Jun 5, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
For several years, many Prius owners have been telling their dealers "I want a hybrid that I get to plug in." For the past two years, Prius dealers have been very supportive of individuals who come in with converted cars and need routine service.
We know Toyota wishes that the aftermarket conversions didn't exist: it detracts from its advertising message (which still in some cases STILL says, "you don't have to plug in our hybrids). And of course Toyota is concerned that any issues about quality or safety of third-party modifications could adversely affect the company's image, or the prospect for future "done right by the experts" PHEVs made by Toyota. But the interest levels are growing, not decreasing, and more than 150 conversions are on the road (see http://www.calcars.org/where-phevs-are.html for many of them).
Conversions are available from a number of aftermarket companies and from the CalCars/Electric Auto Association-sponsored EAA-PHEV Open Source Project for do-it yourselfers: see http://www.calcars.org/howtoget.html
Now in another very significant development, some Toyota dealers -- independent businesses whose main "bread and butter" comes from their ability to obtain, sell and support the automaker's products -- are responding to their customers' interest by for the first time supporting an aftermarket conversion: the federally crash-tested systems provided by A123Systems' Hymotion.
Hymotion's blog http://www.a123systems.com/blog/hymotion/ has just announced the company's six initial installers, which include two independent green companies and -- surprise -- four official Toyota dealers. The list is below. The posting makes clear that prospective customers should not contact those dealers, but instead go through the Hymotion website for orders. Go to the Hymotion website and blog for the latest info!
A123 Green CHIP dealer network:
Boston: Westboro Toyota
Washington, D.C.: Fitzgerald Toyota
Minneapolis: Denny Hecker Automotive Group
Los Angeles: Toyota of Hollywood
San Francisco: Green Gears/Pat's Garage
Seattle: Green Car Company
What are the implications of this news? We hope this new development, along with GM's announcement this week that the Chevy Volt will be scheduled for mass production in late 2010, will encourage Toyota to accelerate its current plans, which at the moment amount to a commitment to deliver 400 PHEVs for fleet evaluation by 2010.