Advanced Energy boosts hybrid vehicle efficiency
Thanks to the “greening of America” and skyrocketing fuel costs, the Toyota Prius has become something of a phenomenon in recent years. With a city/highway/combined fuel economy of 48/45/46 miles per gallon respectively, the vehicle already posts some impressive statistics. However, Advanced Energy – a Raleigh, NC-based non-profit organization dedicated to creating “a future in which energy needs are met at reasonable costs and with the least negative consequences” – has spearheaded a way to coax an additional 35 to 40 miles per gallon from the lean, green vehicles.
Working in conjunction with Hymotion, a conversion module manufacturer, and the Advanced Vehicle Research Center, an automotive research and development company, Advanced Energy converted three of the hybrid vehicles to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). To accomplish this, each Prius was retrofitted with an additional lithium ion battery which can be recharged using a standard 110-volt outlet. As a result, the vehicles can deliver impressive fuel economy while reducing harmful emissions and maximizing the use of cleaner energy. Each conversion takes approximately four hours and yields improved performance without altering the appearance of the vehicle.
“Other than the plug on the rear bumper, you can’t see a difference between these converted vehicles and a typical Prius,” said Dick Dell, executive director of the Advanced Vehicle Research Center. “You will see a difference at the gas pump.”
In addition to using less gasoline, PHEVs typically use electricity during off-peak hours, making more efficient use of power plants while reducing emissions significantly.
The three newly converted PHEVs are owned by South Carolina Electric and Gas, the City of Raleigh, and Four County Electric Membership Corporation. In August, Advanced Energy also initiated and facilitated the conversion of vehicles owned by Advanced Energy, Duke Energy and Progress Energy. According to a press release issued by Advanced Energy, several of the converted PHEVs in North Carolina will be monitored for performance in the coming months to provide information for continued efforts to promote the benefits of plug-in hybrid technology.