Energy COOL: An affordable PHEV? Available soon?

AFS Trinity, a leading company in flywheel and other power storage systems, has just announced a 150 mile per gallon plug-in-hybrid variant of a Saturn VUE.  

“Extreme Hybrids™ don’t need high priced technology and don’t require new or expensive fuels, such as hydrogen, which, according to Argonne National Labs, will cost twice as much as gasoline at the pump and require installation of an infrastructure costing half a trillion dollars. The Extreme Hybrid™ is not a concept,” [AFS Trinity CEO] Furia said, “but a practical alternative that relies on cheap electricity from America’s vast existing energy infrastructure—the electric power grid.” 

We are talking an application of technology placed on top of an existing McSUV hybrid and achievement of significant results, reportedly in a path that will be quite affordable in the mass market application.

AFS Trinity has made the Saturn VUE, with this effort, into a serial hybrid, with the motor used to recharge the battery and to run the vehicle solely off electricity for the initial 40 miles or so. While the AFS Trinity modified car has 16 kilowatt hours of lithium ion battery capacity, they have put in ultracapicators  to handle the power demands for acceleration to reduce the strain loads on the batteries.  The modified vehicle has two motors: the traditional engine system powers the front wheels and a new electric motor provides real-wheel drive.

According to Furia, the Extreme Hybrid™ tests just completed at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds in South Carolina produced . . .

  • more than 150 miles per gallon of gasoline based on the EPA Combined Urban/Highway Driving Cycle with 6 days per week of 40 miles per day in all electric mode and one day at 100 miles with assistance of the gas engine. Different driving patterns will produce different results
  • 40 mile all-electric range on a single, overnight charge.
  • Extended range of 400 miles with hybrid operation.
  • Rapid acceleration in all modes of operation, including all electric mode in which no gasoline is burned at all.
  • Highway speeds up to 87 miles per hour in either all electric or hybrid mode
  • Even faster acceleration and higher speeds possible in future production models should the company decide to configure them for such performance.

This sounds like tremendous achievements. We are talking about an SUV here, not a small, very aerodynamic vehicle like a Honda Insight.

Affordability: According to New York Times reporting, this Saturn Vue variant would cost $8600 more. With the fuel savings, this would be a 3.5 year payback.

Now, what might be the carbon impacts:

The Vue Green Line, as Saturn builds it, emits nearly one pound of carbon dioxide for each mile traveled; the AFS Trinity version, running on the average kilowatt-hour, produces about six-tenths of a pound.

Okay, a 40 percent reduction in pollution … operating off the typical American electrical generation mix of about 50% coal and another 20% natural gas. Have some solar panels on the roof and you could hit a 100% reduction. 

Already on CNN and in the New York Times, expect to see a lot of noise about this in the coming days. Interestingly, AFS Trinity seems to be playing a very public pressure game: auto companies license and use our technology or we will raise money ourselves for deploying it. 

3 responses to “Energy COOL: An affordable PHEV? Available soon?

  1. The conversion companies are great at prodding the automakers to get to the same goal. Thus GM announced they are going to do a plug-in version of the Saturn Vue tthemselves per autoblog green yesterday:

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/01/11/gm-ceo-expect-an-announcement-on-the-vue-plug-in-hybrid-very-s/

  2. …and like the Volt, GM is trying for massmarket pricing, $30,000 or under…even though thats a bit steep… for this person who has never spent more than $20,000 on wheels…, so I like Clintons $10,000 subsidy in her very wonky detailed energy plan for plug-in hybrids and EVs, to get this country going on driving clean.

    I also like this straightup bribery plan a commenter on my solar Eclectic diary suggested to remove SUV owners from their gasguzzlers:

    http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2008/1/1/22415/98250/8#c8

  3. Not everybody has a car. Everybody has a place to live. I want to put your flywheel systems on homes to use with wind, solar, and back-up generators. I will soon be installing these power systems on homes along with geo-thermal heat pumps. I want to use your systems. Can you help me with this dream I’ve been working toward for 30 years?

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