The new Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Center got launched today with a press event in the Mondavi Center courtyard.
The center is funded with $3 million from the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. One of the it’s first research projects will place 10 plug-in hybrids with local families who will evaluate them for up to eight weeks. This project is supported with an additional $1.8 million from the California Air Resources Board.
This morning, researchers were showing off the first vehicle in the fleet, a 2007 Toyota Prius that was professionally converted to a plug-in hybrid for UC Davis.
Unlike the commercial hybrid vehicles, a plug-in hybrid can be recharged from the wall and makes more use of electrical power. That means that many short trips, urban trips can be done on electric power only, reducing emissions and increasing mileage.
One of the keynote speakers at the event was Professor Andrew (Andy) Frank, who has been working on plug-in hybrid technology for over a decade. Frank and his students have converted a series of vehicles to run as plug-in hybrids, including a Chevy Suburban, Ford Explorer and Chevy Sequoia.