Jun 8 2009 Ian Johnson
Switching on to plug-in power
WE have seen seen dual-fuel cars, we have seen biofuel-powered cars and we have seen complex petrol-electric hybrids.
But now it seems there is a new kid on the block in terms of fuel-saving - the plug in hybrid.
Volvo is now developing a car that can be fuelled with electricity from a standard wall socket and this vehicle will become reality in 2012. Swedish energy company Vattenfall and the Volvo Car Corporation are launching an industrial joint venture partnership to introduce plug-in hybrids on the market.
Volvo claims the ground-breaking technology will considerably lower the environmental impact from traffic. In addition, owning a plug-in hybrid vehicle will be convenient since you can power-up at home.
These cars can be powered by both electricity and diesel and the move represents a major leap forward in the drive away from fossil fuels.
One of the major benefits of Plug-in hybrids is that they can be charged from a regular household wall socket.
Volvo is convinced that electricity is very well-suited as a power source for cars. An electric motor has a high efficiency rating and consumes roughly one-fifth the energy needed to power an engine that runs on fossil fuels.
But the purchase price of the plug-in hybrids will be higher than that of cars with conventional technology. Batteries are still expensive but with the car running on electricity, its fuel costs will be cut to roughly one-third compared with diesel power.
We will have to see if this really is the way forward in automotive power. I dread to think of the electricity bill though. Sounds is if there are boom times ahead for the builders of new power stations.