Machine Design

Hybrids that plug in 'n go

New gas-optional hybrid technology lets hybrid vehicles plug in and charge from a conventional three-prong, 110-V home electrical outlet.

By combining gasoline power with electricity from a home recharge, vehicles carrying equipment from EDrive Systems LLC., Monrovia, Calif., can average 100 to 150 mpg for the first 60 miles, compared to 45 to 55 mpg for a conventional Toyota Prius. The EDrive technology, an aftermarket installation, uses one-half to one-third of the gasoline used by a conventional hybrid. Vehicles can also run in electric-only mode at neighborhood speeds for zero emissions.

For batteries, EDrive has teamed with lithium-ion battery manufacturer Valence Technology Inc., Austin, Tex. "Regardless of whether they use hydrogen fuel cells or batteries, the cars of the future will be powered by electric motors, period," says Seth Seaberg, a partner in EDrive Systems.

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