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Runs on Rays In 2006, we converted three Toyota Priuses into Plug-in hybrids by installing an additional battery pack in each of the trunks. Each pack provides additional electric capacity to the vehicle and plugs in to a 120V outlet. To “green” the whole process even more, we then built a 4-kilowatt solar array capable of providing all of the electricity needed to charge the vehicles. Which means we’re able to displace the gasoline with sunshine to run the vehicle!
To make these conversions, we used A123 Hymotion conversion kits. Unfortunately, these kits are no longer available for individual sale. The good news is that they aren’t for sale because the technology is now sold directly to automakers to use in assembly line production of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Bucket Trucks We also applied hybrid technology to a new bucket truck that allows it run on a combination of biodiesel and batteries. As Rebecca Towne, GMP’s fleet manager said, “Our customers will immediately notice a difference if the hybrid truck is operating in their neighborhood. Lineworkers generally need to run a conventional truck’s motor to use equipment on the truck, but a hybrid can run off batteries for up to 20 minutes, which reduces inefficient idling, noise, and exhaust at the jobsite.” The new hybrid truck is expected to lower fuel usage up to 60%; decrease idling time by 87%, saving fuel and reducing noise; and lower maintenance costs due to reduced use of the diesel engine.
Like other hybrids, the system stores energy normally lost during braking to charge the batteries. At low speeds, charged batteries power the electric motor that assists the diesel engine, increasing fuel economy and reducing emissions. We love this technology so much that as older trucks and cars need replacement, we will replace them with hybrids. GEM Cars As part of our effort to constantly find news ways to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint, we have made fully-electric GEM cars available to our employees to use for quick errands like going to lunch, heading out for a local meeting, or just a quick trip around town. We wanted to share with you how much we like cruising around in our GEMs, so take a minute or two to see them in action.