Once considered a pipe dream for radical environmentalists, the development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) has gained respect in the U.S. Recent support is coming from Southern California Edison of Rosemead, CA, and San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric. The California electricity producers have joined the newly-launched Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium. Consortium officials note that the recent addition of utility members is significant because PHEVs will rely on the electrical grid to charge their on-board batteries. Once charged, these hybrids will drive their first 25 to 50 miles on electricity alone.
PHEVs rely more on battery power than conventional hybrids that have little-to-no all-electrical range. The consortium is made up of automotive manufacturers, suppliers and other organizations working to accelerate the commercial production of PHEVs. The consortium was organized to help reduce the R&D gap between component suppliers and OEMs, and coordinate the development of new solutions. Members of the consortium plan to develop compatible components and cost-effective working designs that would enable a PHEV to achieve a gasoline fuel economy of 100 to 200 miles per gallon.
Besides California electricity suppliers, the consortium has also attracted global members from the auto industry. Members include San Diego-based energy and power developer Maxwell Technologies Inc., as well as a number of Asian battery developers, including Japan's Enax and Daiken and China-based Thunder Sky.