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Text Version of PRIUS+ Fact Sheet Version 1.5
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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Below is the latest version in text format. It's also available as a neat 3-page 60K PDF document from links at (home page) or

V1.5 includes minor updates to the technical information and full revision of all summary material about CalCars and "How and When Can I get a PRIUS+ to reflect the arrival of EDrive Systems.

FACT SHEET: CalCars PRIUS+ Prototypes version 1.5 May 2, 2005

1. Specifications
2. Performance data of current prototype
3. Future prototypes and consumer conversions
4. Preliminary performance data of partnering groups' conversions
5. How and when can I get a PRIUS+?
6. About CalCars (sponsor of PRIUS+ Project)

This summary of two conversions completed since fall 2004 brings you up to speed on what we've done -- and where we're heading. This Fact Sheet is a work in progress (check at to make sure you're reading the latest version, and, if you're reading the email version, pick up a neatly formatted (currently 3-page version). For the latest technical discussions, see the Conversion Group URL below. Subscribe to the Newsletter to keep up with the latest news coverage and milestones. Note that all our mpg reports also include electricity use no free lunch! Contact us if you're interested in becoming involved!

-Felix Kramer fkramer@... Founder, California Cars Initiative
-Ron Gremban rgremban@... -- Technical Lead, PRIUS+ Project and Info­group/­calcars-news CalCars-PHEV Newsletter­group/­priusplus/­ PRIUS+ PHEV Conversion Group


  • Conversion platform is Ron Gremban's stock 2004 Prius hybrid (HEV).
  • Prius hybrid battery pack (Panasonic nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) 6.5 Ah, 201.6 Volt, 99 lb/45kg.) remains unused during PHEV operation and can be used in normal hybrid mode as needed, e.g., for comparison (in future prototypes, this battery may be removed).
  • CalCars' inital battery pack, completely replacing Prius pack (for this temporary first prototype, we used low-performance but resilient lead acid (PbA) for testing purposes and to obtain design criteria for higher-performance packs): 18 electric bicycle B&B 20Ah 12Volt SLA batteries from (nominal 12 Ah, 2.4 kWh total at the car's high discharge rates, 216 Volt, 240 lb without associated hardware and components).
  • Batteries positioned in empty well below hatchback deck, with independent manually switchable air cooling system.
  • Batteries recharged via standard 110-volt outlet in 3 hours with Brusa NLG5 charger from (cheaper charger, longer time for larger packs).
  • Battery Management System and Controller/Display Unit (CDU) by Energy Control Systems Engineering ( of Monrovia, CA, replaces Toyota's Battery ECU. No change to the rest of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) -- what used to be called Toyota Hybrid System (THS).
  • Data from battery and CAN (Controller Area Network) bus interface. Dashboard analog meters display battery voltage and current. EnergyCS in-dash digital display includes battery voltage and current, Amp-hours used from the battery, vehicle power requested (e.g. via throttle position), battery state-of-charge (SOC) reported to the THS, and thousandths of gallons of gasoline used per trip.
  • State of Charge information sent to THS is set semi-automatically to force energy use and regenerative braking regimen (automation will be fine-tuned in future iterations).
  • Configuration permits rapid reversion to standard hybrid operation using the Prius's Battery Management System and retained original battery.
  • Operation permits electric-only mode at up to 34 mph; above 34 mph, battery energy continues to assist the engine, contributing to lower gasoline consumption. The PbA battery is good for 10 all-electric miles, 20 assisted miles, or mixes of the two. Then operation reverts to normal HEV mode, still using the new battery pack.


  • Heavy lead-acid batteries add approx. 300 lb (10%) total, reducing mileage by approx. 5 mpg (10%) in standard HEV operation on city streets (because of acceleration losses), but by little or nothing at highway speeds (where wind resistance is the main factor). Lower internal resistance of future (lighter) battery packs is expected to increase the efficiency of standard HEV operation sufficiently to restore original standard HEV city mileage even when grid-charging energy is not involved. Equivalent mpg numbers and operation costs depend on patterns of use (total miles driven/day, speeds driven). The following examples show improved performance (expected to be better with lighter, more efficient batteries. IMPORTANT: low PHEV and HEV mileage is due to short runs, hilly Marin County terrain, and other local factors.
  • Under 10-mile all-electric propulsion (at under 35 mph), infinite mpg (i.e., no gasoline use) plus 262 grid Watt-hours/mile vs. 50-60 mpg as a normal HEV.
  • 14 mile round trips, including approx. 10 miles on hilly freeways: 58-105 mpg + 185-226 grid Wh/mi, compared to 34-38 actual HEV mpg on the same course, driving with the extra battery weight -- otherwise maybe 37-41 mpg.
  • 26-28 mile trips with many surface streets: 55-65 mpg +124-164 grid Wh/mi.
  • Beyond 20 miles/day (40 miles/day with NiMH or 50+ miles/day with Li-Ion batteries), normal HEV mileage -- except better mileage on long descents due to ability to store more recovered energy -- and no further electricity use. All-electric miles: power cost, approx. 1.25 cents/mile (assumption of 250 Wh/mi and 5 cents/kWh on California off-peak EV "E-9" (PG&E) rate, and not amortizing battery cost), vs. approx. 4.5 cents/gasoline mile ($2/gallon, 45 mpg). Charging with otherwise unused/unsold photovoltaic power costs zero/mile (not amortizing system cost).


  • Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) (27Ah, 5.4 kWh, 225 lb extra after removal of existing battery); up to 20 mile all-electric range or 40 mile assisted range.
  • Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) (35-40 Ah, 9 kWh, 160-190 lb extra after removal of existing hybrid battery); up to 30 mile all-electric range or 60 mile assisted range. (See also Section 4 below for EnergyCS Prototype) Improved performance as well as additional electric range can be expected from the above batteries, due to significantly lower internal resistance losses.
  • Then, we hope, "installed kits" for purchase from third-party partners!
  • For the latest details (between updates of this Fact Sheet) see the CalCars Vehicles page and subscribe to our Calcars Newsletter (see section 5 below).


EnergyCS's version of PRIUS+, completed Feb. 2005, uses $15K of off-the-shelf Valence Technology Saphion U Li-Ion batteries (for pack spec see Section 3 above), plus specialized monitoring and control circuits. These encourage EV operation at low speeds and during low power usage and provide electric motor benefits at all speeds. This vehicle will be the starting point for retrofits to be commercially available in 2006 from EDrive Systems. Equivalent mpg numbers and operation costs depend on patterns of use (total miles driven/day, speeds driven). Following are initial examples from late Feb.-early March 2005: (Later this year, EnergyCS will document performance in partnership under recognized external testing auspices..)

  • Under 35-mile trip all-electric propulsion (at under 35 mph), infinite mpg (i.e., no gasoline) plus 200 Watt-hours/mile.
  • 70 mile trip, 80% 55 mph freeway, 20% city: 120-180 mpg + 115-150 grid Wh/mi, compared to est. 55 mpg as a normal HEV.
  • Beyond 50-60 miles/day, normal HEV mileage -- except better mileage on long descents due to ability to store more recovered energy -- and no further electricity use. All-electric miles: power cost approx. 1.0 cents/mile (assumption of 200 Wh/mi and 5 cents/kWh on California off-peak EV "E-9" (PG&E) rate, and not amortizing battery cost), vs. approx. 4.5 cents/gasoline mile ($2/gallon, 45 mpg). Charging with otherwise unused/unsold photovoltaic power costs zero/mile (not amortizing system cost).


Thanks for asking. We've started a list to keep people up-to-date on the progress of PRIUS+, CalCars, "gas-optional hybrids" (GO-HEVs) or "plug-in hybrids" (PHEVs) in general. At­group/­calcars-news, subscribe to the low-traffic CalCars-PHEV Newsletter, and watch our website for our progress.

These vehicles will operate like any other Prius, with no necessity to drive slower or differently. They will re-charge overnight from conventional 110-volt outlets (no need to hunt for a place to plug in during the day).

We are beginning to have some information about when conversion options will be available. EDrive Systems LLC (the consortium created by EnergyCS, Inc. and Clean-Tech LLC, will offer retrofits as installed kits beginning in 2006 at prices to be announced. For information, subscribe to our Newsletter (see above) or contact EDrive via their website,

They will include a warranty for the components, but Toyota could decide that the conversion voids some or part of your car or hybrid system warranty (unless the company worries that will tarnish its green image). We won't know how dealers will respond to service requests for this car until we start driving them.

The first conversions will be for 2004-2006 Prius (not early generations). We think conversions will be possible for Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX-400 hybrids, and probably for Ford Escape. Because of their different architecture, we and EDrive are not investigating the feasibility of converting Honda Insight, Civic or Accord hybrids.

To learn more about PHEVs, hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles:­group/­priusplus/­ - PRIUS+ PHEV Conversion Group discussions­group/­gridable-hybrids -- PHEV general discussions­group/­Prius-2G -- 2004 Prius issues­group/­Prius_Technical_Stuff -- Prius nuts and bolts -- general Prius info and talk -- all about hybrids­electrichybrid.dfm -- focus on PHEVs at site for general coverage of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles

Meanwhile, we thank you in advance for your encouragement, and hope you'll spread the word about our efforts. If you know of any individuals in a position to discuss fleet purchases, provide us with substantial support or celebrity endorsements, please send them our way. If you want to contact Toyota to tell them you'd like a Prius or other Toyota/Lexus/Scion GO-HEV, we suggest you contact your local dealer, and feel free to send a copy of any email you write to priusplus@....


The California Cars Initiative ( is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup. We're a group of entrepreneurs, engineers and other citizens promoting high-efficiency, low-emission cars and harnessing buyer demand to help commercialize advanced technologies. Somewhat uniquely, we focus both on public policy and technology development. Starting in early 2005, our efforts began to be noticed; in the first week of April 2005, we were covered in The New York Times and Business Week, National Public Radio, etc.

We're demonstrating the immediate opportunity and benefits of what are variously called "gas-optional or plug-in" hybrids (GO-HEVs or PHEVs). The next generation of hybrid cars can be based entirely on existing components. They're basically like some current hybrids but with larger batteries and the ability to re-charge conveniently, so local travel is electric, yet the vehicle has unlimited range. While hybrids may cut gasoline use by on-third, PHEVS can cut out another third. We see it as the future pathway to multi-fuel and biofuel PHEVsl. And it makes hydrogen cars more affordable by reducing the size of the fuel cell stack and the amount of hydrogen stored.

We began with a prototype conversion we call "PRIUS+." We "green-tuned" a stock 2004 Prius by adding batteries and grid-charging as a way to bring attention to plug-in hybrids and encourage car makers to build them. (We've replaced the battery control system but haven't tinkered with the hybrid controls.) Our proof-of-concept uses lead-acid, which we'll be replacing soon with nickel-metal batteries, and EDrive Systems in Southern California have installed an even better lithium pack in their cars to get 100+mpg (plus costs of electric power).

We hope to persuade Toyota and other automakers to build PHEVs for a market we expect to expand as the Kyoto Protocols and parallel state and international greenhouse gas initiatives are phased in. We're demonstrating demand initially from early adopter individuals and institutions. We're working closely with other PHEV advocates to develop fleet orders from utilities, government and private companies.

EDrive Systems LLC, a for-profit integration company, has announced its intention to begin selling PRIUS+-style retrofits in early 1996. While pricing has not been established, it is likely that these installed conversion "kits" will go first to celebrities and entrepreneurs. Conversions may expand include all cars that use Toyota's "Hybrid Synergy Drive" (Prius, Lexus, Highlander, Nissan), followed by Ford's Escape and other forthcoming hybrids.

We're also involved in advocacy and public policy, bringing together the growing attention given to this "up-and-coming" technology (see our roundup at­kudos.html). We're educating the large market of car buyers who will pay extra for better cars. We're presenting the benefits of PHEVs, along with wind and solar power, as a coordinated response to two of today's greatest challenges: global warming and energy security.

We're exploring with public officials ways to provide incentives to auto makers to build GO-HEVs. And we're developing innovative ways to meet expected demand from public and private fleets for substantial numbers of vehicles before a car company delivers production PHEVs. To take advantage of that who-knows-how-long window of opportunity, we're now forming an Entrepreneurs Brain Trust to develop a business plan for a California company that can design, assemble and sell GO-HEVs.

We're a mostly-volunteer effort, that's gotten contributions from a well-known entrepreneur and a major foundation, with others to come. We document our effort at our open-source-style technology discussion group at­group/­priusplus/­.

And here's the (non-profit) advertisement: we ask that you support us by becoming a Charter Sponsor (tax-deductible contribution of $95 or any other amount at­sponsor.html -- we are an almost-entirely volunteer operation, and could do much more with additional resources!

Founder Felix Kramer says, I'm a startup person and environmentalist going way back (­resume.html). In 2001, I sold (marketplace for web development) and began advising Rocky Mountain Institute/Amory Lovins' Hypercar Inc. My change in focus from that futuristic simulation to more immediate solutions led to the launch of CalCars in 2002. My personal motivation for the project has evolved from general environmental/clean air goals to seeing GO-HEVs as a keystone component of a strategy to address global warming both nationally and internationally. GO-HEVs charged from off-peak electricity from a modernized grid and from distributed photovoltaic and wind power, with the range extension engine powered by cellulose ethanol, are a way to significantly reduce carbon emissions from transportation.)

California Cars Initiative info@...
PO Box 61045
Palo Alto, CA 94306

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