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Colorado: Hybrids-Plus Displays PHEV with A123 Batteries
Sep 18, 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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HyBrids-Plus becomes the third after-market company to develop a PHEV Prius. It's using the "nano-lithium" batteries from A123 Systems that received considerable attention when they began to be available recently in DeWalt power tools. Initial pricing (in addition to the price of a car) will be $24,000-$32,500, with the expectation of reducing those prices by up to 50% in the coming year.

We start with the Colorado State Government press release, then add additional links and some comments. ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20060918005081&newsLang=en

September 18, 2006 08:00 AM Eastern Time New Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Debuts at Clean Energy Event

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 18, 2006--A new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, capable of 125 mpg and receiving electricity from or sending it to the grid, will be available for viewing at "Clean Energy Partnerships." The event, part of the statewide Colorado's Tech Week, will be in Fort Collins on Monday, September 18.

The Colorado Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC) is working with several partners on this project. Hybrids-Plus, Inc. converted a 2006 Toyota Prius into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) for demonstration purposes. A123Systems supplied the state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Xcel Energy will perform a benefit analysis of the project.

"Hybrids-Plus, based in Boulder, Colorado, is one of the few companies in the country to offer this conversion. This PHEV demonstration is generating a great deal of interest in other hybrid conversions," said Drew Bolin, director of OEMC.

The batteries are a new generation of high-power lithium ion used for, among other things, cordless power tools, and have been installed as a self-contained battery pack in the rear of the vehicle. The design takes some of the space occupied by a storage tray now in the trunk, but allows access for, and to, the spare tire.

"A123Systems' improvements in lithium ion battery technology will enable much greater yields in conventional transportation for vehicle mileage in a safe and reliable manner. A123Systems is involved in this PHEV demonstration in order to demonstrate the advantages of this technology and make it available on a wider scale to the public," said Roger Lin of A123Systems.

This Prius will also soon have Vehicle to Grid (V2G) capability, which means it can provide power to as well as receive power from the electrical grid. A study by Xcel Energy and NREL will assess the collective effects of thousands of PHEVs. Further, the study will determine the emissions profile of the car, as well as those from the greater simulated number, to make recommendations how best to incorporate these new-generation vehicles into the electrical grid.

"Xcel Energy is committed to supporting the widespread deployment of plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies and preparing to meet future customer needs related to alternative fuel transportation," said Michael Lamb, executive director of Utility Innovations at Xcel Energy. "We expect our joint study with NREL will uncover the potential for PHEVs to ultimately increase the overall reliability and sustainability of our existing electricity grid infrastructure."

"PHEVs can reduce our dependence on foreign oil without costly infrastructure investment," said Keith Parks, an analyst at NREL. "The electricity used to provide power to these vehicles is already available at every home and business."

The primary advantage of converting to a PHEV is for better mileage, less oil consumption, and lower driving costs. Additionally, PHEVs can be driven strictly as an electric vehicle during in-town driving or at speeds less than 35 mph, offering another fuel-saving feature along with lower tailpipe emissions.

"We were able to place a larger-capacity pack in the same location as the original battery pack, and for even greater range we placed cells in unused areas inside the vehicle. We retain the original storage space and spare tire location so that the conversion is next to invisible to the user, except of course for the extended mileage. Although today's conversion cost is high, that cost, as well as installation time, is expected to drop in the next few years by 30 to 50 percent making this technology widely available to businesses and individual consumers alike," said Carl Lawrence of Hybrids-Plus.

Launch Event for the PHEV Prius Information:

The PHEV Prius will be available for viewing on Monday, September 18, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Colorado State University Engine and Energy Conversions Laboratory, which is the host site for the "Clean Energy Partnerships" event. For more information on this event and viewing the car, call Megan Castle at 303-866-2262 or visit­oemc/­press/­2006-08-23.pdf.

Project Partner Contact Information:
-- A123Systems, Roger Lin, rlin@...,
-- Hybrids-Plus, Inc., Carl Lawrence, carl.lawrence@...,
-- NREL, Keith Parks, Keith_Parks@...,
-- OEMC, Ed Lewis, Ed.Lewis@...,
-- Xcel Energy, Mark Stutz, mark.stutz@...,

At­ht/­products.html, we like the Hybrids-Plus graphic, showing Toyota's message, "You Never Need to Plug It In (TM)", crossed out to become "You Willl Want to Plug It In."

For the visually-oriented, in addition to the links from that Hybrids-Plus page, here are more photos:­pmwiki/­index.php?n=Ext.Gallery

For the technically-minded, the company has participated in the EAA-PHEV website, providing some specifications there:­wiki/­Hybrids-Plus

There's lots more on the website, including a FAQ:­ht/­faq.html And here are CalCars Tech Lead Ron Gremban's comments:

  • They plan to have two 23Ah x 180V battery packs, each with 600 (10 parallel x 60 series) A123 cells. Each is 4.1 kWh, which should be good for around 13 miles EV range to 80% depth of discharge (DOD). The one existing pack is currently uncooled, but is expected to be air cooled. Thermal load is minimal due to the A123s' low internal resistance.
  • One pack will fit in place of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) battery, leaving even the existing tool tray intact. If the optional second pack is added, it will fit along one side, above and beside the spare tire, allowing for continued spare tire access. Cell weight is 42 kg/pack, so the total weight of one pack is probably around 110 lb. Due to removal of the OEM battery, vehicle weight from the first pack should be increased imperceptibly if at all.
  • The car has a custom battery management system (BMS), with a small board for each parallel set of cells, all communicating to a central CPU via a single wire. Like EnergyCS', the BMS replaces Toyota's battery engine control unit (ECU) and mimics the Toyota Battery ECU's controller area network (CAN) bus conversation with the car's other Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) computers. Perceived state of charge (SOC) is adjustable (presumably soon to be automated), but charge current limit (CCL) is kept steady at 105A.
  • EV-only mode (entered by emulating the Prius' European/Asian EV-only button) is not currently used, meaning that pure electric operation is available only to 60A/15hp (VERY mild acceleration, vs. the still-moderate 120A/30 hp EV capability available in EV-only mode). However, just as with all other Prius conversions when not in EV-only mode, the engine can be coaxed (via minimal throttle and maximum perceived SOC) into remaining stopped up to as high as 42-50 mph.
  • It uses a custom 1.5 kW charger with a very innovative 120VAC power plug that hides in place of one of the car's rear license plate lamps.

If you want a run-down of all the current and expected options from after-market companies, see the table at­wiki/­Prius_PHEV -- and we'll be updating our summaries at­howtoget.html (We can't confirm speculation that A123 will also be supplying batteries to Hymotion)

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