Gold Peak Industries North America, a subsidiary of China-based GP Batteries International, has acquired an equity stake in Plug In Conversions Corp. (PICC), a designer, developer and marketer of kits that allow hybrid owners to convert their cars to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
Founded in May 2007 with an initial target of Prius conversions, PICC currently offers a 6.1 kWh NiMH replacement pack kit—using GP batteries—for the Toyota OEM 1.3 kWh NiMH pack. The PHEV kit sells for $12,500, including installation.
Under the new strategic partnership, PICC will first expand its US network of certified installers, the auto dealerships or mechanics using the NiMH battery kits to convert Priuses into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The 19-month-old start-up, based near San Diego, California, plans to add up to 10 new installers in 2009.
PICC will then begin to sell the kits wherever GP Batteries, the world’s largest re-chargeable battery maker outside of Japan, sells its products. In collaboration with the battery conglomerate’s engineers, PICC also plans to make conversion kits for other hybrids made by Toyota and those sold by Ford and GM. These will also supply an international market.
With PICC’s current system, a 2004 or newer Prius can be driven up to 25 miles on batteries alone at speeds below 34 mph. The PHEV-25 system will charge in about 6 hours from a 120V AC source. PICC offers a charger option that allows use of either a 120V or 240V AC source, and will charge about 3 times as fast at 240V AC, or in about hours.
The company will display its first Prius outfitted with GP Batteries at the San Diego International Auto Show, 31 Dec to 4 Jan, and take orders for kits.
For 18 years, Gold Peak has been manufacturing NiMH batteries which power hundreds of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and hybrids on the road today. These include the Solectria Force, Vectrix motor scooters, and hybrid buses in China and the Netherlands.
Other short-term plans under the new alliance call for development of kits with lithium-ion batteries, crash-testing of PICC-converted cars, and emissions testing, to begin in February at Argonne National Laboratory, for certification by the California Air Resources Board. PICC has obtained ARB experimental certification.
GP Batteries, the parent of Gold Peak Industries, North America, is one of the world’s major suppliers of primary and rechargeable batteries, including nickel metal hydride, lithium ion and lithium polymer systems in both cylindrical and prismatic formats. It is the largest consumer battery manufacturer in China and the world’s largest manufacturer of Nickel Metal Hydride batteries.