Saturday, November 29, 2008

Toyota Prius Plug-In kit

Yesterday, I talked about OEM plug-in hybrid vehicles, which are currently non-existent. Today, I would like to discuss something more tangible, namely after-market conversion kits for the 2004 to 2008 model year Toyota Prius. The initiative to convert a Prius for plug-in capability can be traced to Felix Kramer and Ron Gremban of the California Cars Initiative. Felix has been the spearhead, mouthpiece and advocate for the benefits of plug-in hybrid vehicles and Ron has been his more-than-capable technical lead. They are tireless and relentless in spreading the word and indeed, have made it all the way to Washington.

What Felix and Ron have proven is that it is possible to convert a stock Prius with extra batteries and control circuitry into a plug-in hybrid vehicle capable of 100 miles per gallon. Obviously, this is significant, especially in light of this past summer's sky high gas prices. At $4.00 per gallon, would you rather commute in a 33 mpg or a 100 mpg vehicle?

Felix and Ron also determined to keep the technology needed to convert the Prius "open sourced". This means it is non-proprietary and free to all. The result? A cottage industry has sprung up around the initiative to supply would be DIY'ers with everything they need to convert their Prius's to Plug-In Prius's. the bottom line is that for about 6 grand, you can convert your own Prius. For about 10 grand, you can convert it using Li ion technology. I am leaning towards my next car being a late model Prius converted to plug-in capability.

Here are a few of the websites involved in plug-in conversions:
Plug In Conversions
Plug In Supply, Inc.

There are many more out there if you look and many new converted Prius's being born all the time.

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