Columbus, Neb. – A joint demonstration project being conducted between General Motors (GM), the Electric Power Research Institute, and Nebraska Public Power District, will introduce a new Chevrolet Volt into the District’s vehicle fleet.
The Volt, a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV), is the most fuel-efficient vehicle available in the United States, with the equivalent of 93 miles per gallon in an all-electric mode and 37 miles per gallon in an electric-gas combination. The composite rating for the vehicle is 60 miles per gallon. The Volt has a 1.4 Liter 4-cylinder motor connected to two electricity generators and two electric motors that power the vehicle. The vehicle also has a 16 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery to store energy taken from the grid when plugged-in and from the on-board generators.
The public will have an opportunity over the next few weeks to see the vehicle during the Nebraska State Fair August 26 through September 5 in Grand Island. It will also be on display and demonstrated during NPPD’s monthly Board of Director’s meeting September 7-8 in Columbus. After its debut, the Volt will begin its duties as an NPPD fleet vehicle and will be deployed at various locations across the state over the next two years.
The two-year demonstration project will work to ensure safe and convenient electric vehicle charging, raise public awareness and understanding of plug-in electric vehicles, assist electric utilities in determining the support for charging vehicles, and help public policy leaders better understand how electricity can be used as a vehicle fuel source. The program is made possible in part by a $30.5 million grant administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Recovery Act Transportation Electrification Initiative.
“NPPD will be able to get a first-hand evaluation of a plug-in-electric vehicle in a real world environment,” said Alan Dostal, who heads NPPD’s Domestic Energy and Research Initiative. “Using this vehicle will provide a realistic way to evaluate the effects of utility employee and consumer PEV charging patterns on utility systems.”
Information on vehicle use, charging, and other data will be downloaded to EPRI using GM’s On-Star system. EPRI will evaluate the data and share that information among 61 participating utilities.
Dostal pointed out that the combination of using electricity as a transportation fuel, in combination with gasoline for vehicle range extension, will result in a significantly lower cost per mile. “When used as a transportation fuel, electricity costs about 75 cents a gallon equivalent” he pointed out. The national average for a gallon of gas has been between $3.59 and $3.69 per gallon in recent weeks. For now, electric vehicles do not have to pay a road tax. This is likely to change as more and more electric vehicles take the road.
In anticipation of the need for charging stations for PEVs, NPPD installed three units at its new Norfolk Operations Center that opened in 2010. Based on the rate of electric vehicle adoption, the District could add charging stations at its facilities throughout the state in the future. “We are committed to developing the necessary infrastructure to support the widespread use of electric vehicles, because we believe they will save our customers money, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and help protect the environment,” Dostal added.
The Volt’s extended-range capability offers a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank.