Today we’re taking a step away from the regular www.aminorjourney.com posts and looking at a personal project of mine – Velma, the Plug in Prius.
This weekend the weather has been nice enough to finally take the additional Prius battery packs which have been sitting in Velma’s luggage area and taking up valuable space.
Obviously the above arrangement isn’t great in anyone’s eyes. We need to figure out a more secure and permanent way of storing the two additional Prius batteries.
Read on after the jump to see the new battery arrangement take place.
Welcome folks, to the new charging standard for EVs and PHEVs in the European Union. It’s based on a design by Mennekes, and will support a range of charging options for EVs at anything from a standard 13A, 240V supply through to a mighty 400V three-phase, 63A supply.
Best of all, it seems like the Mennekes system is designed with interoperability in mind and may even offer some retro-fitting for suitable vehicles.
With Elektromotive set to roll out a series of upgrades to it’s charging points in the UK to allow for a ‘pay as you go’ charging system (as well as a new version of their Elecktrobay charging station supporting the new standard) there really isn’t a better time to look into going electric.
More details of the new charge standard after the jump
Last week at the 2009 SAE World Congress the final plans were bashed out for a new way to charge plug in vehicles. Sadly it’s not an inductive one like the oh-so-simple charge paddles which were used on cars like the EV1 and RAV4EV to name but a few. No, this new standard is a good old-fashioned mechanical plug. You plug your car in and up to 30 Amps at either 120 or 240V flows into your car. Neat.
The latest version of the charging standard, called J1772, will include a five prong plug, capable of allowing communication between the external charger and the car charging. The Volt is rumored to be using it and Tesla have already signed up to make it standard on their cars. But it’ll only be used in the USA. Europe, in it’s own special way, has gone a different route, with a three-prong design capable of up to 80Amps at 240V. Unfortunately, the European standard is three-phase, meaning that it is unlikely to work in most European domestic situations without a complete home re-wire.
Fast charging is great, but does this spell the end for the DIY converter, or those of us who already drive cars with standard domestic plugs? And when you scratch the surface we risk looking at a future where charging plugs are far from standard. With the European standard and US standard finalized, are car companies now going to play nice and only ever use one of two EV charging plugs. What about cross-continent imports? And will those of us with cars now be able to retrofit our cars?
Earlier this week, various reports surfaced detailing Toyota’s plans to release the 2010 Prius as PHEV, but only to fleet customers. The range? A shade over 12 miles (20 km).
While it’s good to see Toyota going towards a Plug in Prius, it’s a little frustrating to see a small PHEV range when compared to the commercial and DIY conversion options out there for the current Prius. It’s also a little frustrating to see that Toyota only plans to sell the PHEV prius to fleets rather than individuals. Is that the right choice? And is 12 miles EV only range enough?
Photo by Swimfinfan, reproduced under creative commons license.
Earlier on this week I ran an article detailing ten top DIY conversion links. I decided that perhaps it’d be nice to detail ten top PHEV sites for anyone interested in plugging their hybrid in. Unlike the EV conversion scene many plug in hybrid conversions are commercially done, partly due to the expense of battery packs and the demographic of the owners wanting conversions. However, it’s possible to convert a vehicle (existing hybrid or a regular engined car) to a plug in hybrid yourself. You just have to know where to look for help and ideas. Hopefully this list will help.
It is possible to convert a regular gas-powered car to a plug in hybrid too – so don’t think this list is exclusively for those Prius owners. While plug in hybrids aren’t anything new (the first one was back in the early 1900s) we’re certainly at a point where plug in hybrids are starting to enjoy a bit of a golden age. At least, I think that’s where we’re heading. I don’t think we can get to full electrics without at least a passing time of plug in hybrid popularity. I hope that in a few years’ time my list will need redoing as more and more conversion and PHEV options become available.
After the jump are my top ten sites for PHEV DIY converters to look at. Most of them are Prius-based, but by no means are they all so. There’s some other plug in hybrids too. Some of the sites won’t give you much information and others may need a few revisits. I hope you enjoy them all.
Today’s post has been rattling around in my head for the past week or so after a couple of comments to previous posts I’d made really got me thinking along with some really intense discussions with various EVers this week. Big thanks to Joe Lado, my good friend Pyoor Kate and Andrew Bissell for getting me thinking. What about? Well, about the future of plug-ins in the UK.
See, it’s long been my thought that EV conversions have to play a part in the future of plug in vehicles. How else are we going to get the 33 million or more vehicles on the roads of the UK switched to greener fuels? Scrapping them all isn’t an option. At £2,000 per pop, (in a scheme similar to those held in Germany and Ireland) I simply don’t see the money being there. Someone would have to fund it. As Pyoor Kate put it when I chatted to her earlier today, £2,000 to
force coerce people into scrapping working vehicles to switch to newer vehicles may be a great idea on the face of it, but what if those vehicles don’t need replacing. What if they’re mechanically pretty sound?
Details of a better deal for encouraging EV and PHEV takeup after the jump
At a rather subdued Knockhill race-track in Scotland, UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and UK Transport Minister Geoff Hoon announced a plan to support Plug In vehicles, not only buying them but “Building them”.
Mr Hoon and Lord Mandelson also had the privaledge to take one of BMW’s Mini E around the Scottish track, publising the Government’s plans to offer a subsidy of between £2,000 and £5,000 to car owners wishing to buy a new EV or PHEV from 2011 onwards. The plan also includes a £20m kitty to pay for the installation of more charging points and infrastrucutre to help Brits go green. Mr Hoon said “”The scale of incentives we’re announcing today will mean that an electric car is a real option for motorists as well as helping to make the UK a world leader in low carbon transport.”
More thoughts on this news after the jump
The plug in prius is a strange beast. Promised by Toyota many times and not yet on the market, many owners (like me) have taken the time and energy to convert their own 2004-2009 Prius to a plug-in hybrid. There are even companies who, if you have enough money, will convert your Prius to a plug in without you worrying about doing it yourself.
Jerry Asher is amongst one of the increasingly large number of lucky souls who has a prius which you can plug in at night. He loved the idea of the plug in Prius so much that he decided to drive his PHEV prius (called the Spirit of DC) around all forty-eight of the mainland US states to highlight the good a plug in vehicle can do to the economy, the environment and the security of the USA. (Of course, it also helps in the UK, but we’re a bit behind and only have a few dozen PHEV prius in the whole country, of which two – mine is one – are DIY converted.)
Photo by M.Berkley
Press release and exciting news after the jump