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Can we get 100 mpg?

07.19.2005 09:27 | DISPATCHES

This past Sunday's Los Angeles Times had a nice article by Dan Neil about Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). Neil drove a PHEV Toyota Prius--basically a regular Prius that some rogue engineers had souped up--and got mind-boggling fuel efficiency. Here's some choice excerpts:

Does it work? In the time it takes for Hanssen to explain the car's operation, we have traveled 9.09 miles around Monrovia on highway and surface streets and have used only .067 of a gallon of gas. According to the computer, that's 134.8 mpg with the same humming effortlessness as the stock Prius. So far, so amazing.

....Road test update: I've driven my daily route to the office and back: 11.8 miles round trip on mostly surface streets. I don't baby the throttle particularly, and the gas engine kicks in several times as I accelerate with traffic and motor up hills. Mileage: 122 mpg. So, if I were to use the Prius PHEV as my sole commuting vehicle, I would have to fill up once every 22 weeks, or once every 5 1/2 months.

...Road test update: My wife and I have been driving around Los Angeles for hours, desperately trying to use up 1 gallon of gasoline. Downtown. Santa Monica. Burbank. Glendale. We finally cross the 1-gallon mark near our home in Eagle Rock. I start daubing buttons on the dashboard controller. Total mileage is 73.98 miles. For the first 44.6 miles—the electrically boosted range—I got 144 mpg and used 7.092 kWh. That's about 68 cents worth of electricity and $2.50 worth of gasoline.

I recommend the full article. Energy nirvana is not yet upon us--some kinks remain to be worked out. It seems the biggest obstacle right now is cost. These cars won't come cheap. On the other hand, you won't spend much on gas either...


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