PHEVs in the Spotlight

PHEVs in the Spotlight

Mayor Gavin Newsom is laying the groundwork for future pilot programs that will lead to the city’s early adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

The mayor wants to identify vendors, nonprofits and service providers with whom the city can collaborate to establish the electric car charging infrastructure, billing systems and other details needed to drive market acceptance of the vehicles.

Mayor Newsom issued the request for information Monday, the first day in a week already brimming with PHEV news. The Plug-In 2008 conference also kicked off Tuesday in San Jose.

General Motors, for instance, announced plans to join more than 30 utilities across the country to chart a course for mass introduction of PHEVs into the market. GM’s PHEV, the Chevy Volt, should hit showrooms across the U.S. in 2010. The collaboration will focus on ensuring that an influx of PHEVs don’t wreak havoc on the nation’s electrical grid.

Separately, Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. partnered with Tennessee to study ways of establishing a network of charging stations needed to support electric vehicles in the state. Renault-Nissan has already joined with Portugal, Israel and Denmark to establish a charging infrastructure before the electric cars hit the market.

Also this week, Raser Technologies announced plans to develop a plug-in electric drive system for light trucks, such as the Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram. The company claims the 200 kilowatt electric motor and lithium ion battery would let the trucks get more than 100 miles per gallon.

The company is nearly finished developing a plug-in hybrid electric SUV, which is currently being tested by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.