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Hymotion Delivers Converted Plug-in Prius to Car-Sharing Service

23 August 2006

Priushymo
The Hymotion L5 PHEV kit in a Prius

Hymotion has delivered one of its L5 Prius Plug-in Hybrid systems to HOURCAR, a car-sharing program that serves Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

The Hymotion L5 plug-in system (earlier post) serves to more than double the fuel efficiency of Toyota’s Prius hybrid, delivering 100+ mpg depending upon speed and range.

The Hymotion kit is based on a 5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that supplements, rather than replaces, the original equipment NiMH pack in the Prius. The PHEV system recharges from the engine and regenerative braking during operation and from the power grid when the vehicle is parked and plugged in. Once the PHEV battery is depleted, the vehicle resumes normal operation using the factory battery. While the PHEV battery is in use, the OEM battery fuel gage indicates its status.

Hymotion also has a 12 kWh kit for the Ford Escape / Mercury Mariner hybrids. The company is developing other systems for the Lexus RX400h, Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid.

HOURCAR runs a 13-vehicle fleet of Priuses in the Twin Cities area. HOURCAR members make self-service reservations online or by phone, pick up an HOURCAR at a nearby hub, run errands, return the car to its reserved parking space, lock it up, and walk away. Cars have on-board computers to record trip information and members are billed monthly.

August 23, 2006 in Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)

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This is so cool. I love the idea of hacking hybrids to implement something the dumb-ass manufacturer could have easily done. As this is happening in the Twin Cities, E85 should be easily obtained, for a pretty sweet carbon footprint. Wait, is the Prius E85 compatible?

Toyota made the Prius with a special compartment (currently wasted space, very unusual to design this into a vehicle these days) under the rear parcel shelf. It looks like it was designed specifically to accept a PHEV battery without having to redesign the entire vehicle.

Toyota designed the Prius so it would be easy to perform this conversion (although I suspect they anticipated OEM installs as a factory option several years down the line rather than aftermarket conversions today).

I've read about tests done on a 2001 Prius for E85 compatibility, and it basically runs fine without modification because the O2 sensor adjusts the air/fuel ratio to proper stoichiometric ratios, but running like that for any period of time will trigger an error code in the computer since it would be a problem if it were running like that on gasoline. The other minor problem was cold starting caused a lot more carbon monoxide pollution due to the extremely lean mixture before the oxygen sensor heats up and gives a reading. Basically it turns out that Prii are nearly ready for E85, given a few minor ECU upgrades. But to really take advantage of E85 octane (Prius is designed to run on very low octane fuel) you'll need a turbo so the effective compression ratio can be increased, and advanced timing, then you'd have an engine capable of getting about the same MPG on gasoline or ethanol.

I thought a lean mixture would reduce CO. Just wondering.

So basically the Prius is not E85 compatible out of the box. That seems totally ridiculous to me. My mother has a 2001 Dodge Caravan, purchased in New England, and it is E85 ready (sticker on the gas cap cover).

Ha! Toyota has the compartment ready! Maybe its time they got off their asses and made a TRD battery pack upgrade?

Oh well, I guess 100mpg on imported blood gas is still better than nothing. ;)

Gasoline vehicles run rich at start up until the O2 sensor heats up. This gives a lot of CO.

> "The Hymotion kit is based on a 5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that supplements, rather than replaces, the original"

Sounds pretty cool. So if the Prius uses 250 watts per mile and the pack is 5000 watts total, it would have a 20 mile all electric range.

If my daily commute is only 16 miles total, I could run on battery power every day and recharge overnight.

So who supplies that battery pack that hymotion is using?

Kyle Dansie

> "return the car to its reserved parking space, lock it up, and walk away"

When is it getting plugged in? If it isn't, no benefit, just PR.

Toyota doesn't do it because of regulations!!!
Many of the regulations in the US hamper development, but are needed to protect the public.
A good balance would be if Toyota helped them produce the supplemental kits.

Kyle, click on the blue highlighted part of the article that says "(Earlier post)" for all the details on this very exciting upgrade!

I presume an HourCar staff member will be plugging in the Prius before they leave. In the Twin Cities, there are still a number of outdoor parking spaces with electrical outlets. We use them for the add-on engine block heaters some of us have to heat up our vehicles in winter. My wife has one on her car.

As for E85, there is plenty of opportunities to buy the alternative fuel in Minnesota. We now have more than 280 outlets selling E85 (average price 40 cents less than reg. unleaded). In one month (July 2006) Minnesota drivers bought an estimated 2.1 million gallons of E85 -- a new record. We need to bring together technology we have right now -- the ability to build plug-in hybrids -- with cleaner-burning, largely renewable alternative fuels like E85 and biodiesel.

Awesome.

Battery research needs to be scaled up to achieve the potential this technology has to offer. Even if there is a 34 mph all electric upper speed limit (I wonder if that can be "tweaked"), it is still impressive. If I owned one of these, I doubt I'd have to worry about speeding tickets.

Now, if Toyota could only offer this technology as a $5k or $6k option. I'd buy.

there's no all-electric upper speed limit; it's a myth that got spread excessively over the 'net. i've taken my mom's 2003 ("classic") prius up to 44 mph on all electric.

My mother has a 2001 Dodge Caravan, purchased in New England, and it is E85 ready (sticker on the gas cap cover). Ha! Toyota has the compartment ready! Maybe its time they got off their asses and made a TRD battery pack upgrade?"

Thanks for your 2 cents, Chingy - if you read up on the article the Hymotion upgrade costs $10k for fleet sales.
PS: E85 doesn't help too much when the ICE averages only 20 mpg


Not really sure of your point. Of course the upgrade is pricey, a small company has to recoup R&D. Toyota could introduce this such that economy of scale kicks in.

My point on E85 was just the absurdity of the Prius not being compatible and a 5 year old minivan being compatible. Sure, current corn ethanol is also a joke, but at least it is domestic. Once cellulosic really gets going, ethanol will be a good substitute in regions with a refinery. Farther out, the transport and storage issues may still make it difficult/pricey.

Where's Joe, I miss him!

I look forward to checking this out up close at the Fair and later at the co-op.

I like the idea that they add a battery without taking out the stock battery. If you take out the stock battery you are losing out a lot on money: you likely can't ever sell it for what you paid for it. Just a suspicion.

Why don't people add another stock battery and wire them in parallel for double the range? Has anyone done that?

Even if there is a 34 mph all electric upper speed limit (I wonder if that can be "tweaked"), it is still impressive. If I owned one of these, I doubt I'd have to worry about speeding tickets.

Then someone better tell ACPropulsion or Tesla

“there’s no all-electric upper speed limit”.

Lensovet, I believe the Prius PHEV conversions work by implementing the “electric mode” button on the left of the dash (not in service for US drivers – thanks EPA!!?). This, by Toyota design, causes the ice to kick in at 34 mph in order to get some fluids to some parts that would not otherwise get them w/o the ice running occasionally.

However, since once the top speed of 34 is reached, the motor continues to output the same horsepower (probably the wrong term). So at 44 mph, you are still mostly in electric mode and the ice is only providing the incremental horsepower needed.

I, too have gotten my Prius II in electric mode over 34. It’s a real kick!

By the way, anyone know how much a plane ticket from O’Hare to MSP would cost if one stays over on a Saturday??!

By the way, anyone know how much a plane ticket from O’Hare to MSP would cost if one stays over on a Saturday??!

About $270 this weekend (FR-SU) and $180 next weekend (FR-MO). Labor Day's the last day of the Fair.

By comparison, Amtrak (Empire Builder) is $170-220 and Megabus[.com] is $64-78. Greyhound's running a $50 special right now.

http://greyhound.com/deals/chicago_specials.shtml

A compact rental car with gas should run you around $138 (about $68 for gas only at 36 mpg).

Thanks, Joseph!

I wonder how you would get out the spare tyre.

George:

On a level road you can drive the the Prius II all electric up to speeds of around 70 km/h. This is the speedometer reading, the actual speed will be somewhere around 65 km/h (speedometers always exaggerate), which comes to about 40 mph. This is the technical limit for electric only driving. Why they limited the forced electric mode (the EV button) to 49 km/h, I don't know.

"So at 44 mph, you are still mostly in electric mode and the ice is only providing the incremental horsepower needed."

The hybrid drive is not programmed that way. At the moment the ICE kicks in, it will supply most of the power to the wheels. The battery will only be used to assist acceleration.

I have moved from the flatlands of Florida to the mountains of Tennesse, and my 05 Prius ICE stays off much more. It's 12 miles to the nearest store, and I just set a record of 62.8 miles to the gallon for a 608 mile tank of gas! Anyway, going down a slope on the interstate at 70mph the ICE is off, and powered by the electric motor. Steep enough and it is recharging the batt while holding it back. Have to use the "B" mode somtimes, this engages the engine without combustion to provide pumping losses to save on your brakes........

Joe, what say you to the irony of the Prius NOT being E85 compatible? You haven't made your usual unibomber manifesto-style posts this time, so I'll refrain from needling you.

Joe, what say you to the irony of the Prius NOT being E85 compatible? You haven't made your usual unibomber manifesto-style posts this time, so I'll refrain from needling you.

Excuse me, but would you please cut out those kinds of comments? I don't appreciate them, and I'm sure many other people don't either.

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