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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor unveils city of Seattle's first 100 mpg plug-in hybrid car

5/30/2008  12:12:00 PM
Rich Feldman, 206.684-7037

Mayor unveils city of Seattle's first 100 mpg plug-in hybrid car
Year-long demonstration project to test performance in an urban area

SEATTLE- Mayor Greg Nickels today unveiled the first of four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles the city of Seattle will test over the next year. The project will test technology used to convert four existing Priuses in the city's fleet to 100-miles-per-gallon vehicles.

"With gas prices exceeding $4 a gallon and climbing, we must accelerate our efforts to develop clean and cost-effective alternatives to gas-fueled vehicles," said Nickels. "This project is part of the city's strategy to be on the cutting edge of energy, building and transportation technology, paving the way for others to learn our lessons.

Last October, the city of Seattle joined with the Port of Seattle, King County and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to test the performance of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in an urban area. With funding from the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) matched by the participants, 13 Priuses are being converted to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The total cost is $156,000.

The city of Seattle will operate four of the converted Priuses, King County will operate four, the Port of Seattle will have two and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will have three. The plug-in conversion kits are provided by A123Systems of Watertown, Mass.

The PHEV is the successor to the conventional hybrid, which is charged by on-board electrical systems. The PHEV has a second "fuel tank" in the form of a longer-lasting battery that can be "filled" from an ordinary socket at a cost equivalent to less than $1 per gallon of gasoline.

Achieving up to 100 mpg, PHEV's are just one more step in the city's fight against climate disruption with the added benefit of ultimately reducing dependence on foreign oil. Expected greenhouse gas emissions from the PHEV Priuses in this demonstration project are up to 50 percent less than conventional Priuses.

In a year, a plug-in Prius driven a typical mix of 12,000 city and highway miles is estimated to consume the equivalent of the energy used in three to five months by an electric water heater in a three-person household (based on 540 kWh per month).

Three of the four city of Seattle Priusesare used by City Light and the other is in the city's general-use motor pool. With 330 Priuses in its fleet, Seattlehas the largest fleet of Priuses in the state. In addition, the city fleet includes 47 smaller electric vehicles, including 22 scooters, two electric bikes, one neighborhood electric cart and 22 Segways.

The plug-in Prius conversions cost $12,000 per vehicle. The conversion includes the installation of equipment by Seattle company V2Green that will automatically collect "on-road" data from each vehicle. The data gathered will add to the INL's growing database on PHEV's and support the federal government's vehicle development projects. V2Green's equipment will also allow Seattle City Light to remotely control vehicle charging.

When fully commercialized, PHEV's will be able to run for up to 40 miles on electric power alone, after which the vehicle reverts to standard hybrid operation. As a result, PHEV's have the potential to reduce the need for oil. And the environmental benefits increase as the North American electric power grid becomes greener.

For more information about the city of Seattle's climate protection activities, visit this Web site:

Visit the mayor's Web site at Get the mayor's inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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