From: John Gartner , Clean Techies, More from this Affiliate
Published September 28, 2009 10:30 AM

Why Stop at Converting Hybrid Vehicles?

Converting hybrid vehicles — particularly the Prius and Ford Escape — into plug-in hybrids has become a profitable niche industry for a few specialty companies. But the net impact of this new mini-industry has been much greater by influencing consumer and industry opinions.

Promoting the technical feasibility of PHEVs has been a significant factor in the auto manufacturers’ decision to develop the dozens of plug-in and all-electric vehicles now scheduled for delivery in the next five years.

But the earliest and strongest voice promoting PHEVs isn’t happy with that limited success. Felix Kramer, the founder of CalCars.org, says that getting to a million electrified vehicles by 2015 won’t do nearly enough to address climate change and energy independence, and now he’s setting his sights on electrifying internal combustion engine vehicles. He’s clearly on to something.

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CalCar’s new "Big Fix" initiative wants to electrify some of the biggest emitters and gas-wasters — pickup trucks, SUVs and vans (PSVs). When used in delivery routes that are often well under 40 miles per day, they spend much of their time starting, stopping, and idling, and get among the worst MPG ratings around. Converting one of these vehicles to a PHEV or EV will reduce fuel consumption and emissions to a much greater degree than trading in a Sebring for a Prius.

SPVs, most notably the Ford F-150, have been among the top sellers for more than a decade, creating an inventory of millions of vehicles that could be converted. They also have much more space for battery packs, which makes for a simpler conversion than a compact car. Former Intel CEO Andy Grove and electric vehicle guru Andy Frank are fully on board, lending their considerable credibility to the idea.

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