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Hymotion Unveils Plug-in Hybrid Kits for Toyota and Ford Hybrids

The PHEV Escape model

Hymotion, a Canadian company, introduced plug-in hybrid (PHEV) upgrade kits for the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape and Mariner Hybrids at the Canadian International AutoShow this week. The Hymotion PHEV kits are based on a supplementary lithium-ion battery system that can be recharged by plugging it into a regular household electrical outlet.

Other systems are under development for the Lexus RX400h, Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid, according to the company.

The Hymotion L5 PHEV kit in a Prius

Unlike the approach taken by EDrive with its plug-in Prius system (earlier post)—replacing the original OEM battery pack with an Li-ion pack—Hymotion is supplementing the original NiMH battery system with its own Li-ion system that serves as the plug-in energy store.

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.

The addition of the li-ion battery pack does not change the basic operating strategy of the vehicles—all electric-operation is still limited to low speeds (e.g., below 34 mph for the Prius).

Plugging in the Prius

Hymotion is initially offering the PHEV upgrade in two models: the 5kWh L5 for the Prius and the 12kWh L12 for the Ford hybrid SUVs. Hymotion is sourcing the Li-ion battery packs from an as-yet unnamed Asian manufacturer.

The company is targeting fleet buyers initially. In unit orders greater than 100, the L5 Prius kits will cost $9,500; orders of greater than 1,000 units would see the price drop to $6,500. Hymotion has not set pricing for the L12 for the Escape/Mariner, although the company notes that “since it’s 2.5 times the power of the Prius system, a very high price tag will be expected.

Both systems are now available for fleet owners only because we still need more durability test miles before releasing it to the consumers.

—Anthony Wei, Hymotion business development

Plug-in Hybrid Kits
SystemHymotion L5Hymotion L12EDrive
Vehicle Toyota Prius Ford Escape Hybrid
Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Toyota Prius
Battery type Lithium-ion Lithium-ion Lithium-ion
Energy 5 kWh 12 kWh 9 kWh
Charge time 5.5 hrs / 4.0 hrs 12 hrs /6 hrs 9 hrs
Weight 72.5 kg 147.5 kg 113.4 kg
Estimated battery range 50 km (31 miles) 80 km (50 miles) 56 km (35 miles)
Estimated fuel economy (comb.) 100 mpg 60 mpg 100–150 mpg
Price $9,500 for orders >100
$6,500 for order >1,000
n/a $10,000–$12,000

Hymotion had earlier partnered in the development of a hydrogen fuel-cell powered ice resurfacing machine (the eP-Ice Bear). Hymotion has its headquarters and research and development lab in Toronto, Canada. The company also has offices in Boston, USA, and five subcontractor facilities across North America.



Good point odo, especially since roughly half the 'cars' sold are in fact trucks that get at best between 13 and 18 mpg.

So maybe what we need to do is spend money to drive a campaign to show Joe Sixpack that a 6,500 lb. 4X4 is a significant part of the problem. In fact if those drivers went twice as far per gallon as they do today, that'd be roughly a national gas savings of 25% right there.

Too bad both Big Oil and our political leaders have so much $ invested in petroleum that they'd spend billions smearing such an effort every step of the way.

Shaun Williams

Your way off track odograph.

This is about encouraging transition technology that weans us of fossil fuels so that eventually, as battery technology improves (due to having an healthy market) we can drive "mostly electric" hybrids.

Then we have a real choice on what energy we consume (ie green electricity) how can you ever achieve that by driving smaller ICEs?

Given a chance, PHEVs are a real chance to be THE "disruptive technology" that turns the automotive industry on its head.

I like the idea of buying trees (I'm a Greenfleet subscriber) but we need to kick the carbon addiction ASAP.


It is all about the overall effort.
terrapass or cfls are short term things you can do now.
plug-ins are a long term technology that the potential to a major impact.

Both a short term and long term are necessary to be successful.


If W actually was sincere about changing America's current course of oil addiction, he'd promote the obvious things like conservation every place possible, slow down and drive more sensibly, carpool, telecommute, proper tire inflation, avoid excessive idling, turn down the heat, turn up the AC, turn off everything not currently in use, etc.

That would make not only a HUGE dent, but it would polarize Americans to innovate things that we aren't seeing now. Heck, we might even create a whole American industry that exports energy technology to 3rd-world nations (as a much more responsible form of aid) and to big consumers like China and India where we currently have an enormous trade imbalance. We might even stop funding terrorist organisations with $Billions.

But then, W's big oil buddies wouldn't be happy, would they? Elmer Fudd might take him on a quail hunting trip.


You know Shaun, I actually read Clayton Christensen's book on "disruptive technologies" (and James Utterback's boader book on the "dynamics of innovation").

Don't you remember that in those books the great danger is building a "value network" around a high end product, one which selects smaller portions of an existing market? You don't want to chase a niche market into a smaller niche.

These plug in hybrids are championed by a minority of hybrid owners, who think reinveting 50% of their car's value, to save a couple hundred gallons of gas a year, is reasonable.

Sure ... take a chance, but IMO the "disruptive technology" is more likely to come from the low end, building from a strange market that no one takes seriously now, but will become something else.


electric scooters becoming high performance electric motorbikes

golf carts becoming viable neighborhood vehicles.


(My intuition is that the "better batteries" that everyone hopes for will make it possible to build a plug-in hybrid, or an electric Ducati ... and I'll take the electric Ducati)


This upgrade isn't practical right now, but that's not important.

The important thing for the moment is hybrizing the whole fleet, just as Toyota has said they plan to do, and doubling fuel efficiency at a reasonable cost.

The importance of battery upgrades is for the future, when batteries get much cheaper, and gas gets suddenly much more expensive. At that point you want to be able to upgrade your fleet very quickly instead of waiting for your inventory to turn over.


That sounds very reasonable Nick, especially if you say "if and when" batteries get much cheaper. ;-)


My prediction...

10 years from now we will all be driving something very different from the gasoline engines the majority drive today. Either it be an electic car, an E80 engine, hydrogen, Biodiesel, or a plug in hybrid. I believe the plug-in hybrid to thoeretically be a front runner because it requires 0 change in infastructure. Where as ethanol, hydrogen, require massive $$$ to create the distribution network.


My fearless prediction ...

10 years from now US gasoline prices will be where Europe's are today (good historical precedent for this). Most new cars sold will be like the ones in Europe today (more hybrids, but similar sizes). Enough wealthy and die-hard people will hold out, that half the fleet will look like what we have today.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, folks on gas or electric scooters or in neighborhood electric vehicles, will be somewhat common .. but they will consititute no more than 10% of the "traffic" on the road.

Shaun Williams

I like this game ...

In a decades time; 50% of vehicles manufactured by developed nations will be hybrids, 10% of those will be plug-in.

China will lead the world in numbers of vehicles manufactured but most will be cheap ICE or electric-only vehicles.

People world wide will be lazier and fatter and drive more.

At last, I'll have a decent made-in-China battery pack in my electric car.



Have you been following what's happening with batteries lately? There's been an explosion of R & D, and a really diverse array of new technologies, at least some of which will succeed at making batteries much cheaper and more effective in every way.

It's really astonishing. I know new technologies like this are like restaurants (90% fail), but some of these things are very mature, and there's a real depth of competition right behind them. The best example is A123, which is first out of the gate with nano-lithium batteries. Black & Decker/Dewalt has committed to them with 36-volt batteries which are expected to take the professional tool market by storm: they'll be MORE powerful than their corded equivalents, and last twice as long as existing portable power tools.

Eestor appears to be right behind them, with an ultracapacitor which costs $40/Kwhr, and stores more kwhr/lb than lithium-ion! Changes everything..


I'm reading "Fooled by Randomness" right now. Very good book. I won't post too much of the text, but page 59 has an extensive bit on the unpredictablity of new tech, and the ration of press releases to successes:

"[looking backwards] we only see and count the winners, to the exclusion of the losers (it is like saying that actors and writers are rich, ignoring the fact that actors are largely waiters - and lucky to be ones, for the less comely writers ususally serve French fries at McDonalds). Losers? The Saturday newspaper lists dozens of new patents that can revolutionize our lives. People tend to infer that because some inventions have revolutionized our lives that new inventions are good to endorse and we should favor the new over the old. I hold the opposite view. The opportunity cost of missing a 'new new thing' like the airplane and the automobile is miniscule compared to the toxicity of all the garbage one has to go through to get to the jewels (assuming these have brought some improvement to our lives, which I frequently doubt)."

That's a good rant ;-). I feel a little bit that way, but don't always feel upset about it. I mean, why worry when all I have to do is read of inventions with mild interest ... and wait for things to appear in the stores before getting truly excited.


BTW, I've actually written myself about this backwards-looking filtering effect in arguments with true believers in things like hydrogen cars. They're sure things will work ... because we've had so much success in the past.

It's always nice to buy a book which confirms your thinking ;-)



Odograph, I know what you mean, but I really have taken that into account. For instance, I have little faith in hydrogen, and I think thin-film solar is going to grow rather more slowly in the short term than it's most breathless advocates.

One has to look at the details, rather than rely on general optimism or pessimism. You have to look at the track record of the industry, the individual companies and their investors, and so on.

Have you looked at the two things I mentioned?


I've been seeing "nano" and spins on batteries as well as things on ultra-capaciters, and since I'm on the feeds of a variety of green, peak energy, and sustainability blogs, I've probably been skimming the news. I'm sure I've seen news of both here at GCC.

But I'm telling the truth when I say that I choose to be patient. If I don't choose to be an invester (and I don't), then I can treat it as happy news when something makes it to market.

I can be cautiously optimistic without counting any chickens at this point in time ;-)


Oh, maybe I should say that I'd prefer to see our national strategy a little more "bird in the hand" and less "bird in the bush." The current focus on new technology is dangerious, because new technology does not always come when you call it.

Shaun Williams

I thought that's what we were discussing here. New technology that HAS already come but some consider the price a bit high.

I respect any decision not to invest in it but why would you discourage others by attempting to justify your own personal position. The technology won't come if people don't support it. I'm afraid this doesn't fit with being "cautiously optimistic".


Way up at top I said:

"At several grand per, I personally consider these to be proof-of-concept. Maybe someday when my battery dies I'll weigh the costs of a Toyota replacement versus a 3rd party solution."

... I don't even think the makers of Hymotion/EDrive think they have created a high-volume solution.

As far as why I spoke up later ... that bit about "Anything under $15,000 to turn a Prius into a potentially near-zero emission vehicle is a bargain." was too much for me to pass up.

Geez louise ... a "bargain."


I've got a Prius II (2005) with a Terrapass on it. I've been WAITING for these lithium batteries to come out. I seriously would go out and buy one tomorrow (Probably EDrive). I like the idea of almost all-electric driving. I personally can't stand it when the Prius ICE kicks in. I sometimes drive around the parking lot the long way when I get to work, just because I love the feel of all-electric.

Call me crazy. But people like me will finance the "price-drops" everyone else is waiting for. Just like the dot-com investors who lost all that money unwittingly financed the buildout of the internet.

I paid $1,300 for a Sony Betamax in 1977. I paid $600 for a CD player in 1983. I paid $800 in 1991 for a 2MB, that's right, 2MB memory card. As an early adopter my whole life, I'm probably poorer than some, but I have the satisfaction of sitting back and knowing that I helped a lot of key technologies get off the ground, by voting with my dollars.

It's not about gas mileage. I just traded in a very nice (paid for) 2001 Chrysler Sebring convertible last June on my Prius. The $500 a month I pay on the Prius (for SIX YEARS) would have bought plenty of gas to keep the Sebring happy even if I drove from L.A. to Vegas and back every weekend. I don't care. And though I loved it, I don't miss the convertible.

I want an electric car, and I want it NOW.

Shaun Williams

Actually, a chance to participate in the seeds of a technology solution that has the best real chance today of dramatically reducing our negative impact on the planet is worth a lot more than $15,000, it's priceless.

You're not crazy BalckSun, it's called "vision".

Michael Slavitch

"Good on you USA"

Hymotion is Canadian.

Michael Slavitch

I seem to recall the days when a graphical workstation cost $25K and required a team of engineers to maintain it, and hyperlinking was done by this nasty thing called SGML. And that was in 1988 dollars.

Digital imaging systems (the precursor of 'cameras') cost thousands of dollars and cellphones were briefcased-sized toys for the rich.

$10K for early adopter onsey-twosy stuff, not in volume, not cost reduced, not subject to volume discounting using the supply chain used by Dell?

Holy crap! That's cheap! And that's retail with margin!

Building something like a Prius that way would cost $150K!

We're five years away from it costing as much as people already pay for flip-down DVD players and leather seats.

Quit carping.



I think maybe you're confusing two issues.

I think that you may be thinking in particular about hydrogen. You're very skeptical about it, and I think you're right to be so. I think that much of what's going on with hydrogen has nothing to do with excessive optimism. Rather, I think that we're dealing with resistance to change by the car and oil industries, combined with excessive pessimism.

Sadly, I think that much of the push for hydrogen really is a desire to distract people with long-term goals, while keeping on with the usual. For the domestic car industry, it's a preference for the truck-based products which have saved them. Hydrogen is good for the oil & gas industry, as it's especially efficient when using reformed natural gas, and not at all efficient at storing electricity. A big investment in hydrogen is only good for oil & gas. I say "sadly" because I hate to attribute such near-conspiracy motives to people, but the evidence seems to support it.

Secondly, GM got burned badly by the EV-1. I don't think they ever really had their hearts in it, and I think they really sabotaged it themselves to a great extent, but within the company they see themselves as being victimized by an attempt to rely on battery technology, and there is an institutional reluctance to embrace it that goes beyond the normal resistance to change. Hence their preference for hydrogen, which is not-battery, and also feels kind of like gasoline in proposed distribution and use.

What do you think?


I think you have to picture me as a relaxed person. I'm semi-retired and plan on going on a bike ride to the post office and library a little later.

I watch technology evolve, and watch prices. I try to buy in after economies of scale knock down prices. I have a kill-a-watt monitor. I've halved my electric use. I have a Prius. I've halved my gasoline use. I'm having a little trouble halving my natural gas use ... but I've discovered I can be comfortable in a sweatshirt in a 55-65F house.

My motivation is half environmental and half frugal.

I'll happily buy anything that works out.

If I'm just talkin' (or typing) I could say that I do consider "conventional" electric cars and scooters to be the best bet for post-gasoline transportation ... but really I have this relaxed attitude that I don't need to sweat which technology comes after gasoline. I don't have to be right.

... continuing to ramble, I think that walkable (and bikeable) cities are a great opportunity too, and it may even be that walking a couple blocks to the office beats driving high priced gas/electric cars in the future. For some folks.

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