Plug-In Supply, Inc has just unveiled the “PbA10” Conversion System last week at the Plug-in 2008 conference in San Jose. Their system is based on the CalCars’ Open Source design, and it turns a standard 2004-2008 Toyota Prius into a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) with an all-electric range of 10-15 miles and improved average mileage of up to 100 miles per gallon (plus 1 cent/mile of electricity).
The conversion system uses a 5 kWh lead acid battery pack. The lead acid batteries are not old-fashioned, as you may think: they have a new extended lifespan of more than 800 cycles. The system is also very flexible, because it allows the user to upgrade to lithium-ion phosphate batteries which give your electric vehicle a range of 15-20 miles and a maximum speed in all-electric mode of 52 mph. The costs for these longer range Li-Ion batteries get lower every month.
The Pba PHEV battery pack is ready for commercialization. It contains 20 PbA20-12 lead acid batteries. It also contains the high voltage control systems closed in a steel box. They are built to last about 2 years, which is kinda short for a system that costs about $5000. The weight of the PbA system is 360 lb (163 kg), compared to 150 lb (68 kg) for the lithium-ion system.
Plug-in Supply is currently working on a PSI Lithium Ion Phosphate Prius+ conversion. They will use the latest batteries from Phoenix Silicon International (PSI). The chassis will provide access to the spare tire and is expected to provide 16 miles of EV mode operation and last the life of the car.
The cost of gasoline is raising, but all-electric vehicles’ cost has to be covered in a normal car’s lifetime. If you are about to change your $5000 system in 2 years (let’s not over-estimate the price, it may be lower, you’re only going to buy the batteries). You’ll have to drive a lot for that to happen.