Community Blog

The purpose of the Community Blog is to post news about the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Study at CU Boulder and (eventually) about the study results, as well as to engage the community in discussions about numerous topics related to emerging approaches in transportation and energy systems: environmental, economic and societal impacts, science and technology, education, … The blog is moderated by CU Boulder researchers. We invite you to share your thoughts and topic suggestions through your comments to the Community Blog posts.

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3 Responses to Community Blog

  1. Bruce says:

    We are participants in the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Study and started driving the Prius a couple weeks ago. We are now used to plugging it in when we go in the garage and unplugging it before getting back in the car. There are a few bugs that involve the interaction of the plug with the regular hybrid operation, but they are minor so far (and not always repeatable). The instrumentation that shows which systems are operating, be it the extra battery, the gas engine, or the normal battery are not always fully understandable. For example, the extra battery is supposed to be good for 14 miles and when it is fully charged, it shows 14 miles left. Then, sometimes it goes to the hybrid mode before the 14 miles is totally used up. I am not sure why. It also seems to charge the extra battery when you take your foot off the gas when it is in hybrid mode. That is kind of cool, but not intuitive why it would do that, unless it is behaving like a generator. Overall, I really like the feeling that I can go out for dinner with zero gas.

    • dm4321 says:

      Thanks for the comment! When the PHV is fully charged, it is in the electric (EV) mode for about 12-14 miles (as you have probably noticed, the actual number of miles in EV mode depends on the route and driving conditions) . As you noticed, the EV mode may not be 100% electric: the vehicle will start the engine in cases when the electric motor alone is not able to meet the demand, for example if you need to accelerate faster, or if you are climbing up a hill at some speed, or if you exceed about 60 mph. As long as the green EV light in the upper left corner of the dashboard is on, the vehicle has enough battery charge to do most (but not all) driving using electric motor only. Once the green EV light is off, the vehicle operates as a standard hybrid – continuously combining electric and engine drives. Your observation that the battery is re-charged when you take your foot off the gas (or press the brake pedal) is correct – the electric motor works as a generator and re-charges the battery. This is called “regenerative braking.” Regenerative braking is performed in both electric and hybrid modes, which improves efficiency and gas mileage.

  2. Cathy says:

    We are participating in the PHV study and so far we love the car, but for one thing… Our current car is also a hybrid Prius (not electric, of course) and it has a back-up camera when you go into reverse. The test vehicle does not have this wonderful safety feature, which is extremely important, because the car has lots of blind spots.

    Also, I would run, not walk to buy an electric vehicle if there were charging stations around the country, but without the infrastructure to have a vehicle that only runs on 12-14 miles from a single charge is nice, but not compelling. Once it gets to 50 or 100 miles (minus charging station infrastructure) then we would love to purchase this car. So far it is getting about 15-20 miles better gas mileage then our current ’07 Prius!

    I love that Toyota is working on this. I hope to see gas prices stay high so that these types of vehicles are the norm.

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