Wow, this is great news for those of us who would like to see electric cars go mainstream. Yesterday, Google switched on the 1.6 megawatts solar roof on its corporate campus. The roof will provide about one third of the company’s electricity. Google also announced plans to accelerate the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Google.Org is awarding $1 million in grants to projects related to plug-in hybrid cars, and has announced plans to award a further $10 million in grants. Google has also unveiled a new employee parking garage where drivers can charge their plug-in cars, powering up their batteries using solar energy.
Because automobile manufacturers aren’t producing plug-ins, Google is converting hybrid cars into plug-ins. So far, it has converted four Toyota Prius and two Ford Escapes. On its RechargeIT web site, Google is posting data on the performance of the cars. Eventually, the company plans to have 100 such plug-in cars that employees who take public transportation to the office will be able to use to run errands during their work days as part of a car-sharing program.
Here’s some video from Google about the program:
Google’s has four Priuses: two standard hybrids and two plug-in hybrids. They have them outfitted with vehicle sensors so that you can see day to day how each one is doing in various types of driving conditions. So far the plug-in hybrid models are getting 73.6 MPG, compared to 40.9 MPG for the hybrid models (both numbers are averages).