SAN DIEGO – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) unveiled San Diego’s first state-of-the-art plug-in hybrid electric vehicles as part of a demonstration project to study the performance and potential of plug-in hybrids to improve gas mileage and reduce emissions.

Plug-in hybrids recharge their batteries by plugging into a standard 110-volt outlet. Because the vehicles run in electric mode more often than standard hybrid cars, gas mileage is improved to more than twice that of today’s best hybrids, up to 80 to 100 miles per gallon. Plug-in hybrids also could cut greenhouse gas emissions in half, helping to meet California’s goals for reducing greenhouse gases, air pollution, and dependence on petroleum.

In response to increasing customer interest in electric transportation alternatives, SDG&E’s Clean Transportation Program evaluated two hybrid electric vehicles for six months keeping track of gas mileage, operating costs, safety, maintenance, electricity use, metering needs, and drivers’ experiences. Once these same cars are converted to plug-in hybrids, they will be studied over the next six months using the same criteria. The study results will be published in 2008. Utility officials said these converted plug-in hybrids will be close to what the major vehicle manufacturers will produce commercially by 2009-10.

SDG&E currently serves 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 830,000 natural gas meters. The utility’s service area spans 4,100 square miles and serves customers in more than 125 communities from Southern Orange County to the Mexican border. SDG&E is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy.