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2010 Plug-in Prius Prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

Koei Saga, the managing officer of the Toyota Motor Corporation, might say that his company is "very excited" to expand plug-in hybrid (PHEV) testing when that's the announcement of the day, but he's also quite willing to give plug-in vehicles a verbal smackdown at other times.

Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota Plug-In Prius Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota Prius PHEV prototype - Click above for high-res image gallery

The long tailpipe. The longer you've been interested in cleaner cars that come with a plug, the more chance there is you've heard about this topic and thought of ways to mitigate the effect of the resources that are being consumed elsewhere to move your wheels. Solar and wind are two obvious clean choices to power an EV, but they're not as prevalent as coal-fired electricity in the U.S. So, given this situation, what impact with plug-in vehicles have on the overall greenhouse gas emissions in th

When Consumer Reports tested out the Hymotion L5 plug-in Toyota Prius conversion earlier this year, they weren't overwhelmed with the results. Sure, the mileage they observed was boosted to about 67 mpg over the first 35 miles of the drive, but that didn't match the claims of 100 mpg (or more) that Hymotion and A123 Systems make about their product.

When Consumer Reports tested out the Hymotion L5 plug-in Toyota Prius conversion earlier this year, they weren't overwhelmed with the results. Sure, the mileage they observed was boosted to about 67 mpg over the first 35 miles of the drive, but that didn't match the claims of 100 mpg (or more) that Hymotion and A123 Systems make about their product.

Thanks to a beefed up bit of software, Priuses converted to plug-in drive by Plug In Conversions Corp. (PICC) have gotten quite a bit better. They can now go up to 70 mph using nothing but their batteries and get 170 mpge. The software manages to get around Toyota's built-in top speed limitation of 34 miles per hour in EV mode, as PICC president Kim Adelman told us when we spoke to him at EVS23. All of this goodness doesn't come cheap: the software upgrade will cost customers anywhere between $2

Plug-in Toyota Prius prototype - Click above for a high-res gallery

To get a little bit of clarification on the reported 12-mile EV-only range that the plug-in Prius is achieving in current testing, we spoke with Toyota Prius vehicle specialist Stephanie Wohlgamuth, who is working at the Toyota booth here at the SAE World Congress. Wohlgamuth said that the number is fairly accurate, and that the vehicles are currently driving between seven and 14 miles on electrons only. While this is notably shorter than the Volt's 40-mile EV-only target, Toyota is giving itsel

According to the Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun in Japan, Toyota's upcoming plug-in Prius will have a range of a little over 12 miles (20 kilometers) on electric power only. That's significantly less than the EV range that's planned for PHEV competitors like the Chevy Volt, but it also means the PHEV Prius should cost considerably less than vehicles with larger battery capacities.

According to Toyota, its plug-in Prius hybrids are averaging 65 miles per gallon in real world testing. This is an improvement of 15 mpg over the recently-unveiled 2010 Prius. The secret to the big fuel mileage increase is a battery with the capacity to store much more energy than the unit in the standard Prius. This means a lithium ion technology and a much greater expense. So far, Toyota has not committed to a date when you'll be able to actually purchase a PHEV Prius for yourself, but it does

Click above for high-res gallery of Kim Adelman's Plug-in Prius

Even if not everyone likes the Prius conversion aftermarket results, it can't be a bad thing that there is one more team out there willing to add batteries and a plug to your Prius, right? The WSJ recently profiled Daniel Sherwood and Paul Guzyk of Berkeley's 3Prong Power Inc., which will upgrade your Prius for about $7,000. That seven grand will get you an extra 5 kwh of power from 360 lbs of lead acid batteries (originally designed for electric wheelchairs), enough to go about 10 miles in elec

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,

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 pres

Click above for high-res gallery of the plug-in Prius

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

"Plug-In 2008: A Short Drive to Tomorrow" is the world's first convention dedicated exclusively to plug-in hybrid technology. The event tales place next week, July 21-24, in San Jose, CA.

The first known instance of a plug-in hybrid car going up in flames occurred on June 7 in Columbia, South Carolina to a 2008 Prius that had been converted to plug-in capability for the Central Electric Power Cooperative. The conversion was performed with a Hybrids-Plus PHEV15 conversion kit that uses an A123 Systems lithium ion battery pack. The incident is still under investigation by Phoenix, Arizona-based Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation. Initial information indicates the fire

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