The City of Austin today officially launched “Plug-In Austin,” a community-wide campaign to promote the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Austin has been in the forefront of pushing for the development and commercialization of plug-ins as a solution. Last October, the Austin City Council passed a resolution in support of working with DaimlerChrysler’s plug-in diesel-electric hybrid Sprinter van (earlier post.)
The Austin plan, viewed as a model that will be used by communities across the country, includes:
An Austin City Council resolution supporting the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Local seed money from electric utilities (Austin Energy will provide $1 million) to help local governments, businesses and the public purchase an initial round of plug-ins.
Commitments for fleet orders by the City of Austin, Travis County, other local governmental agencies and businesses.
A grassroots petition drive to collect signatures from citizens encouraging automakers to mass-produce plug-in hybrids.
Plug-in hybrids can help significantly address two very serious problems facing communities and our country: the over-reliance of America on oil imports and the need to improve air quality in our cities by reducing pollution from automobiles.—Austin Mayor Will Wynn
This effort makes more concrete what CalCars and so many others are doing. It helps create a path to what economists call “commercialization”—the ready availability of products on the market.—Felix Kramer, CalCars
The petition drive is a key component of the Plug-In Austin campaign. Austin environmental, civic and business groups will circulate petitions with the goal of collecting at least 10,000 signatures by December. To sign the petition and get additional information on the Plug-In Austin initiative, visit www.pluginaustin.org.
The DaimlerChrysler diesel hybrid Sprinter is currently the only plug-in targeted for commercial deployment by a major automaker. (Earlier post.)
|Undercarriage of the Sprinter hybrid. DaimlerChrysler also has made an all-electric version of the van.
The Sprinter uses a 2.7-liter, five-cylinder turbo diesel engine that on its own offers approximately 25 mpg US. The plug-in version of the Sprinter hybrid features a 70-kW electric motor integrated into the drive train between the transmission and clutch.
It obtains its energy from NiMH batteries (capacity 14 kWh) which it recharges during operation by using regenerative braking. Alternatively the batteries can be recharged overnight using grid power. A complete charge takes about 6 hours.
The operating range under emissions-free electrical operation is up to 30 km (18.6 miles). DaimlerChrysler estimates that, depending upon how it is driven, the plug-in can reduce fuel consumption, and thus CO2 emissions, by up to 50%.
The hybrid Sprinter is entering customer trials this year, where those figures will be tested.