Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Hybrid Hot Rodding
Oberon posts that Toyota is none-too-happy with owners who are plugging in their Prius... Priuses? Priui? Whatever - plugging in their oddly-shaped hybrid sedans into the power grid. And the owners are claiming some pretty significant "fuel economy" improvements, especially when coupled with a larger battery pack.
Let's do the math on this one. Assume a Brake Specific Fuel Consumption of 0.4 lbs/HP/hour (this is perhaps too conservative; I've heard that Nextel Cup stock cars manage to beat this by a fair amount on non-restrictor-plate superspeedways). At a price of $2.44/gallon, obtaining power from the Prius's internal-combustion engine costs approximately $0.20 per kW-hour. So it's possible to save some money by charging a battery pack at perhaps $0.07/kW-Hr. Additionally, it's quite possible that the process of charging the battery pack via a stationary power plant can result in a reduction in emissions, as well as reducing our dependence on imported hydrocarbons. But I don't buy the claim of "180 miles per gallon" - that's not quite honest.
I admire the spirit of those who are starting to hot-rod hybrid cars, and from a practical standpoint, I think I called this one a couple of years ago. This field is going to get much more interesting in the coming years - makes me wish I could get into a hybrid cheaply enough to allow some experimentation.