Oct 11, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Here's the next Prius conversion...this one by Hymotion, the Ontario company that is using A123 batteries. This is the 18th Prius conversion of which we are aware. For a list, including contact info for some of them for people who may want to arrange public events, see http://www.calcars.org/where-phevs-are.html.
Below is the story by leading clean-tech reporter Tyler Hamilton in the Toronto Star plus this week's press release by the utility.
Plug-in Prius: automobile's future? Veridian CEO modifies hybrid car to get 55 kilometres on a single charge Toronto Star - Ontario, Canada Oct. 4, 2006. 01:29 AM Tyler Hamilton, Energy Reporter
The future of the automobile could very well be parked in Michael Angemeer's driveway.
The president and chief executive officer of Veridian Corp., an electricity distribution company that serves 106,000 customers east of Toronto, wouldn't be the first Ontario executive to drive a Toyota Prius hybrid.
But he is the first to drive a Prius that can be "filled up" by plugging it into a standard electrical outlet.
Last month, Angemeer took his corporate Prius to a small company in Concord, Ont., called Hymotion Canada, which spent just two hours retrofitting the vehicle with a $14,500 battery system.
A 5-kilowatt lithium-ion battery, designed by A123Systems Inc. of Watertown, Mass., was dropped into the trunk where a spare tire used to be, and a power plug was installed on the left side of the rear bumper.
What Angemeer drove away with was a "plug-in" hybrid-electric vehicle that can travel 55 kilometres on a single battery charge while using only a trickle of gasoline for acceleration. Such a trip might need just 60 cents worth of electricity - about the cost of a full five-hour battery charge - and $1.40 worth of gas, based on mileage of about 2.4 litres per 100 kilometres.
That's almost double the mileage - and less than half the emissions - of a regular Prius, which recharges its battery through regenerative braking.
"It's great where you have short hops, such as driving from work to home and back," said Angemeer, pointing out that beyond 55 kilometres the gas engine kicks in and mileage begins to drop.
Veridian, in co-operation with St. Lawrence College in Kingston, will spend the next few months studying the performance of the vehicle. The utility is planning, along with help from Transport Canada, to do similar retrofits to General Motors and Ford hybrids that are already in the utility's fleet.
Alternative charging options are included in the study. Later this month, Veridian will begin installing a solar panel system at its Ajax office that will charge Angemeer's car while it's parked at work.
A solar panel is also being installed atop the car, allowing it to slowly charge while on the go or parked at another lot - assuming it's sunny.
The main goal, however, is to pressure the auto makers to embrace plug-in hybrids as a mass-market design.
"Nobody else in Canada has really picked up on this, and I think it's time to make some noise about plug-in (vehicle) technology," Angemeer said.
"It's not so much this is the exact car people are going to buy. It's that we want to show people this is possible."
Veridian is the only Canadian utility and one of only two Canadian companies (the other is Toronto-based electric car maker Feel Good Cars) to become a member of a Texas-based consortium called Plug-In Partner.
The group, whose members include a wide range of businesses, utilities, municipal governments and state agencies, aims to show auto makers that plug-in hybrids represent the best hope of weaning North America from its oil addiction.
The idea is that the United States could dramatically shift its dependence away from foreign oil and toward its own electricity system based on domestic fuel sources, such as coal, natural gas and wind.
Cars can be plugged in overnight when electricity is cheapest and in low demand, and then driven in low-emission mode during the day.
After initial resistance to the concept, both General Motors and Toyota have acknowledged research and development aimed at developing plug-in hybrids.
Ricardo Bazzarella, founder and president of Hymotion, said U.S. municipalities and states have been much more aggressive about promoting the idea, while most counterparts in Canada have barely noticed the trend.
Bazzarella makes no illusion about the payback of plug-in hybrids, acknowledging that the cost of the system is high and that much work needs to be done to improve battery technology.
"It's really people who are conscious about the environment who are doing it," he said.
"They're not necessarily talking about payback today, but down the road we envision a payback in three to four years, depending on how high gas prices rise."
A $14,500 system today, for example, is likely to fall to about $6,500 a year from now, he added.
Info-box: A Hymotion plug-in Prius hybrid System retrofit cost: $14,500 Installation time: 2 hours Battery: A123 lithium-ion, 5 kilowatt Battery life: 6 years, 3,500 charge/discharge cycles Battery replacement cost: $4,000 Charge time: 5 hours Cost of full charge: 60 cents Highway mileage: 2.4 litres per 100 kilometres Travel per charge: 55 km Gas/electricity cost: $2 Source: Hymotion Canada
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 12, 2006
Hymotion Helps Veridian Corporation "Plug-in" to Advanced Hybrid Technology
Today Hymotion, a world leader in plug-in hybrid technology, announced that it had converted another Prius into a 100 mpg + plug-in hybrid, this time for Veridian Corporation, a large Ontario-based utility company. The conversion was phase one of this showcase project.
The second phase will involve adding solar panels to the roof of the vehicle and to the roof of Veridian headquarters for daytime charging. This second step will be completed by a third Canadian based company, Solera Sustainable Energies Company, a leading provider of utility-grid connected solar power solutions in Canada. Phase two will commence next month. The original idea for solar panels on a vehicle came from Steve Lapp, now of St. Lawrence College.
Hymotion is committed to working with Canadian companies to demonstrate that sustainable transportation is doable today. "I think the public is starting to realize that the future of the automotive industry is moving more and more towards being powered by electricity," said Ricardo Bazzarella, President of Hymotion. "We want to help demonstrate that sustainable transportation is here today and is not just a thing of the future."
Michael Angemeer, Veridian's President and CEO, took possession of the converted Prius in September. He drives the car on a daily basis, and reports that he can travel about 55 kilometres on a single battery charge, with just a little gasoline being used for acceleration. He says, "It is exciting to be directly involved in the testing and promotion of new technology that can help reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases, lessen our dependence on foreign oil and make more efficient use of our electricity system."
The Hymotion plug-in Prius will be on prominent public display as Angemeer travels Ontario's highways. "We were able to secure the personalized licence plate 'CONSERVE'," he says. "We will soon also be adding conservation messaging to the car to promote the need to be powerWISE."
Veridian's plug-in hybrid car may be unique to Ontario, but they are being aggressively promoted in some U.S. jurisdictions. According to Angemeer, "As a leading electricity distributor in Ontario, Veridian and its shareholder communities are very interested in advancing the use of technologies that contribute to sustainable energy use. We believe that the plug-in hybrids have a lot of potential for cars and larger vehicles, and hope that our project will drive local interest and further research and investment in this technology. The vehicle will showcase overnight charging using less expensive off-peak electricity through smart meter technology and solar energy."
Veridian has a number of hybrid vehicles from GM and Ford in its green fleet and is investigating retrofits of these vehicles as well as optimizing the use of ultra low sulfur diesel in its truck fleet.
The plug-in hybrid project is being supported in part by the LDC (Local Distribution Company) Tomorrow Fund, a utility industry fund established to finance research projects that advance innovation in Ontario's electricity distribution sector.
CAPTION: Michael Angemeer, Veridian CEO, with 2 vehicles from Veridian's growing green fleet. The Prius has been modified by Hymotion to plug in overnight using less expensive electricity through new smart metering technology. Solar panels from Solera on the vehicle and at Veridian headquarters will be added within a month for daytime charging. The feasibility of modifying the GM hybrid pickup with solar panels is also being assessed.
About Veridian Corporation Through its subsidiary Veridian Connections Inc., Veridian Corporation is responsible for distributing electricity to more than 106,000 customers in the Cities of Pickering and Belleville, the Towns of Ajax, Port Hope and Gravenhurst, and the communities of Uxbridge, Bowmanville, Newcastle, Orono, Port Perry, Beaverton, Sunderland and Cannington. The Corporation also owns Veridian Energy Inc., a Pickering, Ontario based company that provides business-to-business and fibre optic communications services. The City of Pickering, The Town of Ajax, the Municipality of Clarington and the City of Belleville jointly own Veridian Corporation.
About Solera Sustainable Energies Company Solera Sustainable Energies Company is a leading Canadian provider of sustainable energy solutions. Founded in 1985, Solera has been providing clean, reliable, maintenance-free solar electricity for residential, commercial and institutional applications for more than a decade. Partnered with Compower Systems Inc., a more than 25-year-old Canadian manufacturer of telecommunications power products, Solera offers the marketplace proven capabilities in sustainable energy and backup power system design, engineering, manufacturing, service and installation, and product supply. Through innovative products and services, we are empowering our clients to adopt cleaner, safer, sustainable energy technologies to assist in creating a better planet for future generations. For more information, go to www.soleraenergies.com.
About Hymotion Hymotion Inc. is a provider of complete integration for hybrid and fuel cell systems. Hymotion brings over ten years of experience in the alternative fuel industry. It can offer mechanical, electrical, control system and power electronics design for OEM customers. At Hymotion, we believe Hydrogen is the power of choice in the near future, and we see hybrid power train and alternative flex-fuel as the most favorable green solution. As a green technology company, our mission is to provide new generation hybrid and alternative fuel solutions to customers that value green and innovative technologies.
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For Veridian Corporation
President and CEO
Ph: 905-427-9870, extension 2200
For Hymotion Inc. Email: tdaly@... Ph: 519-489-0471
For Solera Sustainable Energies Company Email: s.smith@... Ph. 416-910-8112