New From Google Labs: Google Prius Dealership
The auto and oil industries may not have Killed the Electric Car so much as knocked it unconscious for a decade or so. With gasoline now selling at more than $3-a-gallon in many states and an increased awareness of the energy and global-warming crises, the electric car has been aroused back to consciousness. And soon it will become part of the popular culture–at least if Google has anything to say about it.
This morning the company launched its first significant philanthropic initiative—an $11 million effort to speed development of the plug-in hybrid electric car. Dubbed RechargeIT, the project is essentially a test bed for vehicle-to-grid technology that will enable hybrids to run partly on electricity from the power grid and also to give electricity back to the power company.
“Linking the U.S. transportation system to the electricity grid maximizes the efficiency of our energy system,” Dan Reicher, director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for Google.org, wrote on the organization’s Web site. “Our goal is to demonstrate the plug-in hybrid and V2G technology, get people excited about having their own plug-in hybrid, and encourage car companies to start building them soon.”
RechargeIT is launching with six power-saving Google cars, but eventually plans to have 100 that can be used as part of a car-sharing program. That’s enough cars to start a small dealership, but Reicher is quick to note that the program is a science project and not one of Google’s varied new business initiatives. “Google is not going to get into the business of building and selling hybrid electrics,” Reicher said. “Our focus is on accelerating their developing through research, testing and investment.”