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How EDrive's Prius retrofit business affect CalCars projects
May 3, 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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EnergyCS and Clean-Tech have unveiled EDrive, LLC, their new company for Prius retrofits. See their announcement on their website (so far only one page): and their press release­prnews/­050502/­dam042.html?.v=8.

We've also reproduced the release at CalCars News:­group/­calcars-news/­message/­36.  After you've read that news, the following explanation provides the background and context.

Here's an explanation of CalCars' history and role with EDrive and some discussion of its significance to the CalCars PRIUS+ Project.

CalCars' completed our lead-acid PRIUS+ prototype in fall 2004. It was the result of a collaborative effort of many dozens of engineers worldwide, with many hours of hands-on help and advice from Bay Area electric vehicle and hybrid experts. We also began getting invaluable advice from EnergyCS in Monrovia, near Los Angeles, especially from Greg Hanssen (well known for years in electric vehicle circles), Pete Nortman and the others at EnergyCS.

After trying a number of approaches, we ended up using EnergyCS's proprietary battery management system -- and we received help then and since from EnergyCS far beyond that which was warranted by the relatively small fees they charged for their hardware and customization.

At the same time, our first prototype and our reports to them on many issues gave them with additional motivation to get further involved with the Prius. And not long thereafter, EnergyCS then leapfrogged our efforts, partnering with Valence Technology, Inc. to build a high-performance version of PRIUS+. They premiered this vehicle in April in Monaco at the EVS21 conference. Its first US appearance came today, April 3, at the Clean Cities Conference in Palm Springs, California.

There's one other part of the story: back in September, at Air Resources Board hearings on implementation of the Greenhouse Gases (Pavley) bill, we introduced EnergyCS, Inc. to Seth Seaberg,, CEO of Clean-Tech LLC, a Los Angeles systems integrator with deep experience in natural gas vehicle conversions and other advanced vehicle technologies. They began a collaboration that has resulted in this new entity, EDrive LLC, formed by EnergyCS and Clean-Tech.

We at CalCars are thrilled at the prospect that, starting in early 2006, individual and fleet customers will have the opportunity to purchase EDrive retrofits from such a stellar source. This can be a giant step in demonstrating the benefits of plug-in or gas-optional hybrids. EDrive's business success will complement our non-profit efforts -- and we expect that their their satisfied customers will magnify our impact. We hope many of those who've been asking CalCars, "when can I get a PRIUS+?" will soon get answers from EDrive. And we hope fleet purchasers will also begin realizing GO-HEVs will soon be in their future.

EDrive is using cutting-edge Lithium-Ion batteries. Meanwhile, we are continuing to develop our plans to upgrade our PRIUS+ to use a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack. (With help from many people in the Conversion Group and from components suppliers, Ron Gremban continues to do systematic performance testing of candidate batteries in order to find ones that will meet our requirements -- he'll soon be reporting on his progress at the PRIUS+ PHEV Conversion Group (URL below).

We believe our vehicle will provide a response to skeptics within the auto industry who warn about "unproven batteries." Our next PRIUS+ will use a battery type that auto makers regard as proven. All current hybrids use NiMH batteries. And NiMH batteries in production EVs continue to demonstrate their reliability. For instance, some Toyota RAV4Es have over 125,000 miles on them with no degradation in battery performance -- using NiMH batteries that were expected to require replacement at 75,000 miles. We expect that documented performance from both our PRIUS+ and those from EDrive will help auto makers considering production of GO-HEVs.

So both CalCars and EDrive have our work cut out for us.

EDrive is focused on delivering individual retrofits this fall as they prepare to scale up for more systems next year.

Here's our current view of CalCars' objectives:

  • Position GO-HEVs centrally in national debates on energy and transportation solutions;
  • Get a significant number of high-profile entrepreneurs, celebrities and early adopters driving converted vehicles -- and talking them up before and after purchase;
  • Develop interest and consolidate demand for GO-HEVs among fleets and individuals;
  • Pass legislation in California and nationally for flexible fleet requirements and for incentives to buyers and OEMs;
  • Attract corporate, foundation and public resources to buy down the incremental cost of GO-HEVs over conventional hybrids for the first thousands of vehicles,
  • Convince at least one OEM to build production GO-HEVs as a way to improve its business prospects by getting buyers excited about clean, powerful, advanced cars.

Thanks for your help and support!


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