Nov. 1, 2007: Source – San Francisco Chronicle
In an effort to test and examine the real-world viability of plug-in hybrids, the University of California Davis Institute of Transportation Studies will be conducting an experimental program of the high-mileage vehicles next year. One hundred Northern California households will each be given an eight-week loan of a modified Toyota Prius. The Priuses—which have been converted to run on batteries that are twice as powerful as those found in standard production Prius models—will allow the vehicles to primarily travel on electric power.
“This is the first large consumer study of plug-in hybrids” said Tom Turrentine, director of the Plug-In Hybrid Center at the Institute. Researchers will interview households every week to gain a better understanding of daily driving experience. “We want to know how people respond to the car,” said Turrentine. “Are they excited because it is cheaper (to operate)? Are they excited because they are saving the world?”
The pilot program is slated to be launched in Spring 2008.