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Plug-in Hybrids

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  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    In the case of the Chevy Volt it is only supposed to charge to 80% capacity so I don't think overcharging would be an issue. Also different Li-ion chemistries exhibit different characteristics when it comes to the heat they put off. The A123 System battery in question is supposed to not have the thermal runaway problems of the cobalt based Li-ion batteries found in laptops and cell phones. I'd be curious to find out more information about the A123 battery pack that caught fire.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    I was thinking this occurred while being charged. It was in fact while being driven.

    On June 7, 2008, the converted Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owned by Central Electric Power Cooperative in Columbia, SC, was destroyed by an internal fire that occurred during a routine drive. Thankfully, there were no injuries. But the converted Prius was destroyed. The cause of the fire is not known.

    Full story:
    link title
    This raises the question if the charging device is part of the original Prius or aftermarket. Of course Toyota can not be held responsible for changes to the original Prius. I am sure Toyota is not thrilled having their baby kluged up and displayed all charred from a fire.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,693
    "On June 7, 2008, the converted Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owned by Central Electric Power Cooperative in Columbia, SC, was destroyed by an internal fire that occurred during a routine drive"

    I would never get an aftermarket phev setup. These systems are so complex, and the components so unproven, that I want Toyota's or GM's neck on the line (along with mine).
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I didn't see any mention of A123 Systems in that article. The article also stated that the Li-ion batteries were intact. So it wasn't a thermal runaway issue. I'm guessing it was an electrical fire similar to what might occur in a home with shoddy wiring. While this is definitely something to be concerned about I don't think this is the type of fire that will be explosive in nature where the passengers will have no time to escape. I do agree that it's pretty bad PR for EVs and PHEVs.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    Here is the mention of A123. Part of the original post by Larsb.

    Boulder, Colo.-based Hybrids Plus has advised all of its conversion owners to stop driving the vehicles until further information is available. According to the press release, forensic examinations have not been able to conclusively identify the cause of the fire, but established that the battery cells – which, according to plug-in advocacy group CalCars.org came from A123Systems – were not the reason.

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/plug-in-hybrid-catches-fire-1032.html

    PS
    I tried to find info from the owner of the Prius just what kind of mileage they were getting. They did not mention it on their website. They have a total of 7 of these hybrid conversions from Hybrids Plus in Colorado.
  • ighigh Posts: 60
    Here is a mileage log for a PHEV Prius from Greenhybrid.
    I think it is an honest log. As you can see mpg varies from
    171 to 74. The former is for exclusively short trip city driving
    under 40 mph where the battery range sufficed for most
    days. The later is for mostly highway driving at
    60-65 mph. This is as expected. Most people will get
    in the 90-100 mpg range.

    http://www.greenhybrid.com/compare/mileage/car/5291.html
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    That's a little misleading because they don't take into account the electricity that was used to charge the battery pack. Theoretically one of these PHEV owners could make nothing but short trips, never use any gas, and claim infinite mileage. I'm pretty sure the EPA will assign some value to how many kWh of electricity the average driver will use when they determine the mpg rating of PHEVs.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    The package that BluePHEV has installed in his 2007 Prius is the PHEV-40. I would imagine that cost him close to $40,000 installed. So he now has a $70k Prius that has to handle like a pig with all that additional weight. He has no Toyota warranty and may save a few $1000 over the life of the vehicle. Strictly for the wealthy techno-geek with money to burn. I can think of a lot of vehicles I would rather have for $70k.
  • ighigh Posts: 60
    The PHEV-20 L5 kit from Hymotion is 10K now. The PHEV-40 kit should
    be 20K now. The economics are getting better with better battery tech,
    higher volume and higher gas prices but it is still not there yet.

    It is impossible to get infinte mpg from a Prius as the ICE will always switch
    on from a cold start to warm the CAT converter. I calculated that this
    operation burns .05 gals each time.

    So for my daily commute of 10 miles each way on city streets I will burn
    .1 gals. That gives me 200 mpg (without considering the charge)
    and yearly use of about 6000 miles. It will save me 90 gals of gas per year
    or $450 even at $5/gal.

    It will cost 35 cents to charge overnight at 9c/kwh. So that will cost
    about $100 per year. So early savings is max $350 and it leads to
    breakeven of > 25 years. So it is still not viable from a economic point
    of view - but maybe green point of view. I am hopeful it will be much better
    once Toyota or Chevy atually starts selling these or if the Saudis
    decide to really take us for a ride.

    Not too concerned about handling at < 40 mph on cty streets. Hymotion
    have crash tested for safety.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    I was thinking of Hybrid Plus in Colorado. They were charging about $24k for the entry level and $32k for the long range PHEV kit. I am not familiar with Hymotion. They are not yet selling their product. They are taking deposits for delivery starting in December. Hybrid Plus was selling theirs until one caught on fire. They have recommended they should all be parked until they can assess the problem. Both use the A123 Li-Ion battery.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Luscious Garage in SanFran

    Luscious Garage is offering to perform plug-in hybrid conversions with equipment from Plug-In Supply.

    Petaluma, Calif.-based Plug-In Supply. announced last week at the Plug-In 2008 conference that it will sell $5,000 conversion systems with lead-acid batteries, enabling a Prius to achieve the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon and drive 20 miles on a full charge. Kits with lithium-ion batteries cost $11,000.


    A conversion for $5K that gives 20 miles !! That's a great price !!!
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,693
    Hmmm...never can tell when you're kidding, Lars - if you go from, say, 50 mpg to 100 mpg, you'll save 1000 gallons over 100,000 miles, right? Worth about $4000? And the kit costs between $5000 and $11,000? hmmmmmm
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    You have to forgive him. He has a hybrid brain. Great at any cost. My question is how much that adds to the already Porky Prius? At least a 500 lbs of Lead Acid batteries. I think PHEVs are headed backwards. What happened to the NiMH batteries?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    "hybrid brain" -Good One !! LOL !!!
  • gwmortgwmort Posts: 22
    Hmmm...never can tell when you're kidding, Lars - if you go from, say, 50 mpg to 100 mpg, you'll save 1000 gallons over 100,000 miles, right? Worth about $4000? And the kit costs between $5000 and $11,000? hmmmmmm

    Assumes gas will stay at $4 a gallon over the next 100,000 miles. When I bought by 2003 prius 110,000 miles ago gas was much closer to $2 a gallon. Once our market corrects and we are paying global/European prices between $8-10 per gallon (currently likely to rise in years to come). Spending $5k to save 1000 gallons will look like a better deal.

    Any all electric range will be invaluable once the shortages arrive and Joe Gasburner can't fill his tank.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,693
    "Spending $5k to save 1000 gallons will look like a better deal."

    I might be prepared to roll those dice on a factory-installed version, but aftermarket? No way. Too complex of a system, to many things that could go wrong, too expensive if they do.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    Plus it will void the major items under warranty. Don't plan on the conversion place to cover a $10,000 HSD system that is damaged etc. I am sure it would free Toyota from any responsibility on the traction battery. Another $5k if it croaks. After market PHEV are for the wealthy Greenie with money to throw away.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    You dissenters make valid points but at least recognize the direction things are going. If plug-in technology can prove it's reliability and reduce it's price premium then it becomes a no-brainer. I don't blame people for wanting to stay on the sidelines for a few years. Personally I'm also watching from the sidelines but am definitely rooting for the EV's to prevail.

    I read an article the other day regarding Toyota's battery plans. They are currently pursuing their own Li-ion battery packs for their hybrids. For obvious reasons they are holding off implementing these batteries until they feel confident in their safety and longevity. At the same time Toyota is also investing heavily in zinc/air battery technology. If this pans out it could potentially deliver 3X the energy density of the best Li-ion batteries.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    I would buy an EV if it was available. Not too interested in the PHEV. Just too much crap to go bad over the long haul. Several years ago I wanted a GEM in the worst way to beat out the oil companies. It was Government regulations that blocked me. They are only legal on roads posted 35 MPH and below. The Xebra was just not a well built vehicle for the $12k price tag. Now GEM is importing the ACE and I would consider one of those. I think the regulators will do everything in their power to block EVs.

    Tata and Chrysler sign deal to import electric Ace

    Chrysler's Global Electric Motorcars division (GEM) is working with Tata to import fully-assembled vehicles that meet all the appropriate U.S. regulations. The battery-operated Ace has successfully navigated the required safety tests, and they're reportedly ready for production. Tata wants to eventually export up to 50,000 vehicles to the US, but they've pegged the goal for 2008 at 10,000 units. This is definitely the year to keep an eye on Tata.

    image
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,693
    "If plug-in technology can prove it's reliability and reduce it's price premium then it becomes a no-brainer. I don't blame people for wanting to stay on the sidelines for a few years. Personally I'm also watching from the sidelines but am definitely rooting for the EV's to prevail. "

    Absolutely. I look at the options being discussed, and think some combination of HEV/PHEV/EVs it the only option we have for the next 10+ years as an add-on to ICEs. The massive expenditures on hydrogen aren't going to yield anything in that time period, if ever. We already have the distribution system up, running, and tested for PHEV/EVs, unlike hydrogen. Yes, there will be some capacity constraints, but we know how to build power plants.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,863
    "Chrysler's Global Electric Motorcars division (GEM) is working with Tata to import fully-assembled vehicles that meet all the appropriate U.S. regulations. The battery-operated Ace has successfully navigated the required safety tests, and they're reportedly ready for production. Tata wants to eventually export up to 50,000 vehicles to the US, but they've pegged the goal for 2008 at 10,000 units. This is definitely the year to keep an eye on Tata."

    Does that big box in the back house the batteries? :shades:
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    Looks like they use them for appliance delivery in India.

    I just wonder what kind of range they have. I imagine with lead acid somewhere in the 25 mile range. It would work for me if it was legal. I can live with 25 MPH running my errands. The problem is the roads are all narrow and 45-50 MPH posted. Most places you cannot pass the bike riders without crossing the double yellow lines. I can imagine getting a few folks miffed at me plugging along at 25 MPH. The nursery I use is only 6 miles and all the stores we shop at most of the time are only 3 miles.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Here are almost all the plug-in conversion options in the USA right now.

    For hybrid owners with more money than sense
  • docvoxdocvox Posts: 3
    I'm employed by the post office as a rural mail carrier in NH, and my daily drive consists of a 30 mi. interstate highway commute, a 30 mi. mail route with approximately 500 stops and some instances with speeds above 30mph, then the reverse 30 mi. homeward commute. I currently drive a late model Ford Taurus wagon and get about 9mpg on the route and about 15mpg overall. This gets expensive! I've been thinking about the practicality of a hybrid vehicle, particularly the Escape or the Prius. I've test driven the Escape (and liked it) and have spoken to Prius-owning friends. (The Escape has an advantage because of the greater interior volume). Both vehicle present some problems in conversion to right-hand operation for the route. I have had concerns as to whether a hybrid would hold up to this fairly severe duty cycle or likely be running on engine for much of the route. The discussion now about plug-in hybrids has me interested again. Does anyone know of hybrids, regular or plug-in, having been used in circumstances similar to mine? I see A123 has an operation in Watertown, MA., not far from me. Does anyone know how I can contact someone in their tech department to query them?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    Is your Taurus high enough that you can reach the mailboxes without a strain? I would think the Prius would be ideal if you could get it converted and reach the boxes without a strain. The Escape would be ok also. Though you would probably get 10-15 MPG more from the Prius. Unless you have deep pockets I would avoid any after market plug in kits. They DO void the warranty as soon as you install them. You should be able to triple your mileage with a Prius. They have lots of room if you fold down the seats. I would try to order one built for the UK with right hand drive.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    A long time ago I posted that this would happen. People would put solar panels on parking garages and allow PHEVs and EVs to plug in.

    It's finally happening in San Diego. Let's hope it's a trend which catches on !!!

    UCSD Solarizes outside parking

    UCSD is a sunny campus, and they&#146;re taking advantage of it. As a way to capture more renewable energy, they&#146;ve planted Solar Trees on the roofs of two parking garages. The trees shade vehicles and soak up sun.

    I am starting to get frustrated that most parking lots and structures don&#146;t already have these &#150; how absolutely perfect are they? Everyone wants to park in the shade or in a sheltered spot, and businesses can always use the extra energy.

    Anyway, the trees also provide outlets so that students and faculty with plug-in hybrids and EVs can utilize the energy collected, which is a serious incentive for people who are considering buying hybrids…free energy? Yes, please.

    The best part for UCSD is that the trees were covered by three local companies, so the university is billed monthly for the electricity received, but didn&#146;t have to provide any initial investment.

    The solar trees are intended to be functional as well as look cool, with "trunks" and "branches." This kind of biomimicry is beginning to grow, with designers working to blend solar panels into environments in a more natural-ish way.

    Each tree can generate more than 17,000 hours of energy annually. This kind of green initiative could be great for a whole lot of other universities. Hopefully they get the green bug and start &#147;planting.&#148;
  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,032
    A reporter from a national magazine would like to speak with Toyota Prius owners who have bought the Hymotion kit to convert their car into plug-in hybrid. If you own or drive one of these converted vehicles, please respond to jwahl@edmunds.com with your daytime contact information no later than Monday, November 17th.

    Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email, karen@edmunds.com, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

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