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Electric car maker/modifier Zap has been busy lately. At the end of February, they took an order for 100 electric SUVs from Korean company Samyang, who also happens to be its strategic investor and distribution partner. Now, they've announced an agreement with Battelle, an international science and technology company that manages Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, to license PNNL's Smart Charger Controller. The controller allows owners of plug-ins to minimize the cost of charging their vehic

Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota brand, came to Detroit on Monday to have lunch with some local media. Among the topics of discussion at the gathering were Toyota's plans for zero emissions vehicles.

They won't look like the second-generation Prius plug-in pictured above, but Toyota has announced the first of its non-European leasing programs for its new PHEV (see here). Starting late this year Toyota will start leasing 200 plug-capable Priuses to government and commercial fleets in Japan. A similar program has been mentioned by Toyota executives for the U.S. market in the past and an announcement on that should probably be coming soon.

We all know that there is a hardcore group of you out there chanting the mantra of "No plug, no sale!" Okay, well, at least a few of you. The problem is that, like commenters on the internet, the loud fringe makes most of the noise, but actually represents a very small percentage of the total population. For the rest of the car buying public, the realities of choosing a new car go well beyond the ability to "refuel" from a plug in the garage. This is the reality that Toyota, GM, Nissan, Mitsubis

While the main storyline for Consumer Reports' February issue revolves around the new Hyundai Genesis and its toppling of the mighty Lexus ES350 as the mag's top-rated entry-level luxury sedan, another tidbit of information regarding next month's rag caught our attention. Apparently, CR purchased a Hymotion L5 plug-in Prius conversion kit from A123 Systems, and testing proved to be a mixed bag. We don't have full details to share regarding the kit's installation or full fuel mileage statistics,

Despite Toyota's reluctance to release plug-in hybrid versions of its popular Prius hatchback, there are a number of companies that are willing to sell you a retrofitted model. Add another to the list, as Jungle Motors in Orange County, California, which has been converting Porsche 911s and Chrysler PT Cruisers to electric drive for a little while now, has just released its PHEV Prius. The company has created a facility that performs the conversion so the owner just needs to drop the car off. Af

Want a 2009 Prius with a plug? It's available now, to the lucky winner of this auction on eBay. This particular vehicle was modded by the Green Car Company out in Bellevue, Washington and features A123's Hymotion plug-in hybrid kit already installed. That kit doesn't come cheap and this price of this PHEV Prius reflects that. The current bid is $42,100 but the reserve has not yet been met. The price isn't holding people back, though, as the auction started out at $25,000 and that 46 bids have al

At least a few dozen people around the country have now done one-off conversions of hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape to transform them into plug-in vehicles. For those who may not have the hardware hacker gene in their DNA, the first commercially available plug-in conversion kit is now on the market from A123 Systems subsidiary HyMotion. Popular Mechanics Detroit Editor Larry Webster recently had the chance to sample a converted Prius with the HyMotion kit for a couple of days. The

The plug-in Prius tests that started yesterday in London were not without a bit of hoopla, and our friend Adam V. from Smartplanet was on hand to video a bit of the introduction. We, sadly, don't get to see the PHEV on the road - but I guess we've all seen Priuses driving by now and you can't really tell the PHEV version from the outside except for the stickers anyway - but Adam does get a few minutes of Q&A with Toyota's Colin Hensley and EDF Energy's Peter Hofman. Hofman says that even wit

Toyota President, Katsuaki Watanabe this week announced that the start of fleet testing for plug-in capable Priuses had been moved up by a year. At this year's Detroit Auto Show, Watanabe announced that several hundred Priuses with the ability to be plugged in would be delivered to government and commercial fleets in 2010 for field testing. That schedule has been adjusted so that the PHEVs would now be introduced in early 2009 with several hundred on the road by the end of the year. Over on the

Plug-In Supply has just released its new $4995 kit which converts your 2004-2008 Prius into a Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV). Because the system is based on the Cal Cars reference design and uses lead-acid batteries as opposed to the more expensive lithium or nickel-based batteries, this new kit is cheaper than many other PHEV conversion options. According to Plug-In Supply, the kit will allow your Prius to operate in electric-only mode for up to fifteen miles and at speeds of up to fifty-two mil

The Congressional Tennessee Valley Authority Caucus is a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives from the Tennessee Valley Authority area (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia). Today, the Caucus will hold a field hearing on electric drive vehicles in Nashville, and Toyota will be showing off the plug-in Prius prototype there. We're familiar with the Toyota PHEV Prius PR routine (we took one for a drive late last year at EVS23), but we'd b

The styrofoam hamburger container shape of the Toyota Prius elicits a lot of responses, good and bad. But when was the last time you saw one and thought, "wow"? Back when the hybrid was introduced, amazement might have been a common reaction, but we've seen the Prius in the U.S. for eight years already. What could possibly make us excited about the car now (well, aside from the high gas mileage). Toyota North America's head of product planning Mike O'Brien has been thinking about ways to bring t

Whether contemplating the possibility of a Lexus Prius or dreaming up a Prius convertible, people sure do like to tinker with Toyota's halo car. Of course, for many, the reason to mess with the hybrid is to squeeze more miles per gallon out of the car.

EnerDel's lithium-titanate battery has been independently tested by the Center for Transportation Research of the

Kim Adelman's plug-in Prius was at the Santa Monica Alt Car Expo back in October, but somehow stayed hidden from my camera and eyes. The good news is that EVWorld's Bill Moore spotted the car and talked to Adelman about the car and Adelman's new company, Plug-In Conversions, which will send people to your house to convert your Prius to a PHEV in a day while you're off enjoying a latte or a game of poker (or, OK, working).

This Friday, Toyota will deliver two plug-in Priuses to UC Davis for testing purposes. We've known about Toyota's PHEV Prius plan for a while now (the official announcement came back in July), but one of our clever readers, Joseph, submitted a tip that explains that perhaps the plug-in Prius has been in the works for six months, maybe even a year, before the July public acknowledgment. I'll let him explain:

Yesterday, in Tokyo, Popular Mechanics was briefed on Toyota's plug-in hybrid plans. The upshot is that "their plug-in development program was under way and that it may not wait for lithium-ion battery technology to mature." That means that the first plug-in consumer Priuses will likely use nickel metal hydride batteries, just like the current crop of demo PHEV Priuses (currently being tested in Japan and France).

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