Truly, plug-in vehicles look to be a key near term leap forward toward a better energy future in the transportation system.Â The Chevy Volt made a splash as a potential PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) for the passenger market.Â Now, an effort is surfacing to do this with utility vehicles and vans in southern California.
Green Car Congress has a good discussion of plans to build and test four PHEV trucks built on the FOrd F-550 truck chasis.Â
According to EPRI (warning: pdf), “the primary goal of this project is to develop a plug-in hybrid power train system suitable for widespread utility use in service vehicles”.Â The benefits that they outline include:
– Reduced fuel consumption, emissions, and operating costs with increased vehicle energy efficiency
-Â Use of grid electricity for part of the vehicle’s daily duty cycle
– Field power generation by the electric-drive portion of the vehicle
– Reduced engine idling — “minimized vehicle impact on neighborhoods and operators with standby time”
Think about that last for a moment … reduced or eliminated idling. That means not just lower GHG emissions, but no longer the noise on the street from the engine running as the operator fills out forms, waits forÂ a customer, or eats their lunch. Now, THAT is a real step forward!