Categories: Global Tech News

100 Northern California Households to Receive Plug-in Priuses

Yesterday, Global Tech News brought you news of Fisker’s exciting new Hybrid Premium Sports Sedan (HPSS). The sexy four-door promises an all-electric range of up to 50 miles and combined range of 620 miles when the electric motors are working in conjunction with a diesel or gasoline engine.

Today, however, Global Tech News is bringing the hybrid news back to more realistic levels with the more plebian plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius. One hundred members of the Northern California AAA will be given eight-week loans of a modified Toyota Prius with lithium-ion battery packs and plug-in capabilities.

UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies’ Plug-In Hybrid Center is sponsoring the program which will begin in spring 2008.

“This is the first large consumer study of plug-in hybrids. We’re the advance guard of putting a lot of these [cars] in households,” said center director Tom Turrentine.
Over the course of the entire program, one hundred families will share ten Priuses — each of which costs $15,000 USD to convert to lithium-ion/plug-in form. The conversions are performed at Pat’s Garage in San Francisco.

When equipped with lithium-ion batteries that have been fully topped off via overnight charging, the modified Priuses are said to achieve 100 MPG — a figure that is routinely inflated thanks to the plug-in nature of the vehicle.

Households that are selected to receive a plug-in Prius are required to have a daily commute of 20 to 120 miles and access to a 110-volt outlet for overnight charging.

Also, AAA members who wish to be selected for the program should be prepared to show a heightened level of enthusiasm for hybrids or at least watch “Smug Alert!” before the interview process starts.

“We’re going to be interviewing households every week,” continued Turrentine. “We want to know how people respond to the car. Are they excited because it is cheaper [to operate]? Are they excited because they are saving the world?”

Independent companies and research labs have been at the forefront of outfitting Toyota’s Prius with plug-in technology. Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC) showed off a Prius that was retrofitted with plug-in capabilities and 63 of its LiFePO4 cells. LTC proclaimed that the battery pack was good enough to give the Prius an estimated EPA rating of 125 MPG.

Toyota, obviously aware of the benefits provided with such tech, has seen fit to start its own factory-backed trial run of plug-in Priuses.

Toyota still, however, has not embraced lithium-ion batteries. The company has expressed safety concerns with the batteries and will not use them for its next generation Prius.

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