Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide has been awarded a $US2.1m contract by California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to develop and demonstrate plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Quantum will supply 20 Ford Escape PHEVs for demonstration in Southern California.

Under this contract, Quantum will develop a plug-in hybrid version of the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid.  The PHEV system will be based on integrating a lithium ion battery pack and management system from Quantum partner Advanced Lithium Power (ALP).

ALP’s plug-in hybrid battery system will be designed to achieve a target of 35-40 miles of battery-only range. Extensive analysis and testing, including vehicle crash testing as well as fuel mileage and emissions performance, will be completed on the Ford Escape PHEV prior to the field demonstration to ensure the safety, performance, and reliability of the vehicles.

The AQMD has been a leader in developing and demonstrating plug-in hybrid technologies that overall have potential for lower criteria pollutant emissions and zero local emissions during portions of the commute when vehicles are operating on battery only.

AQMD’s draft 2007 Air Quality Management Plan calls for 100,000 PHEVs by 2014 in the South Coast Air Basin and up to one million PHEVs by 2020.

The AQMD also believes that PHEVs can be an enabling technology for all types of alternative fuels, such as CNG and hydrogen, by reducing the size of the most costly components (eg gaseous storage tanks and the fuel cell stack) and relying more heavily on the battery system.