Naked City

Plug-in car

Naked City
Photo By John Anderson

Fresh from its win at the annual Tour de Sol sustainable vehicle rally and summit, the Valence Technology-Energy CS plug-in hybrid concept car cruised through Austin last week. During the Tour's 150-mile rally, the gasoline/electric hybrid averaged 102 miles per gallon. The souped-up Toyota Prius is capable of more than doubling showroom gas mileage thanks to the addition of Austin-based Valence Technology's industry-first, large-format Lithium Ion batteries, coupled with hardware and controls that allow it to be plugged into a regular wall outlet between drives – allowing for much more zero-emission electric driving. Once the extra charge runs out, the car functions as a regular 40- to 50-mpg Prius. The city is testing similar technology, hoping to hook up a fleet of plug-ins to Austin Energy's GreenChoice renewable energy program (see "Can Austin Kick-Start the Hybrid-Car Future?," Oct. 22). Energy CS is developing consumer upgrade kits for the Prius and other hybrids and hopes to have them on sale by early 2006 for between $10,000 and $12,000. For more info see www.valence.com, www.edrivesystems.com, and www.calcars.org.

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