Plug-in convention takes place in San Jose

July 23, 2008 4:59:00 AM PDT
Industry experts and car manufacturers are in the South Bay this week for the first ever conference on plug-in cars, but Tuesday night for three hours the public had a chance to check out the latest electric car technology.

For the first time since the start of San Jose's plug-in conference, the exhibit hall was filled not with analysts or car manufacturers, but average drivers.

"If they made motor homes out of those hybrids I think it'd be an excellent idea," said a driver.

For three hours, the public got to see the latest trends and products in the plug-in hybrid world. It's a concept that's catching on in a time when gas prices continue to rise.

"If you don't buy your plug in car now or in the near future, then down the road, when you're buying gas, you may be paying $6 a gallon or $10 a gallon " said Anne Cavazos, a San Ramon resident.

"If you could get a full charge without spending any money on gas, it's definitely going to help out," says Charlotte Brien, a San Jose resident.

A full eight-hour charge on a plug-in hybrid will cost a $1.28 and take you 40 miles. To go that same distance in an average car, it would take more than a gallon of gas, and cost about $5.

With interest in electric cars clearly high, those at U.C. Davis's electric vehicle research center looked into whether California's power grid could handle a million plug-in cars over a 10 year period.

"We have a sort of smart grid where we're managing all of those loads, we're confident we can go well beyond that one million plug in hybrids," says Tom Turrentine, from U.C. Davis.

The key is making sure people are charging at different times. It's something the City of San Jose will track through public charging stations. Come November, electric car users can pull up and re-charge their cars in public lots. However, considering plug-ins are still new to the market, the boxes won't be getting much use.

"With the price for a gallon of gas at around $4.50 in the Bay Area, drivers want relief now, but car makers like Ford and G.M. won't have a plug in available for consumers until at least, 2010.


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