More Hybrid Drivers Installing Conversion Kits

By dancurranjr On August 13th, 2008

There are number of hybrid vehicles on the road today — including the Toyota Prius — but the road to full electric vehicles is a long one. The problem with achieving full electric vehicles isn’t that manufacturers can’t build them; it’s that today’s battery technology simply doesn’t provide the driving range needed by the majority of drivers.

Sales of hybrid vehicles are up and some hybrid owners are taking matters into their own hands with third-party conversions to turn their hybrid vehicles into plug-in hybrids.

Several small startups are trying to woo hybrid car owners — especially those who own the Toyota Prius — into their shops to have the vehicles converted into plug-in hybrids. As it ships from the manufacturer, the Toyota Prius does not plug into the electrical grid. Rather, the vehicle uses a gasoline motor that recharges the batteries inside the car to increase overall fuel economy. The Prius can run on electric power alone, but typically does so only for short distances.

Small companies trying to market conversion kits to turn the Prius into a plug-in hybrid are boasting that their plug-in conversions will allow the Prius to be driven 40 miles on batteries alone. The same firms also claim that the overall fuel economy averages about 100 miles per gallon. The catch is that the third-party conversion kits are expensive — typically costing around $10,000.

However, Felix Kramer founder of CalCars told that there are around 200 plug-in hybrid conversions already on the roads since conversions started in 2004. Kramer looks at the plug-in hybrid realistically. With the current maximum range of 40 miles, the plug-in is the ideal second car in his opinion for commuters who still have a larger SUV or similar vehicle for the weekend or longer trips.

There are a few mechanics and car dealers currently installing plug-in hybrid conversions according to, including Plug-In Supply. The company is selling $5,000 conversion kits that allow the Prius driver to travel 20 miles on fully charged lead acid batteries alone. For $11,000, the driver can get a lithium-iron phosphate battery kit in place of the lead acid batteries. The kit prices don’t include installation, which can run another $1,000.

Safety of plug-in converted hybrids has been a concern after a Prius that had been convertedĀ burst into flames in June. According to, a third-party investigator blamed improper assembly for the fire, not the hybrid conversion kit itself.

Source: Daily Tech

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