LOS ANGELES – The South Coast Air Quality Management District in California has agreed to spend $2.6 million for a five-test fleet of 30 plug-in hybrid cars and SUVs, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper. The vehicles would be used by businesses and public agencies throughout the air quality district, which covers Orange County and large parts of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. have said they intend to build plug-ins but are waiting for stronger, lighter, and more reliable and durable batteries than those available. A standard hybrid can travel solely on electric power at very low speeds for short distances. But the vehicles requested by the air quality district would be able to travel as far as 30 miles using battery power alone or as a booster to the gas engine. The enhanced batteries also could enable the vehicles to achieve fuel economy of 60 to 100 mpg of gasoline, depending on daily driving demands, the report said. Contracts were awarded to Quantum Technologies Inc. of Irvine, Calif., and Hymotion of Toronto, Canada, to prepare a plug-in test fleet. Quantum, which also develops hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen storage systems, received $2 million to buy and convert 20 of Ford Motor Co.’s Escape gasoline-electric hybrid SUVs. The Escapes will use batteries from Advanced Lithium Power Inc., a Vancouver, Canada, company in which Quantum is a 20-percent stakeholder. Hymotion, which sells plug-in conversion kits for the Escape and Prius hybrids, was awarded $560,000 to turn 10 standard Prius models into plug-ins. The cars will use batteries from A123Systems Inc. of Watertown, Mass., according to the Los Angeles Times.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials