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phev.jpgThe first ever Hybridfest pulled into Madison, WI, last weekend to show off the latest and greatest in hybrid car technology. Hybrids from 21 states and Canada sipped gas on their way to the great city of Madison (disclaimer: we live here).

Hybridfest featured hybrids of "all shapes, sizes and colors," lectures on new technologies, and hybrid-mods with lightning bolt paint jobs. Proud owners of all 10 commercial hybrids compared notes on fuel efficiency and competed in a 20-mile open road course for the highest MPG. Hypermiler Wayne Gerdes pulsed and glided his way to a 150 MPG victory in a modified Insight. And Insights weren't the only impressive mods.

Hymotion showcased a pair of 100+ MPG plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The Canadian company converts the Toyota Prius, Ford Escape, and Mercury Mariner hybrids into PHEVs by installing a lithium ion polymer battery that can be charged from a household outlet in 4-6 hours for about 30 cents. The fuel efficiency for short trips (half of American cars travel under 25 miles per day) jumps to 500 MPG. Conversion kits are currently available only for government and fleet use, but should be open to consumers by October. The target price is $9500, which they hope to lower in the future to access the mass market.

The University of Wisconsin Hybrid Vehicle Team's Moovada also caught our eye. The diesel hybrid electric vehicle is a child of the Challenge X - crossover to sustainable mobility contest. The team modified a Chevy Equinox SUV to run with a diesel engine and a regenerative braking system that powers the rear wheels. They squeezed out 35 MPG, a 60% increase over the stock model. B-20 powers Moovada, although the team rep assured us it could handle pure biodiesel.

Cars weren't the only hybrids being shown off at Hybridfest. GreenStar Homes was exhibiting their Hybrid House Technology that aims to reduce environmental impact through increases in energy efficiency. They work with Crescendo Design, whose entry in the Cradle-to-Cradle design competition was chosen for construction, to integrate four themes: Energy (Solar PV and hot water), Performance (insulation and siting), Monitoring (Real-time tracking and analysis), Certification (Energy star and Green Built standards).

If enthusiasm is any indication, then Hybridfest achieved its purpose to "promote awareness and understanding of hybrid electric vehicles." Cutting-edge mods contributed to the enthusiasm, but hybirds entering the mainstream made the event truly special. If the mundane is the hallmark of successful design, hybrids are getting damn close.

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Wow! That's some cool technology coming down the pike!

Thanks for your continued stream of great articles, guys!

Posted by: Billy Joe on 29 Jul 06

Another great article from David and Chad. I wish I hadn't missed Hybridfest, since I work in and live near Madison. What's the best online source for hearing about sustainability based events before they happen?

Posted by: Paul Zimmerman on 29 Jul 06

Hi Paul and the rest of the Madisonian WCers-
The two sources that come to mind are:
Sustain Dane
Environmental Events from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Posted by: David Zaks on 29 Jul 06

Great article - interesting to hear about what might be coming down the line for consumer hybrids. Very exciting. Now if only they could ramp up supply to match demand in order to actually have some vehicles on dealer lots available for test drives.

LED Rope Lights

Posted by: Tim on 1 Aug 06



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