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Prius Makeover@Maker Faire--San Mateo--Earth Day Weekend
Mar 1, 2006 (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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This is going to be fun and important. First the press release from O'Reilly's publicists, then text of my blog posting.

Mark Ballard Rachel Sussman
mark@... rachel@...
212.255.8455 ext. 25 212.255.8455 ext.31

MAKER FAIRE Gets GREEN! to modify Toyota Prius to "plug-in" hybrid at Maker Faire

"... when we eventually run out of oil, have a worldwide computer crash, or another global catastrophe, it's the sort of people who will subscribe to Make who will help us all survive."
- Knoxville News Sentinel

Sebastopol, CA (March 1, 2006)- Following President Bush's recent endorsement of advanced hybrids, and coinciding with Earth Day weekend, The California Cars Initiative ( will publicly convert a Toyota Prius hybrid into a "plug-in" hybrid during the inaugural Make magazine Maker Faire, April 22-23.

Over two days, CalCars engineers, along with a cadre of volunteers, will build and install a battery pack and make hardware and software adjustments to the stock Toyota Prius. The finished "PRIUS+" will drive back to Seattle, Washington after the Faire with a 10-mile low-speed all-electric range in addition to its regular hybrid extended range.

Unlike a standard hybrid, which uses the gasoline engine to power its battery, a plug-in hybrid adds a larger battery that can re-charge from a household 120-volt outlet. The result: a 100+ MPG plug-in hybrid fueled with gasoline plus cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity.

Coming to the San Mateo Fairgrounds in San Mateo, CA, Maker Faire is a celebration of science and technology projects and the new Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. "Make was created to expose the fun of technological hacking and discovery - and what could be more fun, not to mention worthwhile, than hacking a real world solution to our world's energy woes?" explained Make magazine publisher Dale Dougherty. founder Felix Kramer added, "If a handful of independent experimenters can create a plug-in hybrid over a weekend, imagine what auto-makers could do in a few months."

In addition to the CalCars project, other Maker Faire highlights include: 6 exposition & workshop pavilions (Weird Science, Ultimate Garage, Robotics, Digital Entertainment/Gaming, Green Tech & Electronics Recycling, Ultimate Workshop), 5-acre outdoor midway, over 100 exhibiting Makers, hands-on workshops, demonstrations, DIY competitions, crafting for Makers, Make: Movies, and the very latest in tools, kits and DIY resources.

The Details:

  • When: Saturday, April 22, 2006 (10am - 6pm) Sunday, April 23, 2006 (10am - 5pm)
  • Where: The San Mateo Fairgrounds 2495 South Delaware Street, San Mateo, CA
  • Admission: $12/Adult; $5/Teens; $25/Family; Under 12 free For the very latest information and updates, please visit:

For press information and registration please contact Mark Ballard at 212-255-8455 or Mark@.... For more information on, please contact Felix Kramer at 650-520-5555 or fkramer@....

About CalCars The California Cars Initiative is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup focused on technology and advocacy. It's a group of entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and other citizens promoting high-efficiency, low-emission cars and harnessing buyer demand to help commercialize advanced technologies. Formed in 2002 by entrepreneur Felix Kramer, CalCars' Technology Lead is Ron Gremban, a CalTech engineer who helped build and drive one of the competitors in the first transcontinental electric car race between MIT and CalTech in 1968.'s efforts for "100+MPG hybrids" began to be noticed in 2005 with coverage in major national print and broadcast media. Since then, support for PHEVs has grown among many constituencies, including President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative. CalCars is investigating strategies, including sponsoring a for-profit company to partner with one or more automakers to meet the high fleet demand for PHEVs.

About O'Reilly Media Founded in 1978 and based in Sebastopol, CA., O'Reilly Media is the premier information source for leading-edge computer technologies. The company's books, conferences, and web sites bring to light the knowledge of technology innovators. O'Reilly books, known for the animals on their covers, occupy a treasured place on the shelves of the developers building the next generation of software. O'Reilly conferences and summits bring alpha geeks and forward-thinking business leaders together to shape the revolutionary ideas that spark new industries. From the Internet to XML, open source, .NET, Java, and web services, O'Reilly puts technologies on the map.

# # #

From our FAQ, Power, Plugs and People at­blogs/­power/­prius-makeover-at-maker-faire

See a Prius Makeover at Inaugural Maker Faire

CalCars' next project is quick: we'll convert a Prius in a weekend. This will be fun and important.

Our partner is MAKE, the acclaimed year-old magazine from O'Reilly Media. The venue is MAKE's Inaugural Maker Faire­faire at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, April 22-23. See their press release at our page, <http:/>. At that page, we'll follow up this announcement soon with additional details: what we'll be doing; a look at our All-Star Conversion Team; how you can help.

This PHEV will recharge in hydropower-rich Seattle. It's a dry run for the EAA-PHEV effort (see That project is developing Open Source (non-proprietary) electronic designs, instructions and recommended components so experienced engineers can complete "do-it-yourself" conversions on their own. Along with the two private companies now about to offer after-market installed retrofits, this will put some plug-in hybrids on the road. Meanwhile, we plug away at getting the car-makers to do it right: bigger, better and cheaper and of course, bigger -- bringing PHEVs into the fleet faster and more broadly than all the conversions anyone could envision.

Here's a run-down of our current programs (see also our 2006 Goals­2006.html:

ADVOCACY AND PARTNERSHIPS most important first:

  • We remain focused on our main goal: encouraging car-makers to build PHEVs.
  • We're trying to partner with an open-minded but skeptical car-maker to supply some PHEVs to fleets and high-visibility early adopters -- to stretch at least as far as DaimlerChrysler is going for larger commercial vehicles with its Sprinter Van PHEVs.
  • We're building support for the fleet-purchase campaign of Plug-In Partners.
  • We continue a broad range of efforts to increase visibility and support for plug-in hybrids -- talking to journalists, presenting at events, trying out new communications strategies and tactics, and meeting with public- and private-sector decisionmakers.

TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATIONS in chronological order

  • We're documenting the everyday performance of our original PRIUS+, the first converted hybrid.
  • We're troubleshooting/refining and improving our conversion in Connecticut with Electro Energy, Inc. using bi-polar nickel-metal hydride batteries.
  • We're exploring partnerships with other battery-makers to show that while PHEVs can be built now, they can be even better in the future.
  • We're awaiting a conversion any week now by EDrive Systems.
  • We're hoping to get one of Hymotion's early retrofits for evaluation.
  • Comments and suggestions appreciated. (Before you ask, "how can I get one?" or you say, "PHEVs bad," etc., please, first at least look at the CalCars FAQ­faq.html.)

    To see comments/add yours, go to:­blogs/­power/­prius-makeover-at-maker-faire.

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