For the past several years, a rogue group of engineers in northern California has been trying to convince Toyota, that plugging in its Prius, charging it overnight in order to achieve 100+ mpg fuel economy is not only feasible, it’s something that consumers want.
In a recent reversal, Toyota has stated that they now intend to develop plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for the consumer market. This reversal is due to pressure from Team Fate and California Cars Initiative who have both been hounding Toyota about plugging in rather than dropping out. Pressure has also come from Daimler-Chrysler who has also started selling plug-in hybrid electric vans to large corporations.
Toyota is also developing E85 vehicles as well. Combining the two technologies would mean a car could achieve hundreds of miles per gallon of petroleum fuel.
I would like to take this concept one step farther down the path and combine plug-in hybrid electric technology with hydrogen fuel cell technology. In the past, I’ve talked about how this would be the ultimate clean driving machine. This would also reduce the need for a vast hydrogen infrastructure to be built, only a minimal one would be necessary.
Imagine a plug-in hybrid electric-hydrogen vehicle that gets over 100 mpg equivalent and the only emission is a small amount of water vapor. One might argue about the need to go hydrogen if we could simply use plug-in electric vehicles rather than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
This is a path that some will want to go down. The problem with this path is the strain on the aging electrical grid. A couple of hundred electric cars plugged into the grid is no problem but if millions of cars were suddenly plugged in, this could create blackouts across the country. And, if you were in a blackout situation, how would you recharge your car or even leave the situation?
Having hydrogen as a fuel source will take the strain off the electrical grid. Consumers would have the option to plug-in or not according to the situation they are in. If you were in a blackout situation, you would still be mobile because the car would not be totally dependent upon electricity for energy.
If you happened to be in an emergency situation because of a hurricane, earthquake, flood or whatever and your car had no charge, wouldn’t be nice to be able to flee the situation anyway? Hydrogen combined with hybrid electric vehicles provide a valuable complementary form of energy that will one day be the ultimate driving machine. Mark you calendars as you’ve heard it here, first.