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‘Father of the Plug-in Hybrid’ gets a Chevy Volt

UC Davis engineering professor Andy Frank has been called ‘The Father of the Plug-in Hybrid,’ and yesterday he picked up one of the first to be sold. The Chevrolet Andy Frank with his new VoltVolt made by General Motors has both an electric motor and a gasoline engine, and it’s EPA sticker says it can get up to 93 mpg in city driving. That’s because the Volt can drive for up to 30 miles — enough for most in-town commuting — on electric power alone, and can recharge its batteries either from the gasoline engine or from a 110 volt socket.

Frank said he first started looking at plug-in hybrids in the 1970s, but the technology was not yet sufficiently advanced. He built his first plug-in car, Aftershock, at UC Davis in 1991 and with a team of students has built 12 such cars over the past 20 years, including a Chevy Suburban that competed in the national Futuretruck competitions.

In the process, he’s also trained hundreds of students, many of whom have gone to work in the auto industry — including some who have worked on the design of the Volt, he said.
It’s gratifying to see that work pay off and come to a commercial product, he said.

Other manufacturers such as Nissan and Ford are also bringing new electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars to market, Frank noted.

More coverage: KCRA TV; Sacramento Bee

Previously: 

UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center; The Center’s Dahlia Garas (a former student of Frank’s) explains plug-in hybrids in this Newswatch video.

Trinity, the UC Davis entry in the 2007 Challenge X competition (video)

“Nationalize Detroit, put Andy Frank in charge”

Frank appeared in PBS Nova’s ‘Car of the Future’ with Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack from NPR)

Frank’s keynote speech at Plug-in 2008

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