Monday, December 22, 2008

Plug-In Conversions for the Toyota Prius

For the more budget minded, there is a company in California who has worked very hard to put together a DIY plug-in conversion package for the 2004 to 2009 Toyota Prius. To make things easier, Plug-In Supply of Petaluma, California has fabricated a battery box and collected the other hardware and software necessary to convert your Prius. Their complete system includes batteries, battery box, charger and wiring harness. They even offer an EV switch that allows operation up to 52 mph without the help of the internal combustion engine.

Here's how it works. Twenty batteries are connected in series yielding a pack voltage of 240 volts that is then connected to the Toyota NiMH battery pack in the Prius. The batteries are arranged nicely in a specialized battery box manufactured by Plug-In Supply that sits atop the spare tire in the rear well. the battery box is mounted on a hinge with hydraulic lifts so it can swing out of the way in case one needs access to the spare. Pretty nifty. The kit by itself retails for $4995 and most dealers will install it for a grand or so. This brings the conversion package to about $6,000.

While not as expensive as the Hymotion package, it still is a shock to most people's finances. This kit will allow 12 to 15 miles in all electric mode and is the PERFECT solution for those evening and weekend errands. If you have short commute to work, especially on city roads, you may even be able to avoid having the engine start at all. This is truly living oil free.

From Plug-In Supply:

Plug-In Supply Inc of Petaluma California is pleased to announce the availability of components and assemblies to build the Prius+ plug-in conversion invented by CalCars to convert a 40+ mpg Prius into a 100+ mpg Prius Plus (plus 1 cent/mile of electricity). With the conversion system installed, a Prius can be driven for the first 10-15 miles on electricity before reverting to standard Prius driving mode.

A PHEV owner plugs in the car overnight to recharge the battery pack. This saves gasoline by substituting cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity for a portion of the gas that would otherwise be used to propel the vehicle. Electricity from the outlet sells for less than $1 per gas gallon equivalent (GGE).

The Prius+ conversion is the original and most successful non-commercial PHEV conversion for the Toyota Prius car.

Plug-In Supply products allow dealers to complete high-quality PHEV conversions.

The conversion system uses new extended life lead-acid batteries (over 800 cycles), for better battery longevity than was previously available. The combination of longer battery life and lower price improves the affordability of converting a Prius.

The PbA20 PHEV Assembly is a complete, tested, and ready to install pack. It provides access to the spare tire and contains 20 PbA20-12 lead-acid batteries, plus all high voltage components and control electronics in a strong welded steel enclosure. Expect about 10 - 15 miles of EV mode range.

Battery chemistry: Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) or Lead Acid (PbA).
Expected battery life: 11+ years for LiFePO4, 2 years for PbA.

System weight: 150 lb for Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) and 360 lb for Lead-Acid (PbA).
Battery Pack Mounting Location: under rear cargo deck on top of spare tire. Battery box lifts up on springs to access spare tire.
Capacity: 5kW
Voltage: 256 VDC
Charge time: 4 to 8 hours from any 110 VAC / 15A outlet.
On-board charger mounts under front seats or in cargo area.

The PbA PHEV Assembly is also available without batteries.

Summary of the features of the Plug-In Supply Prius+ PHEV conversion:
Three mode operation, Normal Prius, Enhanced Prius and Electric Vehicle.
Normal Prius is stock performance, PHEV engaged.
Enhanced Prius mode engages auxiliary battery pack to enhance the performance during normal Prius operation.
Electric Vehicle mode means gas engine does not start. To exit this mode car must be brought to a stop, turned off then restarted. Car restarts in normal Prius mode.
Range in EV mode: 10 to 15 miles per charge. Depends on terrain and driving style.
Max speed in EV mode: 52 mph.

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