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Seattle Mayor Introduces City’s First PHEV

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels unveiled the first of four converted plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) the city of Seattle will test over the next year. (Earlier post.)

The first Seattle PHEV.

Last October, the city of Seattle joined with the Port of Seattle, King County and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to test the performance of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in an urban area. With funding from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) matched by the participants, 13 Priuses are being converted to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The total cost is $156,000.

The city of Seattle will operate four of the converted Priuses, King County will operate four, the Port of Seattle will have two and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will have three. The plug-in conversion kits are provided by Hymotion packs from A123Systems.

Three of the four city of Seattle Priuses are used by City Light and the other is in the city’s general-use motor pool. With 330 Priuses in its fleet, Seattle has the largest fleet of Priuses in the state. In addition, the city fleet includes 47 smaller electric vehicles, including 22 scooters, two electric bikes, one neighborhood electric cart and 22 Segways.

The plug-in Prius conversions cost $12,000 per vehicle. The conversion includes the installation of equipment by Seattle company V2Green that will automatically collect on-road data from each vehicle. (Earlier post.) The data gathered will add to the INL’s growing database on PHEVs and support the federal government’s vehicle development projects. V2Green’s equipment will also allow Seattle City Light to remotely control vehicle charging.



Mayor Nickels has talked to Seattle Electric Vehicle Association(SEVA) members saying he wants a strong EV presence in Seattle. A truth from a politician is hard to come by....altho it's a given that Seattle is set up well for EVs with the high quality hydro & wind turbines spinning up energy in the Northwest.


Per previous dialog about V2G and utility control of your BEV in the future - my concerns remain. That is the power utilities must not be allowed to replace the petroleum industry. While this test and others will provide valuable information on real-world plug in use, it should be viewed with caution. Electric utilities both public and private will shoulder an increasing amount of energy use. Since most people do not have a choice in electric utilities i.e. you buy from the local electric company - they exercise a monopoly. Monopolies are dangerous. They have little supervision and tend to self interest rather than public interest.

So while the Seattle test will provide data on PHEV/EV usage, we hope to see it coupled with new ideas for small energy suppliers. e.g. small scale solar/wind farms that can recharge EVs, and if generating surplus, sell that energy back to the utility. Diversifying our energy resources is a part of the new electrification transition. It would be very interesting to see Seattle contract (or build) a home-type PV installation with an ESS. They would demonstrate the practicality of home PV for charging their plug-ins and perhaps model the net metering element. Simultaneous with the introduction of PHEVs should be the establishment of these alternative small scale power systems. They will never replace the utility - but they can supplement the grid, supply charging for local EVs, security by diversity and move us away from petroleum faster.


Every place can be an electric producing place using wind, solar and other renewable electricity source. Our future can be 100% renewable, instead of nuclear-fossil (fossil: coal, petroleum and fossil natural gas).

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