“What is it that you seek, grasshopper?”
“A vehicle that will cost me the equivalent of 50 cents for a gallon of gasoline.”*
Andrew A. Frank, Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at UC-Davis Institute for Transportation Studies is an unlikely guru, nevertheless, one has begun to hear his name mentioned in the media. While his colleagues have focused on the development of fuel cell hybrid vehicles, Professor Frank and his students focused on a shorter range goal. The result, according to Ron Gremban, is a “super” PHEV that can go all electric at any speed for 60 miles each day.
An outspoken advocate of electric vehicles, Professor Frank went against the mainstream of automobile engineering. “Historically,” reports Bill Moore of EV World, writing about Dr. Frank and his plugged-in vision, “the automotive industry has balked at this strategy because they claim it adds weight and cost to the vehicle.” But, now, his “loyal followers”, such as the engineers at CalCars, are “spreading the word” that PHEVs are the “smart” hybrid.
Rather than those reasons, which remain applicable, in a recent response Toyota gave other reasons for avoiding adding a plug to their hybrids currently in production and those soon to be coming off the assembly line. Dr. Frank answered those objections when interviewed for the 2003 article.
Dr. Frank has been experimenting with hybrids and plug-ins for 25 years and he favors the combination of large electric motor and a small internal combustion engine for propulsion. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle (Tiny URL) in April, “the bigger the electric motor and the smaller the gas engine, the more efficient the overall vehicle is.”
*Note: Dr. Frank estimates you can run a plug-in hybrid for the equivalent of 50 cents a gallon of gasoline! Of course, this is off-peak rates. You plug in your hybrid to your home’s electric power supply at night. The next morning, the first 10, 20 or even 60 miles would be driven solely on electricity.
For more information, refer to Austin Energy’s PHEV Resource Center (Tiny URL).