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MITSUBISHI i-MiEV – Electric Car Keiko 47kW Auto

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Miles per gallon ratings with plug-in hybrid vehicles

There are amazing claims of miles per gallon ratings for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV). For example a semi-famous appearance of GM’s CEO on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me where he gave an amazing capsule summary of the (still-to-be-released) Chevy Volt that it would get 150 miles per gallon. In an era where high efficiency cars are getting 30 miles/gallon that is pretty darn phenomenol. There is an unspoken other side to this, in that the U.S. car companies stopped developing miles/gallon efficiency and focusing on power and bulk (SUV’s).

In any case I want to look at this.

First, how do they get such high miles per gallon ratings? It comes from running the PHEV in electric-only mode, and then recharging the battery pack from the grid rather than running the gas engine. In the normal hybrid cars, the battery charge comes only from the gas engine.

In a normal hybrid car the pack doesn’t have to be very large and in a PHEV the battery pack is larger, larger enough to power it in electric mode for a significant distance.

Clearly there is less need for gasoline in a PHEV which will contribute to the higher miles per gallon ratings. Supposedly the majority of people has a daily commute less than 18 miles per day. Thus a PHEV with 40 miles of electric only range can adequately handle that 18 mile daily drive.

Hence for the majority of people they might rarely fire up the gas engine and drive in electric only mode the majority of their driving.

MITSUBISHI i-MiEV – Electric Car Keiko 47kW Auto

100-mpg plug-in hybrids popping up in US talks about some of the PHEV conversions being performed. Advanced Vehicle Research Center can retrofit a Prius in about four hours for a cost of $10,400. The AVRC is one of eight US companies authorized to install lithium ion batteries manufactured by A123 Systems, a Massachusetts company. The mechanics remove the spare tire in the trunk, and replace it with a 170-pound lithium ion battery pack. AVRC estimates that it could take 140,000 miles to recover the cost through fuel savings.

But the important thing is that they ve demonstrated that the technology is viable and available right now.

CalCars is a principle home of plug-in hybrid cars and has published a summary of research and other information. We try to be careful to emphasize in the fine print that PHEVs can get over 100 miles/gallon of gasoline, PLUS electric costs of about 1-2 cents/mile.

To get an idea, I used the Hymotion / A123Systems plug-in hybrid calculator and got some interesting numbers. I should mention that I claimed 3000 miles / year driving which may sound low, but I have arranged my life to utilize bicycles and an electric motorcycle for most of my driving and actually drive my car very little.


Typical midsized gas car

MITSUBISHI i-MiEV – Electric Car Keiko 47kW Auto
MITSUBISHI i-MiEV – Electric Car Keiko 47kW Auto
MITSUBISHI i-MiEV – Electric Car Keiko 47kW Auto
MITSUBISHI i-MiEV – Electric Car Keiko 47kW Auto

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