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Commercial Retrofit for Plug-in Prius

3 May 2005

EDrive Systems, a joint venture between EnergyCS and Clean-Tech, has introduced a commercial retrofit system that converts a Prius into a plug-in hybrid—“Gas-Optional” hybrid (GO-HEV) using the new term of favor.

The company estimates that an EDrive-equipped vehicle can average 100 to 150 mpg for roughly the first 60 miles of the day, compared to 45-55 mpg for a conventional Prius. The vehicle also has the capacity to run in "electric-only" mode at neighborhood speeds, resulting in zero operational emissions.

Current conversions are done on a demonstration basis at the EDrive facility. EDrive is seeking funding to establish a production facility, and then will set pricing. The company plans to have a retail option available to consumers by 2006.

EDrive is using Valence Technology lithium-ion batteries. The product is engineered by EnergyCS and will be distributed by Clean-Tech.

The EDrive product—and EDrive itself—stem from the pioneering work done by CalCars on the PRIUS+. (Earlier post.)

In the fall of 2004, CalCars completed its PRIUS+ prototype using lead acid batteries, and began receiving advice from EnergyCS. CalCars ended up adopting EnergyCS’s battery management system.

EnergyCS began digging more deeply into the concept and project, and ended up partnering with Valence Technology. Those two companies unveiled the resulting version of a GO-HEV Prius at EVS-21 in Monaco earlier this year. (Earlier post.) This is also the  vehicle shown in the announcement of a commercial system above.

The other part of the EDrive story is CalCars’ introduction of Clean-Tech to EnergyCS.

We at CalCars are thrilled at the prospect that, starting in early 2006, individual and fleet customers will have the opportunity to purchase EDrive retrofits from such a stellar source. This can be a giant step in demonstrating the benefits of plug-in or gas-optional hybrids.

EDrive’s business success will complement our non-profit efforts—and we expect that their satisfied customers will magnify our impact. We hope many of those who’ve been asking CalCars, “when can I get a PRIUS+?” will soon get answers from EDrive. And we hope fleet purchasers will also begin realizing GO-HEVs will soon be in their future.

—Felix Kramer, CalCars founder

More detailed background, and an outline of CalCars’ go-forward strategy is available on the CalCars’ news group here.

May 3, 2005 in Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (3)

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Comments

I skimmed intensely but could not spot a price ... it is probably safe to assume one has not been set?

Correct. EDrive will set pricing after they get funding for the produciton facility. (3rd paragraph. :-) )

I purchased a Lexus Hybrid RX 400h and took delivery on 2005/04/21. I tried to ask the salesman why there was no provision to plug the vehicle into my wall socket in my garage and he kept insisting that Toyota/Lexus is having problems because people think that they HAVE to plug in their hybrids. But I WANT to do that, I insisted.

It seems like the party line at Toyota is to avoid PHEVs.

Will I be able to convert my new RX 400h to a PHEV anytime soon?

This is frustrating.

don

What you heard is indeed the party line. Toyota (and Honda) both bend over backwards assuring people that they do not have to plug in their hybrids. (A vestige of reaction to consumer response to earlier electric vehicles, I suppose.)

(Of the biggest automakers, only DaimlerChrysler has an active plug-in hybrid product, and that’s on their Sprinter commercial van.)

In terms of timing, you’re more likely to be able to convert sooner to plug-in using EDrive (or someone else to come) than on waiting for an official solution from Toyota. Which means next year at the earliest.

The best bridge solution, it seems to me, would be for Toyota to support EDrive. I don’t know if such conversations are happening or not. But they should.

Just a quick comment on an otherwise on-the-mark report. While EDrive is talking with investorw, EDrive's plans for 2006 are not dependent on additional investment.

Thanks for the correction, Felix.

Does EDrive plan to sell new converted Priuses, or will I have to delivery a Prius to them for conversion? Does Edrive use different (lithium?) batteries than the stock Prius? How does this effect the warranty?

Still in development:

TOSHIBA'S NEW RECHARGEABLE LITHIUM-ION BATTERY RECHARGES IN ONLY ONE MINUTE

New Battery Offers Unsurpassed Recharge Performance And High Energy Density

TOKYO, March 29, 2005 - Toshiba Corporation today announced a breakthrough in lithium-ion batteries that makes long recharge times a thing of the past. The company's new battery can recharge 80% of a battery's energy capacity in only one minute, approximately 60 times faster than the typical lithium-ion batteries in wide use today, and combines this fast recharge time with performance-boosting improvements in energy density.

The new battery fuses Toshiba's latest advances in nano-material technology for the electric devices sector with cumulative know-how in manufacturing lithium-ion battery cells. A breakthrough technology applied to the negative electrode uses new nano-particles to prevent organic liquid electrolytes from reducing during battery recharging. The nano-particles quickly absorb and store vast amount of lithium ions, without causing any deterioration in the electrode.

The excellent recharging characteristics of new battery are not its only performance advantages. The battery has a long life cycle, losing only 1% of capacity after 1,000 cycles of discharging and recharging, and can operate at very low temperatures. At minus 40 degrees centigrade, the battery can discharge 80% of its capacity, against 100% in an ambient temperature of 25 degree centigrade).

Toshiba will bring the new rechargeable battery to commercial products in 2006. Initial applications will be in the automotive and industrial sectors, where the slim, small-sized battery will deliver large amounts of energy while requiring only a minute to recharge. For example, the battery's advantages in size, weight and safety highly suit it for a role as an alternative power source for hybrid electric vehicles.

Toshiba expects that the high energy density and excellent recharge performance of the new battery will assure its successful application as a new energy solution in many areas of society.

Major Specifications of New Battery

• Excellent Recharge Performance

The thin battery recharges to 80% of full capacity in only a minute. Total recharge takes only a few more minutes.

http://www.toshiba.com/taec/press/dmfc_05_270.shtml

The current model is that you’d have a Prius to which an Edrive conversion would be applied, either by EDrive, or presumably, in the future, by certified shops. (Speculating a bit here, but that seems to make sense.) Yes, EDrive uses different energy storage system than stock. And the warranty questions are being worked out...which they will need to be by the time the conversion is available.

If I have to buy a Prius from Toyota, then have the batteries removed and replaced by Edrive, that will bump up the price of the car by $8,000, right? Not a good scenario. Better to buy the Prius minus the batteries.

Its nice to know we have an alternative to gas vehicles.I might be purchasing a hybrid vehicle in the future,but I definately would like to know makes the best "battery" for the hybrid vehicle before I make that
decision.As you know consumer wants the best for their
monies worth.Do you have any feed-back?

As specialist of electric connection:
(Author of the actual design of EV connectors (US & EUR versions))

And also as:
Daily user of electrical bike and potential user of a Plug in Hybrid car version.
With 3 young kids, a car like a Plug in Hybrid Toyota Prius with a larger luggage compartment would be suitable for me.
Less stressed by the increase of petroleum price and happy to leave to my children a durable planet, I would do the 10 miles daily distance to go to work in silence.

After the failure of the first electrical vehicles, I believe and do hope that "Plug in Hybrid" is now the most suitable solution to operate a soft transition toward the after petroleum era.

May I have more some more information about the car electrical interface:

Will it be possible to charge outside?
What type of connector will be used on the car? Will it be locked when charging?
Has an electric flap been designed like what we can find on all electric cars?

Good courage and success to your project

Joseph

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