Car reaches 100 m.p.g.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 19, 2007

KINSTON – A car that gets one hundred miles per gallon plus.

It’s a rare feat in the car world, and the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC) based out of Garysburg has just finished a project of the kind.

AVRC staff members installed “plug in” conversion kits into three Toyota Prius hybrids enabling the vehicles to get more than 100 miles per gallon under normal city driving conditions. 

“The AVRC is involved with a number of future automotive research projects, from biofuels to electric,” said Dick Dell, executive director of AVRC. “This new plug-in technology adds one more dimension to our work to bring automotive research into North Carolina.”

According to Dell, the conversion adds another larger lithium ion battery to the standard Prius hybrid, which uses a single nickel metal hydride battery.

The lithium ion battery is designed to fit into the spare tire well of the Prius.

A plug on the back bumper allows the vehicle battery to be recharged via extension cord to a 110 volt house current.

“With the plug-in conversion the car will run on a fully charged battery for the first 35 or 40 miles on just the additional battery pack,” said Dell. “After that time the car runs in the normal hybrid way, using the gas engine as needed.”

Dell added that the standard Prius hybrid can get about 48 miles per gallon of gas. When charged nightly the converted hybrid can achieve about 100 miles to the gallon or more, depending on driving habits of the driver and miles driven.

The work was done in cooperation with the Advanced Energy Corporation of Raleigh and was completed at the Global TransPark near Kinston.

Over the course of a week, AVRC staff members Glenn Edmonds and Jason Williams worked to install the $12,000 conversion kits using a secure facility.

“It’s a four hour job per car,” said Dell.

Hymotion Engineer Jerry Zielinski helped the team as well. Hymotion was the company that manufactured the conversion kits.

The cars are owned by Progress Energy, Duke Power and the Advanced Energy office in Raleigh, and will be used as demonstration vehicles to show how the “plug-in” technology can save gas and operate efficiently on electric from a home.

Dell noted once the price of the kits decreases, the technology would be more desirable to more than just corporations.

“Plug-in hybrid vehicles offer a quick way to reduce our use on foreign oil, but we need a lower cost battery to be cost effective,” he said. “There are new battery technologies now in development that will make this possible in a few years.”

Dell added hybrids alone are not the complete solution to the current energy crisis.

“Our energy problem is complex and there is no single ‘magic bullet’ solution,” he said. “In the long run we will need to find partial solutions in many forms of alternative fuels including ethanol and, further in the future, hydrogen.”

AVRC is currently working on two ethanol vehicles. North Carolina State University is involved with one of the cars in the project.