the project—which will ultimately result in the deployment of four plug-in hybrids for testing—are estimated to be some $539,000, borne by AQMD, EnergyCS, CalCars, Clean-Tech, Southern California Edison, Valence Batteries, the City of Santa Monica, and CARB.
The basics of the project are as follows:
EnergyCS will engineer, design, and optimize of the PHEV replacement system, using a Valence Saphion lithium-ion battery pack (with approximately 9 kWh of energy storage) to replace the OEM NiMH battery.
Once the system has been designed and tested, the demonstration phase will consist of installing the system on test vehicles to further optimize the system and ensure the emissions are maintained at SULEV levels.
These vehicles will be demonstrated by CalCars, the City of Santa Monica, EVO Transportation Corp., and the AQMD, with each entity providing a vehicle as in-kind cost-share. The entire project is anticipated to conclude within one year of initiation.
Clean-Tech, a transportation integrator, will assist in the design migration from demonstration to commercialization, with a focus on eventual sale as a conversion system. (Clean-Tech and EnergyCS have created EDrive, a joint venture to commercialize the plug-in technology. Earlier post.)
The technical goals of the project include optimization of battery performance and life, maintenance and expansion of the EV mode, double the fuel economy of the conventional HEV, and seamless driver experience from a standard Toyota Prius.
AQMD’s staff recommendation was enthusiastic about the potential:
Successful completion of this project will result in growing recognition of the business value of PHEVs and increase consumer demand for PHEVs. This project also has the potential for wide application if commercialized due to the popularity of the Toyota Prius vehicle.
Increasing zero emissions miles [i.e., miles under electric drive] and doubling the fuel economy of the current Prius population would have dramatic effects on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, energy diversity, and technology advancement.
Furthermore, the conversion system may also have application to other Toyota hybrid vehicles, namely the Ford Escape HEV which uses the Toyota technology, as well as the hydrogen hybrid conversions authorized by the Governing Board in March 2004 as part of the “Five Cities” hydrogen ICE project.
(A hat-tip to Jack Rosebro!)