PLUG OK license plate
Plenty Magazine: Green My Ride
Nov 8, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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[article gets PHEV concept right, but some numbers wrong, and doesn't make clear that EDrive offers installations, not kits] (subscription info: article in print only)
October-November 2005
Cover promotes story as "Pimp Your Prius" (as did NYT Magazine and Wave

"Wheels" story p. 26:
Green My Ride
How to achieve otherworldly gas mileage
by Justin Taylor Clark

While skeptics scoff that alternative-energy vehicles aren't sexy ednough to woo the average SUV-loving American, a small but growing subculture of car enthusiasts disagrees. Call them conversionists: green-minded green-minded car owners who take a perfectly functional vehicle and install the environmental equivalent of hydraulics, custom rims, and a backseat wet bar. Not content with simply snapping up the latest model of the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight, the conversionist yearns to transform an altready sensible car into a beast of efficiency.

So what does it take to green your ride? We asked advocates of the three most popular types of conversionists to spell out the costs and challenges, as well as the benefits.

What do you do if you want the range of a hybrid but don't want to use any gas on short trips around town? The newest and most exciting option on the horion -- if you can afford it -- is the pluggable hybrid, or the PHEV. While current hybrids recharge their batteries using only their brakes, alternative-energy enthusiasts in California have created a prototype for a hybrid that can be recharged directly from the power grid.

But hybrid manufacturers are reluctant to spend the extra $3,000 per vehicle to install plugs. Automakers have sought to convince consumers that hybrids have a range superior to EVs and don't require the chore of finding and using an electrical socket. "Toyota is spending millions of dollars telling people you don't have to plug it in," says Felix Kramer, founder of the pluggable-hybrid advocacy group CalCars. "It's hard for them to make a 180-degree turn."

In the meantime, California start-up EDrive Systems plans to produce a conversion kit for the Prius that will go on the market next year for a staggering $10,000 to $12,000, to be followed by a kit for the Ford Escape hybrid.

The kit will allow drivers to travel 50 miles gas-free or obtain 100 mpg for 50 miles on the freeway. But make sure you have someone else to do the labor for you. "It's not practical for people to do the hack on their own," explains Kramer. It isn't only about the amount of time it takes, he explains; a hybrid conversion also has to obtain components that people "don't normally have access to." But if interest in pluggable hybrid continues, then the mass production of the conversion kits could lower their price dramatically.

For now, only EDrive Systems is planning to offer a PHEV conversion kit ( [Other links in section links to and are actually for vegetable oil.]

1. BIODIESEL AND STRAIGHT VEGETABLE OIL, with links to,,, and 3. GAS-TO-ELECTRIC CONVERSIONS, describing pioneers Steve Heckeroth and Ray LeMeur, with links to CloudEV, and other converters, and

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