Friday, February 15, 2008

NC Transportation Center

It's fair to say that the plug in hybrid (watch video) was born in California at UC Davis through the vision and tenacity of Andy Frank; but now, as the idea and the technology begins to mature and spread, another State and another University is joining the effort:

Here's the story from Channel Nine news:

N.C. Governor Announces New Energy Program
For Plug-in Hybrid Cars

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State University plans to launch a research hub for the development of plug-in cars, a project that has attracted the interest of both energy and automobile companies.

The school already conducts research into the development of the no-gas vehicles. And Gov. Mike Easley said Tuesday that, depending on the support from federal grants, the state may give $5 million to start and $1 million annually to operate the Advanced Transportation Energy Center there.

"This new energy economy is out there just waiting for somebody to pluck it from the vine," Easley said in announcing the plan at a forum on energy at N.C. State. "I'm going to make sure that North Carolina gets its share. America's ready to go where North Carolina's ready to go."

Duke Energy Corp. and Progress Energy Corp. said they have both pledged to participate in the project and are already developing a grid system that would allow drivers to charge their car batteries while away from home.

Easley said General Motors Corp. may also join the program as researchers seek to develop lighter and safer vehicles that the batteries can power.

The initial mandate of the center would be the development of cheaper, lighter and more efficient batteries that could be plugged in at home. N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger said he expects to develop a battery that can power a vehicle without the aid of gasoline within the next two to five years.

Cost is a big factor for making the batteries available to the average consumer, and Easley said with the proper research that the department can bring the cost of the battery from $10,000 to $3,000 and make other improvements. clip

"This is transformational," said Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson. "This really is a bold and aggressive idea."

The ATEC will be stationed on NCSU's burgeoning Centennial Campus. NCSU Chancellor James L. Oblinger states, “Growth in the use of plug-in hybrid technology and infrastructure opens the door for North Carolina and N.C. State to be leaders in creating a workforce for advanced transportation. “

Plug-ins hybrids are the next phase in the whole hybrid automobile craze. Toyota is currently testing its own prototype plug-in Prius and 100 Californian households will receive plug-in Priuses this spring.

General Motors is also on the plug-in bandwagon with its Saturn Vue Green Line. The Vue Green Line will get a two-mode hybrid powertrain later this year and a plug-in variant will be introduced in 2009.

GM's much-hyped Chevrolet Volt will also feature plug-in capabilities. The Volt will be able to charge its batteries via the charging port or via the onboard 1.0 liter turbocharged gasoline engine."

Here at Plug in Partners we've added three new cities

Atlanta, GA
Trenton, NJ
Urbana, IL

Membership now includes over 630 partners, including 73 cities, 36 counties and local governments, 177 electric utilities, and 38 environmental groups.

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