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NYSERDA Awards PHEV Conversion Contracts to Four Companies (corrected)

by Jack Rosebro

The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) has made awards from its $10-million New York State Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Technology Initiative to four companies for the conversion of conventional hybrids to plug-in hybrids: Hymotion, Hybrids Plus, Electrovaya and EnergyCS.

NYSERDA awarded Hymotion and A123Systems contracts to provide three converted plug-in hybrid electric passenger vehicles (PHEVs)—one each of the Prius, Honda Civic and Ford Escape.

Evaluation will be carried out by Argonne National Laboratory, which has been has been designated by the US Department of Energy’s Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies as lead national laboratory for the simulation, validation and laboratory evaluation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, as well as advanced technologies required for PHEVs.

NYSERDA’s objective is to evaluate PHEV technology in our most common hybrid vehicles and to promote its adoption by the state’s hybrid fleet. Eventually, with economies of scale, we hope plug-in conversion companies can offer this service to the general public.

A123Systems and Hymotion are offering us a unique conversion package to demonstrate this technology quickly, safely and efficiently.

—Peter Smith, president and CEO of NYSERDA

NYSERDA has received their first PHEV conversion, a Toyota Prius, for approval and testing. It is expected to get up to 220 miles per gallon and cut carbon dioxide emissions in half as compared to an unmodified Prius.

The A123Systems solution incorporates batteries into a highly advanced, production-ready PHEV module that is lightweight, compact and requires minimal modification to the stock vehicle. All necessary components and safety features are integrated and contained within the module, including batteries, power electronics, charger, battery management system, safety sensors and manual-electric interlock. Due to its plug and play installation, the system does not require removal of the OEM battery pack.

NYSERDA awarded a contract to Hybrids Plus for the conversion of a Ford Escape Hybrid to a plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.)

This project, as part of the New York State Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Technology Initiative, is proving the viability of PHEV technology and the related environmental benefits when applied to the sport utility vehicle (SUV).

After converting the Ford Escape Hybrid the PHEV conversion kit will undergo testing and qualification for deployment in the New York State-owned vehicle fleet.

New York State seeks to accelerate the adoption and use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the State fleet and as personal vehicles. We, at NYSERDA, are pleased to work with Hybrids Plus to convert the Ford Escape Hybrid to plug-in service.

—Peter Smith

ShurePower, of Rome, NY will assist Hybrids Plus in the evaluation and testing of the conversion. ShurePower presently deploys Truck Stop Electrification Technologies—a plug-in infrastructure at truck stops, rest areas, travel plazas, warehouses, and truck depots—which provides the electricity needs of long haul drivers without having to idle engines.

Another award for the conversion of the Ford Escape Hybrid to a plug-in hybrid went to Electrovaya (maker of the Maya 100 EV—earlier post).

The fourth award went to EnergyCS for the conversion of a Prius to a plug-in. EnergyCS has a number of Prius PHEV undergoing testing by various agencies in the US and Canada. (Earlier post.)

(Thanks to Davide Andrea of Hybrids Plus for pointing out the omission of Electrovaya and EnergyCS in the original post. )




Correct me if I'm wrong, but won't it be much more difficult to turn the Honda into a PHEV? How do you go about adding the battery capacity to the mild hybrid? Good idea to keep the original NiMH battery from the prius. Not only will it provide some power but will help extend the life of the Lithium battery by absorbing the regenerative breaking energy.


I wonder whether they also considered Altair's batteries. From what I understand their latest cycle life tests show 85% capacity after a whopping 15000 cycles. From the A123 website, their batteries go down to 85% after just 600 cycles. My impression is that apart from these fairly important differences the specs between these batteries are quite similar.


Whoops, I made a mistake. The A123s also have a very high cycle life although exact numbers aren't given.


I have not seen independant lab verification of the Altair cycle numbers. If I were CEO of that company and my claims were valid, that is the first thing I would do. You just see "Altair's lab has confirmed..." right.


I think Altair is continuing to cycle their batteries beyond the 15K claimed. I base that on this interview with House:
"Evan House: Nickel Metal hydride has quite a few limitations, life limitation, severe life limitations, measured in cycles. A cycle would be a complete drawdown and recharge. Typically at a lower rate, an hour to two hour discharge, nickel metal you might get 1000 to 1500 cycles. We can get 20 times that much."
Here is the link:
Interesting read and there are other interviews with Phoenix.


SJC, while I agree that independant verification is desirable it sounds like their development phase has only just finished. They will probably have independant testers check them out shortly. Have A123 had independant verification? They may have but they also seem further ahead compared to Altair since their batteries are already in commercial power tools.


Altair’s battery is way different from Ni-Mh or Li A123 batteries. Ni-Mh has high specific power, poor low-temperature performance, and in order to prolong battery life it can utilize only 1/3 of its advertised energy capacity. It also has very high rate of self-discharge, high internal resistance, and only about 50% cycling efficiency. No questions, it was (and is) the first even produced battery allowing economical application in HEV, which was capitalized by Honda and especially Toyota. However, this battery is far from ideal to be used in PHEV vehicles. Notably, newly developed by Sanyo Eneloop (you can google it) Ni-Mh batteries have lower self-discharge rate and holds promise to be decent PHEV battery. Unfortunately, very little additional information is available for this battery.

A123 Li battery is no more then transitional technology with limited applications. Low temperature performance is poor, internal resistance, cycling efficiency, and actual deep-cycle capacity (without severely affect battery life) are marginal. Also, this battery is very tricky to manufacture, there are mountains of reported technical problems, and actually A123 is under serious patent infringement suit from Texas University and Quebec Hydro.

REPORTEDLY, Altair’s battery is something magical. 20 000 deep cycles (90% capacity) with only slight deterioration, good performance down to -50C, very low self-discharge and internal resistance, total inherent safety even in internal short accident, amazing power density of 4 Kw/kg, and ability to fast charge in 10 minutes. Shortcoming is energy density, which is comparable with Ni-Mh battery, but unlike for Ni-Mh this capacity could be utilized in full, making this battery in real-life applications having twice more usable energy density then current Ni-Mh. Still, energy density is lower than A123 (if one not counts that if deep-cycled to utilized its high energy density in full, A123 will deteriorate in 3-4 years of vehicular use).

Phoenix Motorcars pick-up with Altair battery received recently initial certification from CARB as 100% ZEV vehicle and is scheduled for sales in California in the middle of 2007.


Neil, even a mild-hybrid without an EV mode can benefit greatly from a plug-in hybrid add-on.

By pumping a constant 10 kW into the mix, even though this doesn't sound like very much and isn't enough to propel the car entirely at highway speeds, it means the gasoline ICE works only about a quarter to a half as hard as it normally would, so uses much less fossil fuel overall. An EV-mode is not required to make great fuel savings from a PHEV.

Andrey Doubter

Andrey -

Can you substantiate any of your claims regarding A123's technology? Specifically, define poor low temp performance, and marginality related to cycle life, etc. Further, what makes this technology more difficult to manufacture than anything else? It cannot be that different to manufacture, given the breadth of DeWalt's 36V power tool line.


My Personal Doubter:

I did not provide references for my claims for a reason: no verified data on buttery performance is available on the net for any battery, including A123. I base my claims on Yahoo BB rumors, unofficial second party evaluations, and alike. As for power and energy density evaluations, I did it by myself, and they are in line with the evaluation you can find at:

Number of 600- 1000 deep discharge cycling is official numbers, you can find it by yourself.

Low temperature performance I tested by myself, and if you are eager to contest it you can buy and test A123 butteries here:

I would be pleased to find that I was wrong in my evaluations.

Harvey D.


You have a good point regarding the usable stored energy density of various batteries.

An Altair pack, with an equivalent overall energy density, would go at least twice as far than current NIMH because it can be fully charged and discharged, instead of barely 50%. Its quicker recharge capability would also translate into more breaking power being recouperated in city traffic.

Mass production (in China or India) could make the Altair pack the ideal/affordable unit for PHEVs (all sizes) and eventually for EVs (as a second or town car).



I do not know about “affordable”. Not even hint of Altair’s battery cost was ever disclosed. Usually, batteries using nano particles technology are quite expensive and tricky to manufacture.

Max Reid

Its a very good initiative. Instead of waiting for auto companies to introduce plug-in, the startup companies can do this easily and probably cheaply.


Or we can just do the plug-in conversions for ourselves, and not have to wait.

Jake Lodato

Where can I find numbers of Ford Escape Hybrid and Honda Civic and Insight Hybrid sales in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming for 2006. I need the data for a DOE survey they ask of all Clean Cities Coalitions. Just the number of units sold total--breakout by state and vehicle. Toyota gave me their numbers right over the telephone!

J Chen

A complete 2KW Li-ion conversion kit is available under $2000
Check it out!

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