Last summer Google.org launched the RechargeIT program, an initiative to accelerate the commercialization of plug-in vehicles. As part of this project, we created the GFleet, a free car-sharing program for Google employees. The GFleet includes a handful of hybrid vehicles converted to plug-ins with a Hymotion conversion module.
Our plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have been on the road for about a year now, and the RechargeIT team has been diligently collecting statistics on their performance. We noticed that employees primarily use our plug-ins for short trips close to our headquarters, so the data weren't truly representative of typical U.S. driving patterns. We were curious to see how the cars would perform under controlled conditions - and how they would stack up against other conventional automobiles typically found in U.S. households. With that, the RechargeIT Driving Experiment was born!
In total, it took just over seven weeks to complete all the trips in all the vehicles. And with the results in, our plug-ins did great, with the Priuses getting more than 90 miles per gallon. The PHEVs not only greatly outperformed the average American fleet fuel economy of 19.8 MPG, they did significantly better than the standard hybrids – 53% fuel economy improvement for the plug-in Ford Escape and 93% improvement for the plug-in Prius.
Check out our newly improved RechargeIT website for more details on our Driving Experiment.