Port of Chelan launching hybrid car project
The Port of Chelan County is spearheading a project to raise awareness around Washington about ultra-fuel-efficient, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
The one-year pilot project seeks to get 14 modified Toyota Prius hybrids on the road as part of vehicle fleets across the state.
Once the cars are on the road, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to track their every move, including distance traveled, gasoline versus electricity use, charging time and mileage.
All of the Priuses in the port's project will be converted to "plug-in hybrids" at the Wenatchee Valley College auto shop.
A plug-in hybrid is an electric car that also has a gasoline engine. Its batteries are larger than a standard Prius hybrid's, to allow it to travel farther. Once the batteries run down, the gas engine kicks in automatically.
Batteries are charged by plugging the car into a standard outlet. Experts say the plug-ins can achieve gas mileage in excess of 100 miles per gallon.
Besides the port, agencies that have agreed so far to participate are Chelan County Public Works, Wenatchee Valley College, City of Wenatchee Public Works, Douglas County PUD, Snohomish County Public Works, Energy Northwest and the Green IT Alliance in Pullman, said project coordinator Ron Johnston-Rodriguez.
The port is seeking additional agencies to participate.
"The purpose is to prepare communities for the proliferation of plug-ins on the road," Johnston-Rodriguez said.
The port bought and converted a 2005 Prius in 2006. It recently bought and converted a 2007 Prius especially for its state project.
"The world changed for us when we did the first Prius conversion," Johnston-Rodriguez said. "We could see that, wow, this really had potential."
He said solar-powered charging stations would be installed at the college and possibly at other points around Wenatchee for charging the project's vehicles.
"The pilot project will get the hybrids on the road, so citizens, agencies, utilities and governments can see how they work," Johnston-Rodriguez said. "They've gotta kick the tires. It's gotta be real world."
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