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USA: Plug-In Hybrids’ Fuel Economy Lookin’ Up In Seattle

A test fleet of plug-in hybrids cruising around Seattle averaged 57 mpg in June. Although that’s well short of the 100 mpg often touted for such cars, officials monitoring the fleet say it’s a “real world” figure they’re pleased with.

Seattle outfitted 14 Toyota Prius hybrids with plug-in conversion kits more than a year ago to see what the technology could do. The trial is one of several that Idaho National Laboratory is monitoring nationwide. When we wrote about the program earlier this year, the cars had racked up about 17,000 miles and averaged 51 mpg. That prompted some people to wonder if plug-ins offer more hype than hope.

But the cars are showing steady improvement, said Scott Thomsen of Seattle City Light, one of the agencies testing the cars. The fleet averaged 57 mpg in June, the latest month for which data were available. The fuel economy during charge-depleting mode — when the electric motor is doing most of the work, with the gasoline engine occasionally coming in for a little extra oomph — climbed to an average of 69 mpg.



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