Berkeley joins clamor for plug-in hybrid vehicles
By Emmett Berg, Bay City News Service
October 31, 2006
Berkeley is the latest Bay Area government to promise purchase
of a fleet of plug-in hybrid vehicles once an automaker begins
producing such cars commercially, city leaders announced today.
Berkeley's "soft order" for 40 plug-in hybrids is similar
to a decision last month by Marin County to place a "soft
order" for 22 of the vehicles. The order is called "soft"
because carmakers don't currently make plug-in hybrids.
"With Marin, Berkeley and other soft orders being placed
around the country, automakers can no longer deny the growing
demand for plug-in vehicles," said Jodie Van Horn, coordinator
of the advocacy organization Plug-In Bay Area.
To make a plug-in model, the Palo Alto-based California Cars
Initiative has individually modified hybrid cars such as the Toyota
Prius by adding additional batteries and a conventional power
Motorists can drive those modified plug-in hybrids up to 100
miles on electricity alone, advocates said, which more than doubles
the current fuel efficiency of a Prius, at about 45-50 miles per
Advocates say plug-ins could make driving around town an all-electric,
zero-emissions experience, while maintaining the capacity to burn
gasoline on longer-distance trips.
"Plug-in hybrids will help our city save money and improve
air quality while contributing to national efforts to break our
oil addiction," Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said. "I encourage
the automakers to start building these innovative vehicles soon
so that we can turn this soft order into a real one."
In addition to Berkeley and Marin County, other Bay Area agencies
and governments supporting the goals of plug-in vehicles include
San Francisco, Alameda, Oakland, the Sonoma County Water Agency
and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
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