Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Google Cars

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Finally, a smooth transition from one post to another which happens so rarely; from Honda Jets to Google Cars.

This started as a minor post from a quick blurb in the magazine "eWeek" which I still get in the print edition. I still like hard copy to flip through when I have no destination or purpose in mind unlike browsing where I am always going for something. And there was this:

Google.org is the philanthropic arm of the Google mother ship, with about $1 billion in startup funding from company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. One of the first efforts by Google.org—let's just call it Gorg for short—is a hybrid electric car that recharges itself using power produced by solar panels.

If you think of a typical hybrid with an outside plug and extra batteries for using stored electricity as the primary power source, you have the basic idea.

And then there was a reference to the Official Google Blog and "A Clean Energy Update":

Google.org is launching an exciting project that offers a glimpse of a smarter energy future: cars that plug into an electric grid powered by solar energy. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (plug-in hybrids”) can achieve 70 -100 miles per gallon, quadrupling the fuel economy of the average car on the road today (~20 mpg). As we demonstrated at today's event, plug-in hybrids can sell power back to the electric grid when it's needed most through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

As you may know, one of Google.org's core missions is to address climate change. In the U.S., transportation contributes about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions –- with more than 60 percent of those emissions coming from personal vehicles. By accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrids and vehicle-to-grid ("V2G") technologies, this new project,
RechargeIT.org, aims to reduce emissions and dependence on oil while promoting clean energy technologies and increasing consumer choice. Linking the U.S. transportation system to the electricity grid maximizes the efficiency of our energy system. From these efforts, we believe the environment will benefit -- and consumers will have more choices to fuel their cars.

We've been working with Google engineers and
Hymotion/A123Systems to build a small fleet of
plug-in hybrids, adding an external plug and additional batteries to a regular hybrid car so that it runs on electricity with gasoline (or even better, biofuels) to extend the driving range for longer trips.

Since most Americans drive less than 35 miles per day, you easily could drive mostly on electricity with the gas tank as a "safety net." Our goal is to demonstrate the plug-in hybrid and V2G technology, get people excited about having their own plug-in hybrid, and encourage car companies to start building them soon.

In the preliminary results from our test fleet, on average the plug-in hybrid gas mileage was 30+ mpg higher than that of the regular hybrids. In conjunction with Pacific Gas and Electric, we also demonstrated the bidirectional flow of electricity through V2G technology, and have awarded $1
million in grants and announced plans for a $10 million request for proposals (RFP) to fund development, adoption and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

For even more details about the entire car project on grant amounts, the companies involved and more, here is the full press release, which is actually interesting.

It strikes me a company, not wedded to old technology and without billions invested in property, old plants, wrong equipment and high cost human capital, and that has tons of cash, can do amazing things.

A Google Car, who could have imagined?

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