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State & Local Governments Test Plug-in Cars

State and local governments are testing hybrid electric-gas vehicles that recharge from a wall socket for their car and bus fleets, CNET reports.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority recently solicited contract bids for nine plug-ins. If the trial succeeds, the state will try to convert the 535 hybrids it owns into plug-ins. The anticipated budget for the program is $10 million.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District in California is conducting a three-year test on a couple of plug-in vehicles, and the city of Austin, Texas, last year teamed up with the local power company to launch a $1 million plug-in incentive program. Also in California, San Francisco has ordered diesel hybrids from DaimlerChrysler for its municipal transportation fleet.

“Everybody is still in the testing phase, but the testing is becoming more mature,” said Marc Kohler, the business development manger at Valence Technology. “People are looking at crash testing and cold-weather testing.”

It costs about $10,000 to $12,000 to convert a car like a Prius into a plug-in and hybrids cost around $3,000 more than an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle.

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