A recent article in North Carolina´s The News & Observer has highlighted a Raleigh-based company, Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC), that has four employees and can retrofit a Prius in about four hours for a cost of $10,400. The AVRC is one of eight US companies authorized to install lithium ion batteries manufactured by 23 Systems, a Massachusetts company. AVRC´s converted Priuses can get from anywhere between 60 and 100 mpg, depending on driving habits, which roughly doubles the gas mileage of a standard Prius. Advanced Energy, a Raleigh nonprofit research organization and one of AVRC´s customers, has even exceeded 200 mpg in a test under optimal conditions. The conversion process is relatively uncomplicated. The mechanics remove the spare tire in the trunk, and replace it with a 170-pound lithium ion battery pack, like a much larger version of a cell phone battery. A plug from the back of the bumper can be inserted into a conventional wall outlet, where a full charge lasts about 3.5 hours and costs less than 75 cents. The modified Prius draws from the new battery first, giving the car a range of about 35 miles on all-electric power, making gasoline optional on short commutes. When the battery is depleted, the Prius runs like a standard hybrid, using its gas engine and regenerative braking to charge its nickel metal hydride battery.According to the Plug-In Hybrid Coalition of the Carolinas, there are about 150 plug-in hybrids on US roads today. Most of the AVRC´s customers have been corporations with large fleets, but they recently made their first conversion for an individual. Their clients include Progress Energy, Duke Energy, the city of Raleigh, and North Carolina State University´s Advanced Transportation Energy Center. These organizations are tracking and sending data on the cars to the Idaho National Laboratory, a federal research institute that is studying plug-in hybrids.The plug-in modifications aren´t authorized or endorsed by Toyota, which plans to make its own Prius plug-in commercially available in 2010 in the US. Also in 2010, Chevrolet plans to release the Volt (which runs on the same 23 lithium ion battery used by AVRC), which is expected to be more economical than AVRC´s conversions. The AVRC acknowledges that $10,400 is a hefty price tag for the average driver – AVRC founder and president Richard Dell estimates that it could take 140,000 miles to recover the cost through fuel savings. But the important thing is that they´ve demonstrated that the technology is viable and available right now. “It´s given us more confidence that it´s not a matter of if plug-in vehicles will happen, but when,” said Mike Rowand, Duke Energy´s director of advanced customer technologies.More information: The Advanced Vehicle Research Centervia: The News & Observer The Advanced Vehicle Research Center is converting Toyota Priuses into electric plug-in hybrids for a cost of $10,400. Image credit: The Advanced Vehicle Research Center. Although many people would like to drive more fuel-efficient vehicles, most of us have to wait for the large vehicle manufacturers to mass-produce affordable cars that run on alternative power. In the meantime, a handful of smaller companies have begun taking the energy crisis into their own hands. By retrofitting hybrids like the Toyota Prius with a second battery pack, they´re converting these cars into hybrid plug-ins that can recharge from a wall outlet and drive a short commute on all electric power. Citation: 100-mpg plug-in hybrids popping up in US (2008, September 10) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2008-09-mpg-plug-in-hybrids.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
The rise of the sharing economy over the past few years has shifted mindsets and traditional business models. Consumers are much more open to renting items and services from individuals instead of established businesses and organizations. This is shaking up engrained business models and allowing for new possibilities in the global marketplace. The peer-to-peer sharing models, like Spinlister (where I work) and Lyft, offer new and unique options for transportation at your fingertips.Related: 8 Ways the ‘Internet of Things’ Will Impact Your Everyday LifeSharing has gone mobile. A decade ago the sharing economy was fragmented and limited in its practical use. First, people had to accept the idea of sharing. People had to be willing to trust the community and take a risk on another person actually delivering that good or service.Second, when people began sharing they were unable to do so on a global level. That made it difficult to sustain any real income. Before mobile devices were widely available, sharing was limited to informal personal networks or websites offering limited services via the Internet. AirBNB probably would have succeeded regardless of mobile technology, but what about the other major players that help drive the sharing economy as a whole?Advances in mobile technology have propelled an entirely new marketplace with people sharing everything. More importantly, it has made the fulfillment of immediate or impulsive needs possible and convenient. It helps complete transactions that start online, coordinate multiple parties and make the entire experience frictionless.Sharing would struggle if it weren’t convenient and it would never be convenient without mobile technology. People are constantly on the go and busy. If an item they’re trying to share is on their person, they need a way to update the location of those goods to be truly useful and frictionless for both sides. Mobile technologies have opened the doors for people to effortlessly share goods and make money.The realization that idle goods can generate significant income, and mobile technology makes sharing those goods easy, has transformed the sharing economy into a multi-billion dollar industry. A recent internal study commissioned by us at Spinlister found that only 4 percent of Americans have used AirBNB or Uber. Imagine how big the sharing economy will be once it hits 20, 30, 40, or 50 percent saturation.Related: The Internet of Things May See Huge Growth, So Companies Want in NowSharing in an interconnected era. I was recently discussing a concept called The Internet of Things (IoT) with a brilliant young engineer working within an exclusive technology development department at a major electronics company. There is a race to develop hard goods that both serve a function and connect directly to the Internet, other goods and devices. That information can be relayed into third party applications.For Instance, imagine you need a eight-foot step ladder. With IoT, you could locate the ladder nearest to you. Add that data to a sharing economy platform and you could share almost every object you own! This is an extreme example but it illustrates how mobilization technology will expand the sharing economy in the future.While practical use of this technology is likely five to 10 years out for major product lines, I expect these applications will trickle down to everyday goods over the next decade or two. Within that time frame I also expect the sharing economy to mature, more major players will emerge and a critical mass of people will regularly use a sharing economy platform.Once IoT is added into the equation, people will start thinking of mobility in terms outside of their mobile phones. This “mobility of things” will open the door to the sharing of almost everything you can think of. It will be easy, fluid, cheap and revenue generating.The sharing economy movement is the gold rush of our generation. The advances in mobile technology will strengthen the marketplace while making it easier and more convenient for all parties involved to participate.Related: What’s the Right Path for Startups Entering the ‘Internet of Things’? 4 min read September 22, 2014 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Register Now »