Publication Detail

Simplifying the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle to Make it More Affordable


Presentation Series

Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

Suggested Citation:
Frank, Andrew A. (2013) Simplifying the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle to Make it More Affordable. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Presentation Series UCD-ITS-PS-13-04

Twelve patents owned by the University of California, Davis and licensed by Efficient Drivetrains Inc. have been used to design and construct plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) with a minimum of parts, much greater simplicity and lower costs than the plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) currently in production. This has been achieved by making PHEVs with smaller and simpler liquid fuel engines, oil-free continuously variable, multimode, electric transmissions and small battery packs. The concept has been applied to small and large vehicles greatly improving fuel economy while achieving cost equivalence to conventional vehicles.

To reduce CO2 greenhouse gas pollution, we need to wean ourselves from the use of gasoline and other fossil fuels for transportation and stationary uses and replace it with electricity and renewable liquid biofuels. By using PHEVs we can transition to use less fossil fuel and more electricity for transportation as well as using the vehicles’ batteries to help level the stationary electric loads for homes and industry. The long range goal is to fuel our transportation using 90% electricity and 10% liquid fuel. The electricity could be generated renewably by wind, solar and hydroelectric and the liquid fuel could be biologically renewable. Then we could have a society with zero CO2 pollution from transportation with no loss in convenience. The dual fuel PHEV is the critical technology that enables this to be achieved.

The advantages of a PHEV over all-electric vehicles are that the PHEV batteries can be smaller by one-third or more and there is never any "range anxiety." Whenever the electric fuel is depleted to a minimum the vehicle can continue to travel seamlessly using liquid fuel.

Our society has evolved with gasoline stations and electric outlets as the primary energy distribution infrastructure. Currently, our modern electric infrastructure is greatly over designed due to the need to satisfy peak demand which may only occur once a year. Thus there is over capacity built into the existing electric distribution and generation system. This excess can be used to fuel PHEVs and improve the efficiency of electricity and distribution. The network of gasoline stations can be adapted for sale of renewable biofuels. Thus, no big change in energy infrastructure is needed.

PHEVs can efficiently use our existing energy distribution infrastructure to transition the world from fossil fuel dependency to the clean, green, renewable fuels of the future. They can replace our fossil fuel vehicles with no sacrifices in cost, performance or convenience. As the number of PHEVs increases, the energy distribution infrastructure can be seamlessly adjusted for a smooth transition to a sustainable future of renewable fuels. Oil and coal should then be used for more valuable recyclable products. The technology needed to achieve these goals is here today and is being further improved as time goes on. Thus, the PHEV is not only the vehicle of the future but it may also be the solution to our energy and climate change dilemma.