New Fuel Economy Law Promotes Plug-in Hybrid Cars

The idea is that if the cars had enough battery power to go 40 miles on a charge, without starting the engine, 78 percent of Americans could drive all week without using any gasoline at all.

Published: 12-Jan-2008

One interesting and little noticed provision of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is a section promoting the development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. This legislation nugget has not have caught wide media attention. But to me, seeing Congress actively embrace technology that once seemed like science fiction shows how far we have come in the past decade. Let me explain:

Plug-in hybrids, like the Chevrolet Volt concept and some Toyota Prius aftermarket conversions, work just like regular full hybrids—operating on gas, electric power, or both. But plug-ins have much larger batteries, and instead of recharging them only with the gas engine in the vehicle, they may also be charged from a home or office electrical outlet.

The idea is that if the cars had enough battery power to go 40 miles on a charge, without starting the engine, 78 percent of Americans could drive all week without using any gasoline at all. Most Americans drive less than 27 miles a day, and the cars could go that far on electricity alone by charging up every night.

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