Alternative vehicle technologies
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is running a number of initiatives and trials to explore the opportunities and barriers to electric vehicles in NSW.
SWITCH: plug-in hybrid electric vehicle conversion
SWITCH is the name given to Australia's first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which was launched in April 2009.
The prototype was developed by researchers at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, with funding from the NSW Government. SWITCH is unique as it runs on both an internal combustion engine and electric power, and can also feed electricity back into the grid. The research team adapted the car from a standard Toyota Prius by adding extra batteries, controls and connections so that it can charge from, or feed back into, a household's mains power supply.
The car is being trialled as part of the OEH vehicle fleet to test fuel efficiency, how much electricity is used, greenhouse gas emissions generated and the air pollution saved. The additional batteries give the vehicle a greater full-electric range which decreases fuel consumption and pollution. Like photovoltaic solar panels, SWITCH can feed electricity back into the grid through an inverter.
SWITCH's performance, including fuel efficiency, electricity use and capacity to feed back to the grid, is being monitored in collaboration with EnergyAustralia. Once the project is more established and trend information becomes available, OEH will make the vehicle's fuel and energy data available online.
The early results, however, are encouraging. After commissioning issues were resolved, SWITCH achieved average fuel consumption of around 5 litres/100 kilometres while operating in mainly urban conditions. This places it in the top 10 most fuel-efficient vehicles in Australia. It is anticipated SWITCH can achieve efficiencies of as low as 2 L/100 km under EcoDriving conditions.
For more information about plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, go to frequently asked questions.
Follow SWITCH's performance through the regular updates posted on the car’s social media pages: Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
i-MiEV electric vehicle trial
OEH has been trialling a Mitsubishi iMiEV (Innovative Mitsubishi Electric Vehicle) in a three-year lease agreement since September 2010. The trial is being run by the NSW Government's StateFleet.
NSW was one of 40 iMiEV Foundation Partners who accepted the Mitsubishi electric vehicle in its first roll-out in Australia. The NSW Government was the first government agency in the country to trial the iMiEV in an extended evaluation earlier in 2010. Participation in the trial does not commit the Government to supporting or assisting Mitsubishi in the future.
OEH is using iMiEVs in its vehicle fleet to monitor their performance under Australian driving conditions.
With about 25,000 vehicles in the NSW Government fleet, electric vehicles have the potential to make massive savings in carbon emissions. The number of green and hybrid technology vehicles in the NSW StateFleet has more than doubled since 2005 to almost 400, while more efficient small and medium cars now make up the majority of cars in the passenger fleet. The NSW Government's Cleaner Government Fleet memorandum to agencies includes a target of 5% hybrid vehicles in fleets, including plug-in hybrid electric and electric vehicles, by 2015.
- can carry four occupants and has a top speed of 130 km/h
- has a range of up to 160 km per charge and can be fully charged from a 15 Amp electricity supply in approximately seven hours (under Mitsubishi test conditions)
- is one of the first mass-produced electric vehicles in the world
- is the first electric vehicle to be fully certified by the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
OEH's electric vehicle charging station
As an educational demonstration and to increase public acceptance of electric vehicles, OEH has leased an electric vehicle charging station from ChargePoint Australia. International social research into electric vehicles has found the perception that electric vehicles have a limited driving range is the strongest barrier to their uptake.
The charging station, installed outside the agency's Goulburn Street, Sydney office is powered by 100% GreenPower.
OEH will use the station during working hours for its own electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid SWITCH vehicle, as both a functional charging facility and public information display. A similar charging station has been operating in inner city Glebe for nearly six months for a car-share company.
Hybrid bus trial
OEH is contributing towards a diesel electric hybrid bus trial being conducted by the Department of Transport.
The department is trialling two diesel electric hybrid buses during 2011 and testing them against a range of operational performance indicators, including fuel efficiency, emissions reduction and passenger experience. Data from the buses will be collected throughout the trial and tests will analyse their performance across a range of operating conditions and routes.
The project has the potential to achieve significant greenhouse savings. Other trials of diesel electric hybrid bus technology have found reductions in fuel consumption of around 20%, with potential greenhouse savings of between 7.5 and 11.9 tonnes per annum compared with a standard bus.
Page last updated: 13 September 2011