Skip to main content My Account Off-Campus Access Give 24/7 Chat Meet with a Librarian Directory Library Services Technical Support Submit a Digital Sign Give Newsletters Social Media
Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Andrew “Andy” Frank, who has been called “The Father of the Modern Plug-In Hybrid,” with a group of students studying electric car models in 1992. (UC Davis Library/Archives and Special Collections)

Plug-in Electric Vehicles Archive to be Housed at UC Davis Library

During National Drive Electric Week, the University of California, Davis today, September 27, announced that it has begun to build a Plug-in Electric Vehicles Archive. It will be housed at the UC Davis Library’s Archives and Special Collections with support from the UC Davis Electric Vehicle Research Center.

The archive will focus on the decades-long story of how plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) — long seen as a science project — shifted from prototypes and modifications to mass production. The archive will help chronicle the development and commercialization of all varieties of electric vehicles, highlighting the unique role that UC Davis played in this process.

UC Davis has been involved through both the College of Engineering, with leadership from Andy Frank in mechanical engineering, and through the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) under the leadership of Dan Sperling.  

Gil Tal, EV Research Center Director; Dan Sperling, Institute of Transportation Studies Founder and Director; Dahlia Garas, EV Research Center Research Program Director; Felix Kramer, and WeCantWait.World Founder; Andy Frank, UC Davis Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Christopher NItta, UC Davis Associate Professor; Mark Duvall, General Manager, HeyCharge; Rob Schrhoff, Electric Power Research Institute Senior Technical Leader

The collection will include the unique records and memorabilia from two key players:

  • Andy Frank, called “The Father of the Modern Plug-In Hybrid.” He started working on PHEVs 50 years ago at the University of Wisconsin. As a UC Davis professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, with students in “Team Fate,” he built a series of PHEV conversions that caught the attention of both EV fans and automakers. As he turns 90, he is actively involved in advancing Strong Plug-in Hybrids (SPHEVs).
  • Felix Kramer, founder of the California Cars Initiative. The DIY hybrid conversions by his organization sparked a coalition of activists, advocates, analysts and entrepreneurs. They inspired and prodded the auto industry in a successful campaign from 2002-2010 that led to the arrival of the Chevy Volt, and later, many other PHEVs.

The archive will feature unique digital and physical materials that showcase the engineering developments and grassroots efforts that led to the mass production of PHEVs by automakers today.

A public event related to the archive will be held online, at 1 p.m. PT on Oct. 1, coinciding with the final day of National Drive Electric Week.

The archive is currently being processed, and the library anticipates it will be available for research, study, and instruction by the end of 2024.

Members of the public with memorabilia or other materials related to the history of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles at UC Davis can contact the library’s Head of Archives and Special Collections Kevin Miller at or 530-752-2114.

Media Contacts

This story originally appeared in UC Davis News on September 27, 2023.


Announcements Archives and Special Collections Campus and Local History


Andy Frank College of Engineering Donor Spotlights electric vehicles Felix Kramer Institute of Transportation Studies PHEVs Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles