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Advanced Hybrid Vehicle Development Consortium Targets Plug-Ins

Four companies have created a new cooperative research and development consortium intended to develop a working prototype of a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that may achieve 100–200 mpg US with the ability to operate in an all-electric, zero-emission mode for the first 20–50 miles.

The founders expect that the Advanced Hybrid Vehicle Development Consortium (AHVDC) will grow to include key component suppliers who will work together with participating automobile manufacturers to coordinate the development of key components and to demonstrate these advanced technologies in an electric-motor dominant, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

The four founders of the AHVDC are:

  • Raser Technologies, a technology licensing company that develops and licenses advanced electric motor, electric motor drive and related technologies

  • Maxwell Technologies, a leading developer and manufacturer of ultra capacitor-based energy storage and power delivery solutions (earlier post)

  • Electrovaya, a leader in lithium-ion polymer battery technologies, and the makers of the Maya electric vehicle (earlier post)

  • A leading gas and electric utility based in San Francisco

The founders anticipate building the prototype PHEVs with off-the-shelf automobile components and available advanced hybrid technologies. The first proof-of-concept hybrid vehicle will demonstrate that the benefits of a PHEV can be achieved in a manufacturable design that meets consumer price and performance objectives, delivers better fuel economy and provides environmental benefits.

At current prices, a PHEV-20 (20-mile electric range) and an advanced PHEV-50 (50-mile electric range) vehicle may operate for some $0.60 per equivalent gallon of gas (using electricity) and based on driving style and range.

Utah Senator Orrin hatch chimed in with support for the announcement. (Raser is a Utah-based company.)

As the author of the CLEAR ACT, the provision in the energy bill promoting the use of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, this is exactly the kind of industry innovation we were seeking in the energy bill. This consortium will help American automakers become more competitive by accelerating the development of new technologies necessary for the next generation of hybrid vehicles.

—US Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)


Robert McLeod

What plug-ins and hybrids in general need now is a feebate program -- a combination of gas guzzler tax and dainty fuel sipper rebate that is a zero-sum deal. This could help offset the higher capital costs associated with hybrid technologies, while maintaining the operating cost advantages.

Harvey D

Robert McLeod is on the right track but; how will the politicians look at it, vote wise. All government programs are designed to attract the most votes not to reduce oil consumption and pollution. The American public must apply enough political and economical pressure to overcome the Oil and Big Three gas guzzler makers lobbies by refusing to buy the four-wheel monsters they produce and buy available Hybrids now and Plug-in Hybrids as soons as availble. Austin City is leading the way. Other groups, cities, states etc should be incited to follow.

With reference to the 4-way consortium above, A good motor/generator maker is missing. HONDA would be an excellent partner to supply the small, light weight, high performance 8 to 10 Kw motor/generator required to extend the range from 100 to 500 miles for the occassional long trips. Having a major car manufacturer on-board would give the group the credibility and access to essential engineering and know-how.


The concept car has already been developed by Energy CS, and Valence. And it is coming to market in Early 2006. It is a modification kit for the Prius to extend milage to between 120 - 180 mpg. Give us something new. Like a way to have it mass produced so that the price comes down.


^ multiple groups working on a problem will often solve parts in different ways, and the end result can be a cheaper product. Hopefully this group comes up with some ideas that serve to lower the total cost of the conversion kit.


I asked this question previously: Where is the advantage in hauling around an engine and generator that isn't used 70-90% of the time? Why not manufacture a straight electric with a 20-50 mile range with a genset trailer?

Jesse Jenkins

Looks like a good set of companies here although I agree with Harvey D: they could really use a major auto manufacturer onboard here. Toyota or Honda seem to be the obvious choices. I'm sure they are talking with Toyota/Honda and perhaps we'll hear a welcome announcement soon.

All-in-all, this is promising news for the future of plug-in HEVs. We need something more than an aftermarket modification kit for the Prius that costs, what, $10,000-12,000?! I want to see PHEVs for sale at my local car dealer!


It must be noted that this vehicle is not quite a ZEV, regardless of operating mode; it will have evaporative emissions unless the fuel system is bone-dry.

Tom, I see your point but it's a convenience issue; nobody is going to want to have to rush home to hook up the trailer when they get notice that they have to be somewhere far away.  The hassles of backing, licensing of the trailer and other things are all negatives.

Felix Kramer

It will probably be some time before an OEM is involved with the Consortium: the point is to create some of the supplier infrastructure to facilitate the entry into the market of automakers.

Here's what I posted to the CalCars-News Archive about the announcement:

This is a major development that we think will speed the commercialization of PHEVs.

We've had conversations with the initiators of this Consortium. Although it may not be fully evident from this press release, our understanding is that their intent is to create a non-exclusive partnership of component suppliers -- multiple vendors of systems for energy storage, propulsion (motors, engines, power and drive trains), control and management, and integration services -- working with multiple Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs, the car companies).

As CalCars continues with its technology development and advocacy projects, we expect to work together with the Consortium in many areas.


Just a question, is it possible to build a full hybrid with regenerative braking and a powerful electrical motor but a relatively weak diesel/gas engine to keep a comparatively small battery pack nearly up to full power? It just seems that the transmission weight alone of a dual drivetrain power supply is a strong negative, not to mention the complexity. I realize that a weak diesel engine will not be able to fully power up the batteries when the car is using full power but it would be able to recharge the batteries while I was in working my 8 hour day, so that when I came back out my car would be re-charged and ready to go again. By using a small diesel, it seems as if the hybrid would be able to get mileage figures that are substantially higher than the Plugin Hybrids while still having a decent amount of power.


If the engine can't supply enough power to keep the car moving at highway speeds, the driving range is almost as badly limited as if it had no engine at all.  Further, it makes more sense to charge from the grid than to run a tiny engine while parked, and larger engines are typically more efficient than small ones when running at their optimal setting (smaller heat losses).

There's a point where it makes no sense to have an engine.


If the engine can't supply enough power to keep the car moving at highway speeds, the driving range is almost as badly limited as if it had no engine at all.  Further, it makes more sense to charge from the grid than to run a tiny engine while parked, and larger engines are typically more efficient than small ones when running at their optimal setting (smaller heat losses).

There's a point where it makes no sense to have an engine.

Shirley E

Actually, a nice aerodynamic Prius probably requires something less than, what, 20 hp to overcome wind resistance and maintain a steady state 60-65 mph? (If someone knows the actual numbers chime in, but it's getting the car UP to that speed that takes the power.) Let's say 40 hp are required to offset electrical generation losses and provide 20 hp worth of electricity. 40 hp from a little two-cylinder diesel would be no problem. (?) Obviously if you want to drive 90 mph for more than a few miles this might become an issue.

The advantage to the engine approach is that the car can be recharging at any parked location (assuming asphyxiation etc. threat doesn't exist, might require parking outside for example). But you won't have to worry about finding an available electrical outlet to park next to. Overnight, or parking inside, or if you otherwise have access to an outlet and the time, you can always still recharge from the grid. But you don't have to.


Published drag coefficient Cd of the Prius is 0.26, frontal area A is 24 square feet (2.23 m^2), air density ρ at 59 F and sea level is 1.225 kg/m^3 (standard atmosphere), so the power lost to aerodynamic drag ½CdAρv³ at 60 MPH would be....

(crunching numbers)

6850 watts, or 9.2 horsepower.  Rolling resistance not included.

Shirley E


Now I'm curious to know what the fuel consumption would be for this kind of setup. Since the diesel isn't connected to the wheels it can always run at its most efficient speed. Let's see, I found a diesel consumption rate for a tractor of 0.048 gal/hr per PTO hp. That's probably not a bad estimate since PTO (power take off shaft) horsepower is measured while the tractor is sitting still. From your calcs above it looks like we could safely cut the diesel output in half, to 20 hp, and probably still comfortably serve the steady state load.

This works out to a consumption rate of 0.96 or say 1 gallon of diesel per hour, traveling at 60 mph, or 60 mpg. And this is using the Ford tractor, not an advanced diesel. :)

Again we're talking about a plug-in hybrid here, so assuming sufficient battery capacity, for most trips you wouldn't use any liquid fuel at all. Perhaps 5 gallons per month would do for most vehicles. I think this approach merits a further look.


I once extrapolated from some EV numbers and came up with 12 HP/ton gvw to climb a 10% grade at a constant 60 mph. For a 3000 lb car that comes to 18 HP and probably 25-30 HP from the engine when conversion inefficencies are considered.


(how irritating, my post of last night never got added.  trying again...)

Tom, you've got your figures wrong.  IIRC, a 10% grade is 1 foot of rise in 10 feet of travel, so a vehicle moving up a 10% grade at 60 MPH (88 ft/sec) would be climbing at 8.8 ft/sec.  8.8 ft/sec * 2000 lbs = 17,600 ft-lb/sec or 32 horsepower.

Shirley:  Assuming an all-up vehicle weight of 3200 lbs and a coefficient of rolling resistance of 0.005, the aforementioned Prius would require a power of 8760 watts to cruise at 60 MPH, or 11.7 horsepower.  If the Prius gets 60 MPG at this speed and gasoline is 6.167 lbm/gallon, its engine would be burning 0.53 lbm/hp-hr.  This is not particularly good for a diesel (I've seen a BSFC curve for a Cummins which hit 0.32 lbm/hp-hr at its best speed point), and diesel fuel is denser than gasoline so the figures would be higher on that account alone.

If you could get consumption down to 0.40 lbm/hp-hr with a diesel and diesel fuel is 7.67 lbm/gal, a diesel Prius could theoretically achieve 98 MPG.  That would be pretty freaking impressive....


Thanks for the correction. 12hp/ton felt low but I was working from the memory of a book I read 20 years ago.


Never trust memory when it's so simple to recalculate from the basic figures.  You make a lot fewer mistakes that way.

Eric Ingersoll

It is also possible to significantly increase the thermal efficiency and power density of diesel engines through the use of the turbo-compound cycle. This approach uses a compressor to raise the intake pressure and an expander to capture additional energy from the higher pressure and hot exhaust. Work at Caterpillar indicates 15-20% increase in efficiency and as much as a doubling of power density. Obviously, This will reduce the weight of the engine and the fuel in the plug-in hybrid, while maintaining the benefit of unlimited range.


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