Green Car Congress  
Go to GCC Discussions forum About GCC Contact  RSS Subscribe Twitter headlines

« GE, INL Researchers Collaborate on Waste Heat Recovery Research | Main | Swedish Public Transportation Authorities and Bus Companies Searching for Liquefied Biomethane Partners »

Print this post

Software Upgrade to Prius PHEV NiMH Conversion Kit Enables All-Electric Driving At Up to 70mph

10 June 2009

Poway, California-based Plug In Conversions Corp. (PICC) has completed a software upgrade to its 6.1 kWh NiMH plug-in hybrid (PHEV) conversion kit that enables all-electric mode driving at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour (until the battery pack is depleted) in a converted Prius. The software upgrade is based upon patented technology developed by Chicago-based Ewert Energy Systems, which has granted PICC exclusive rights for its use in Prius conversion kits.

Previous Prius PHEV conversion kits—including PICC’s earlier generations (earlier post)—have been limited by Toyota programming to a top speed of 34 mph in all-electric mode.

What we’re essentially offering is all-electric performance for about 25 miles at highway speeds. The car is no longer limited to 34 miles per hour, all-electric.

—Kim Adelman, PICC founder and president

Some previous Prius plug-in conversion kits allowed motorists to go as fast as 52 miles per hour using a “forced stealth” mode. But that can force the electric motor to run above its recommended speed range, said Ewert Energy Systems co-founder and vice president Andrew Ewert. It also requires drivers to stop and restart the vehicle before its gas engine can engage, which can cause safety issues and erase emissions data recorded for smog checks.

Our system allows the gas engine to turn on instantly, when needed, and allows us to initiate a controlled engine warm-up at any time to meet strict emissions standards, thus eliminating the traditional problem of a cold start.

—Andrew Ewert

The software upgrade also allows PICC-converted cars to operate in an enhanced hybrid mode at various speeds, with the vehicle heavily favoring the electric motor versus the gasoline engine in different modes, Ewert said.

Ewert Energy Systems video (handheld) of driving a Prius PHEV conversion at highway speeds.

The upgraded PICC kit boosts mileage while reducing emissions by maximizing use of the car’s electric motor in all driving modes, according to PICC. PICC says that its system also can recoup more regenerative power from braking than a factory-installed Prius battery. When the PICC battery pack charge is depleted, the converted Prius reverts to its normal factory HEV operating mode.

PICC’s conversion kit adds about 220 pounds (100 kg) to the vehicle, but rear springs are upgraded to maintain the rear height at factory specifications. A software upgrade, retailing for $2,000 to $2,500, will be made available for sale later this month to new and existing conversion kit customers. A free trial version of the software upgrade will later be introduced.

PICC’s conversion kit, which replaces Toyota’s 1.3-kilowatt hour NiMH battery pack with the 6.1kWh pack, retails for $12,500. Conversions can be completed in about one day and the kit is covered by a three-year warranty. The batteries (which carry an expected 10-year lifetime) are manufactured by Gold Peak Industries North America, a subsidiary of GP Batteries International. Gold Peak purchased an equity stake in PICC late last year. (Earlier post.)

The conversion kit and software upgrade were tested for emissions by Argonne National Laboratories, which determined that the PICC system meets the SULEV emissions standard, according to PICC.

PICC’s existing conversion kit allows Prius owners to recharge their vehicles in six hours using a regular 120-volt outlet, or in as little as two hours with an optional high-capacity charger.

PICC will begin California Air Resources Board emissions-control certification testing later this month. The company also intends to complete crash testing of PICC-converted vehicles so that future owners can qualify for green-vehicle tax credits.

PICC also intends to develop conversion kits with lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Gold Peak. PICC has three existing dealers with seven additional sites planned nationwide by year’s end. The company plans to produce similar PHEV conversion kits and software for other hybrid electric vehicles.

A Prius equipped with PICC’s third-generation NiMH conversion kit is on display at the 2009 Advanced Automotive Battery and EC Capacitor Conference, at the Long Beach Convention Center.

June 10, 2009 in Conversions, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0)

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4fbe53ef011570ea13bd970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Software Upgrade to Prius PHEV NiMH Conversion Kit Enables All-Electric Driving At Up to 70mph:

Comments

Now one can have the projected GM Volt experience and fuel economy for many $thousands less and months(years?) ahead.

It's interesting that of GP's three lithium-ion battery types, PICC uses NiMH batteries. Of course they must use many times more, smaller(with many times more connections and higher costs) NiMH batteries because of the restraint of trade (10 amp/cell max) actions perhaps perpetrated by some auto and oil firms.

Ah, for the past elegance of those simple 1997 RAV4 EV-95 NiMH batteries, crated and ready to transport the world without oil.. http://www.ev1.org/

Assuming the prius gets about 45 miles/gallon prior to conversion, and assuming an average gas price of $4/gallon means that it would take over 140,000 miles to cover the cost of the $12500 conversion, not including the small cost of electricity to charge the pack. But then again, most prius owners are probably not concerned about gas costs but other (environmental) costs.

I suppose if someone were able to do their entire commute in electric only mode, this would reduce engine wear and thus maintenance costs.

New Prius + conversion = ~$35,000.

I don't think that will be thousands less than the Volt with the tax subsidy unless PHEV conversions are also included in the subsidy.

Just to figure out your numbers here, how much is the subsidy, like $7000? Does the regular Prius qualify, meaning it would cost $23,000 after the subsidy, for an original price of 30,000 (35,000 minus 12,000, then plus 7,000)? It would be interesting if the subsidy would apply to this upgrade because that would bring its price to $5500, and that's a contender for the beginning of the end of Chevron. I guess that's why they are doing their crash testing to get their green credits, as mentioned above, but what does that mean.

Kelly, do you have any more info on what the restrictions are, when you said, ``NiMH batteries because of the restraint of trade (10 amp/cell max) actions perhaps perpetrated by some auto and oil firms.

Ah, for the past elegance of those simple 1997 RAV4 EV-95 NiMH batteries``

@Mark,

The http://www.ev1.org gives some good explainations.

The 1994 Stan Ovshinsky patent I read applies to over ten amp per battery cell NiMH batteries - economical and intended for EVs. This technology is what GM bought and later sold to Texaco - who became part of Chevron six days later. Chevron then sued the Panasonic EV-95 batteries and assembly lines out-of-existence.

Presently, the oil company NiMH battery division(AKA Cobasys) is (surprise - surprise) in dire financial straits and, over the many years, never licensed nor sold NiMH EV batteries in mass scale.

It's said that the only reason the Prius 1, 2, 3 and other hybrids exist at all is because Toyota and others cross licensed the under ten amp/cell NiMH's before they could be buried as well.

From what I have read, Gold Peak has an original license to produce over 10 amp cells and is working with at least 1 HEV car conversion company.

Does the Toyota warrantee remain valid?

Can the electric motor safely power the car above 52 mph to 70 mph when it is normally limited to 34 mph?

@SJC, I didn't see NiMH cells above 9000 ma(9 amp) in their products.

No, I did not either. As far as I know, they COULD make them without a law suit but they do not. I leave it to others to try and figure out why.

"Does the Toyota warrantee remain valid?

Can the electric motor safely power the car above 52 mph to 70 mph when it is normally limited to 34 mph? "

Good question, Hyundai are the only ones I found not to locate 'fine print' on warrantees.

On the other hand, doesn't the electric motor kick in at any speed the car's floored?

The Prius operates with at least one electric motor in operation at all speeds; if MG1 (motor/generator 1) is “unconnected” it will spin freely and the IC engine will not drive the wheels at all.
Max acceleration in “low” gear is with MG1 as a generator and MG2 as a motor.
The actual transmission (with the gears) has only one gear ratio (1 forward, no reverse)
Above 34 mph the motor/generators and the IC engine must work together to power the car at all times.
The main value of extra batteries is to increase the gas mileage.
The maximum all electric speed is more for bragging rights.
So all is well if it is OK to put the higher power into the motor and controller etc or, more to the point, if Toyota says it is OK.

More green hype by folks with stuff for sale, but do know what they are talking about. The Prius cannot run at 70 mph without the engine on. To hold the engine off, the planetary gearset (aka power split device) that connects the engine to the generator and to the motor would have to turn at about 11,000 rpm and generate zero torque (about 2 kw of losses)- not a great way to run an electric vehicle. But more importantly, for the Prius to run at 70 with the engine off, the planet gear speeds would be over 14,000 rpm, which it simply is incapable of doing.

Gold Peak was one of the first companies worldwide to license from Ovonics NiMh battery chemistry, and, according to old agreements, was grand-fathered to manufacture any NiMh battery they like. BTW, they still buy chemicals from Ovonics, and their small format NiMh batteries (speaking from personal experience) are arguably the best on the market.

ECD/Ovonics/Cobasys is unique company (thanks to Stan Ovshinsky) which is on leading edge in amorphous PV cells, NiMh batteries, phase change memory and computer chips with potential of cognitive artificial intellect, to name a few. It is also the sole known public traded company which survived 50 years operation with only single year of profitable operation.

ECD parent patent for basic NiMh chemistry 4623597 from 1986 expired at 2003, and from that date use of any format NiMh battery to power pure BEV is free to anyone, because Ovonics parent US patent 6330925 (expiring in 2014) covers use of NiMh battery in HYBRID gasoline-electric vehicles only.

Nilar makes a larger format NiMH cell that is used by at least one HEV to PHEV conversion company. There is a site that has interviews from people at both companies and they are pretty careful about what they say about Chevron.

http://www.nilar.com/

There are varying statements about large format NiMH EV batteries and a maze of patents and firms.

Anyone can Google: Chevron NiMH EV battery ,to find THOUSANDS of public web sites seemingly stating that Chevron crushed the EV battery - just as GM crushed the EV1 car - which begs questions about what can be done.

The deal made between Chevron and Panasonic may never be known. It was a sealed deal, but one thing is fact, Chevron has not licensed any battery maker to make large format NiMH for an EV. Cobasys has been more like a front company that shipped bad batteries to GM and failed to make progress on a contract with Daimler. Now Chevron is suing ECD/Ovonics to gain total possession of all patents, due to "non performance". If controlling who got what licences for what purpose was not enough for Chevron, now they want it all.

If you really like to have a affordable plugin hybrid, Why wait? You can convert your hybrid with a simple complete Li-ion PHEV conversion kit made by Enginer under $2000. It is available on ebay. Search by keyword, phev.

WOW - SJC nailed it!! It's just so hard to believe the possible depth of contempt and arrogance.

By any measure, Stan Ovshinsky and his near five hundred(500) patents are brilliant. His breakthroughs and enabling technologies are worth billions and respected world-wide. Yet an oil company gets controlling equity and thereafter his original work and company faces lawsuits and bankruptcy.

No one ever thought GM would face justice. Perhaps it's time the government investigated their ICE partners. Many have/are having their highest profits and would be able to finance bailouts better than the taxpayers.

The government need not renew oil land leases, oil tax breaks, patent abuse, etc. while battling war, pollution, climate change and the real cost of gasoline. FYI - dated, but interesting.. http://www.icta.org/doc/Real%20Price%20of%20Gasoline.pdf

One one hand you have the government talking about clean air and less imported oil and on the other hand you have the EPA not supporting ZEV and making it difficult to get CNG conversion kits approved. Right hand, left hand or maybe just bureaucracy, whatever...I just don't think it all is very coordinated. Maybe that could be what some people want.

Bureaucracy is a key factor, but see how so many thousands understand the EV1/EV-95 battery dealings and are so disgusted that they publish it on the web. With something that blatant, what else is going on? Is billions to AIG, CITI, GM, etc. a surprise? Rome is turning over in it's grave.

It would be nice to get ahead of at least one ENRON.

There does seem to be a lot of reluctance to take it on. Chevron has huge cash reserves and could make life difficult for any corporation or individual. They just to not want to fight the fight, there is little or no upside to the risk.

"There does seem to be a lot of reluctance to take it on. Chevron has huge cash reserves and could make life difficult for any corporation or individual. They just to not want to fight the fight, there is little or no upside to the risk."

A great deal of truth, but perhaps honesty, dignity, freedom from war and oil terrorists - foreign and domestic, clean air, and technical progress are a worthy upside.

SJC,

Do you have this site? It would be interesting to hear it.

"There is a site that has interviews from people at both companies and they are pretty careful about what they say about Chevron."

So I presume that Nilar's technology is not under Chevron's patents, its that right? Or is it part of the original exemption that preceded GM's developments? If so, does that mean their batteries can be used in a full fledged EV, or are they limited like the Prius?

"Now Chevron is suing ECD/Ovonics to gain total possession of all patents, due to "non performance". If controlling who got what licences for what purpose was not enough for Chevron, now they want it all."

But this will all come crashing down by 2014 when the patents expire, right?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Green Car Congress © 2014 BioAge Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Home | BioAge Group