The Plug-In Conversions Corporation (PICC), founded by Kim Adelman, was started 19 months ago in order to sell conversion kits to that gave a Prius a plug. PICC announced this week that the battery company Gold Peak Industries North America has acquired an equity stake in PICC and will give the fledgling company a broader reach. The new team will move to offer conversion kits wherever Gold Peak batteries are sold. PICC will offer kits for vehicles that are not called the Prius, as well. The press release talks about "other hybrids made by Toyota and those sold by Ford and GM." The plan is to have 10 new installers signed up in 2009.

The first PHEV Prius with Gold Peak Batteries will be on display at the 2009 San Diego International Auto Show that starts on New Year's Eve. This $12,500 conversion kit swaps out Toyota's standard 1.3kWh NiMH battery pack with a 6.1kWh pack and allows the car can go 25 miles on electric power. A little over a year ago, Adelman was talking about an 8-mile range from his $8,000 plug-in Prius conversion kits. We spoke with him at EVS23 about his Nilar nickel-metal hydride packs and other expensive kits.

[Source: Plug In Conversions]

PRESS RELEASE:

Battery Giant Gold Peak Takes Equity Stake in Plug In Conversions Corp.

First Plug-In Prius With Gold Peak Batteries On Display at SD International Auto Show

POWAY, CA-Gold Peak Industries North America, a subsidiary of GP Batteries International, has acquired an equity stake in Plug In Conversions Corp. (PICC), which positions the latter to sell its plug-in Toyota Prius conversion kits worldwide and produce kits for hybrids made by other manufacturers.

Under the new strategic partnership, PICC will first expand its U.S. network of certified installers, the auto dealerships or mechanics using the Nickel Metal Hydride battery kits to convert Priuses into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The 19-month-old start-up, based near San Diego, 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.

"My motivation has always been to protect the planet and our new relationship with Gold Peak will enable us to make a significant difference," said Kim Adelman, PICC founder and president. "We regularly get calls from dealers and others all over the world wanting to become installers, so demand is there. Now we can begin to fulfill it."

With PICC's system, a 2004 or newer Prius can be driven up to 25 miles on batteries alone with an average fuel economy of 100 miles per gallon, increasing efficiency while reducing emissions. The company will display its first Prius outfitted with GP Batteries at the San Diego International Auto Show, Dec. 31 to Jan. 4, 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 busses in China and the Netherlands.

Using a proprietary Gold Peak pack, PICC proved that it could successfully integrate a battery management system with the Prius computer system, a highly complex challenge, said Don Buckley, President and CEO of Gold Peak Industries North America in San Diego.

"This integration first and foremost gives the vehicle the best level of safety," Buckley said. "It also delivers the ability to maximize performance and the opportunity to monitor, regulate and protect the vehicle's factory and battery components. We are confident of a highly productive relationship with Kim Adelman and Plug In Conversions Corp."

Slumping new-car sales, a tightened credit market and softening prices for used Priuses all bode well for the new alliance, said Dr. Andy Frank, CTO and founder of Efficient Drivetrains Inc.

"More importantly, it will help to get these cars on the road in bigger numbers," said Frank, known as the father of the modern PHEV. "Until the major automakers begin to mass produce these cars, we must retrofit the existing fleet to make a meaningful impact on global warming and increase fuel efficiency."

PICC's conversion kit, which replaces Toyota's 1.3kWh NiMH battery pack with a 6.1kWh pack, sells for $12,500, including installation, which can be done in less than a day. The battery pack, which can be charged from any 120-volt wall outlet, comes with a three-year warranty.

The new partnership will benefit both parties as well as consumers, said Carolyn Coquillette, owner of San Francisco's popular Luscious Garage, which has installed 30 conversion kits in the past year.

"Gold Peak is wise to join the plug-in effort and Plug In Conversions gives GP a great venue to prove their batteries in an automotive context," Coquillette said. "From what I understand, the kits will have exceptional EV-only range. They will compete on performance and it means more kits will be readily available."

Other short term plans under the new alliance call for development of kits with lithium-ion batteries, which Gold Peak also manufacturers, 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 air board experimental certification.

ABOUT PLUG IN CONVERSIONS CORP:

Plug In Conversions Corp., based in Poway, CA, designs, develops and markets kits that allow hybrid owners to convert their cars to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The company was founded in May 2007 to help Toyota Prius owners convert their cars. Its primary focus is to provide and install complete conversion kits at affordable prices with same-day installation. Information: www.pluginconversions.com.

ABOUT GOLD PEAK BATTERIES INDUSTRIES NORTH AMERICA:

GP Batteries, the parent of Gold Peak Industries, North America, is one of the world's major suppliers of primary and rechargeable batteries. It is the largest consumer battery manufacturer in China and the world's largest manufacturer of Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. It supplies an extensive range of battery products to original equipment manufacturers, leading battery companies as well as consumer retail markets. It is traded on the Singapore exchange. Information: www.gpina.com.

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