Plug-in Cars to be Tested in Toronto

After complaining about smog and auto-idling, I see a Toronto Star article on Mayor Miller's Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Pilot Project which is based on an innovative approach to reducing our fuel consumption and maybe getting rid of some smog.

This is how the pilot project works. A bunch of hybrid cars will be converted into "plug-in" hybrid cars that can be recharged from the same outlet you put your toaster in. These converted cars, unlike regular hybrid vehicles, will rely mostly on electricity. They also get double the gas mileage of traditional hybrids (turns out regular hybrids can get much greener with a modified battery).

These converted hybrids, ten of which will be tested for a year in Toronto, will go 50 km around the city with one charge and only a little gas. 200 vehicles could be part of the project by 2008

Driving around a plug-in car is hopefully just the beginning. Having a vehicle operate off of the electricity grid opens up a bunch of other ideas for the future. You could use your car as a portable power source (in case of a power-outage) or plug your car back into the grid to sell surplus electricity back to the electricity supplier (an idea that California is presently studying and could be similar to British home-owners selling back superfluous electricity from rooftop solar panels and home wind turbines).

It may still be a while before a lot of us are driving anything like a mass-produced electric car - the batteries are still expensive, they are hard to find, and other reasons you may have heard of. Despite the wait and the lack of big changes like the greening of New York City cabs, it's promising to see us trying some greener ideas.

Photo: Image from room929 from the blogTO Flickr pool.

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