Plug-in hybrid cars tested

Manitoba officials say their efforts to use plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are helping researchers at the University of Manitoba.

WINNIPEG — Manitoba officials say their efforts to use plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are helping researchers at the University of Manitoba.

Technology Minister Jim Rondeau says the program will help determine how the increased use of electric and hybrid vehicles will impact the province’s power supply.

It will also help figure out who ends up paying to charge electric vehicles than can plug into any outlet.

Provincial officials, including Rondeau, are currently test-driving four older-model Toyota Priuses that have been converted to plug-in hybrids by the university researchers.

Rondeau says the project will make the province ready to meet the power demand when such cars become a mass-market item; plug-in hybrids cannot yet be sold commercially.

Currently, there are 2,175 regular hybrid vehicles registered in Manitoba. “The electric car offers a huge opportunity,” Rondeau said. “This isn’t a thing for Manitoba. It’s a thing for the world because the policies we’re deciding on the grid and on the billing will set the base. ”