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Conversion News: First in Texas in Oct; 1620-Mile PHEV tank; Video/Media
Sep 28, 2007 (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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Here's the press release announcing that CalCars will convert a car in Austin, Texas next month. We're getting ever-closer to having an accessible "do-it-yourself with technical help" solution for any 2004+ Prius owner who wants to spend somewhere around $6K. And since it looks like Toyota is pushing back any plans for mass-producing PHEVs, and we're not hearing much from Ford about the Escape, we expect to see significant demand for these kits and for conversions from after-market companies.

Below the press release is conversion news from several after-market companies. And the news that one of the few individual owners of a PHEV, Dave in Seattle, whose daily drive cycle is pretty well matched to a PHEV, may have set a record in refueling after getting 1,620 miles on a single tank, averaging 171 MPG for that time!

Texas's First Public Conversion of a Plug-In Hybrid: Austin October 20-21, 2007

Sept 26, 2007: The California Cars Initiative ( will sponsor a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) "Conversion Demonstration" in Austin, TX on October 20-21 at the first Maker Faire to be held outside of California. PHEV conversions to Toyota Prius hybrids add an additional battery pack that can be plugged in at night so that the electric energy is used to displace gasoline to get over 100 miles per gallon of gasoline plus about $.02/mile of electricity. This conversion will provide this performance for the first 20 miles of daily driving. (Others, using more costly batteries can provide up to 50 miles a day of PHEV driving.) After the energy in the second pack is depleted, the converted vehicle seamlessly operates as a standard hybrid vehicle. Batteries for this conversion are being supplied by CleanPower Battery Technologies, Inc.

THE CALIFORNIA CARS INITIATIVE CalCars is a nonprofit group of entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists, drivers and consumers promoting plug-in hybrid cars through advocacy and demonstration projects. CalCars sponsors the EAA-PHEV project that has designed this conversion. The project is "Open-Source"-style, meaning that the developers offer their plans and information free, with no private intellectual property ownership.

THE MAKER FAIRE Here's how O'Reilly Media, its organizers, describes it: "Maker Faire: two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. It's for creative, resourceful folks who like to tinker and love to make things. We call them Makers." When: October 20-21, 2007 Were: Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane, Austin, Texas Hours: Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 10am-5pm Tickets: Adult $25/Day or $50/Weekend Pass - Student $15/Day or $30/Weekend Pass - Youth ages 4-12 $10/Day or $20/Weekend Pass. Children 3 and under are free - Save $5/ticket by buying tickets in advance online at

We'll be starting with a stock 2005 Prius and adding lead-acid batteries, our latest versions of the control electronics, cooling and charging systems. Car owner Darren Overby will be part of the conversion team. Darren, who operates an International Hostel in San Francisco, says "I see our environment as a global issue and I am continually encouraged to hear from my international guests about their countries' proactive environmental policies. I believe electric vehicles represent a way to provide carbon neutral transportation and I would like to see the United States take the forefront in implementing this technology. I see plug-ins as the only technology that is both sustainable and scalable to meet the clean transportation need of the entire world."

THE PROJECT MANAGER, JIM PHILIPPI CalCars volunteer Jim Philippi from Houston has spent the last two years working on PHEV conversions using various battery chemistries. His car was converted in April 2007 at the previous Maker Faire. Now he has created Hybrid Plugs, a new company to offer parts, kits and PHEV conversion services in Houston. He says, "I've always been interested in energy efficiency and green technology. I've driven a PHEV in Houston for about five months and I've gotten up to 160 m.p.g., for a trip from downtown to home. I buy wind power from my local utility and I recharge my car every night for about $.60. That gets me about twelve miles of electric range each day. I'm not doing the Maker Faire or starting this company to get rich. My goal is to put as many PHEV on the road as quickly as possible. I gave nothing up and I commute to work without polluting my neighborhood or downtown Houston. Driving a PHEV just makes sense!"

DOCUMENTATION on the EAA-PHEV open source project can be found at

CONTACT James Philippi HybridPlugs@...


The Austin project also reflects new entities coming into the market: providing the tilt-up battery box and providing wiring harnesses and other parts. We'll have more to say about them in the future. (And after our car returns from Boston, we'll have a report on the Embedded Systems Conference conversion.)

Our client in Seattle has just broken his own record by achieving a new fuel economy record: 171 mpg and 1620 miles on a Prius tank.­ht/­about.html­pmwiki/­index.php?n=Ext.Conversion3 Here is his video of the fill-up at the end of this record.­watch?v=I5WmcnSkUTw

Hybrids-Plus recently delivered its Ford Escape conversion to New York State under its development contract (Hymotion and Electrovaya have also delivered Escapes). At the same time, the company's Davide Andrea has posted a tremendous amount of technical information on the Escape to the EAA-PHEV website, including photos of the opened-up original battery and electronics.­wiki/­Escape_PHEV_TechInfo#Component_locations

Jackson EMC, an electric coop in Georgia, part of the Cooperative
Research Networkm has made a 5:30 video about its PHEV conversion by EnergyCS­watch?v=vy2Ciagwrgk

STEP-BY-STEP PHOTOS OF A HYMOTION CONVERSION, one of the websites/magazines that's been convering advanced technology and alternative fuel cars the longest, has an article with photos showing the conversion by Hymotion of a PHEV owned by Wisconsin Public Power Inc. (WPPI)­index.cfm?content=build_plugin_hybrid

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