Clark gives an update on Prius conversion to plug-in hybrid

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Earlier this month, we told you that Clark bought a $9,000 kit (the price has since dropped!) that would allow his 2009 Toyota Prius to be converted into a plug-in hybrid.

Boy, did we get some Clark Stinks posts about this one! The conversion, which is also costing him $500 in labor, will make his car something like a cross between the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf.

Now that the conversion is done, Clark wants to share some early impressions of how the Prius is running.

The consumer champ took his daughter to school today on surface streets and made the ride as an electric-only vehicle, with no gas assist whatsoever. (The cost of the electricity is a little over a penny per mile.)

After that errand, he had to attend a charity event that required a 30-minute freeway ride. Clark used a toggle switch on his dashboard to switch from electric-only mode into a blended mode. So for this ride he ran his Prius like an electric car getting assistance from gas power.

He’s now averaging about 83 miles per gallon with the vehicle, which he admits is less than he’d hoped.

A word about the conversion itself. There is now absolutely no storage space behind his back seat! The space has been taken over by four modules — a giant canister with lithium batteries, a fan to keep things cool, a battery management system and another device that he has no idea what it does!

Obviously, this kind of conversion is strictly for the early adopters; it’s not anywhere near ready for prime-time yet. But it just goes to show how possible the changes are that are coming. As this technology gets more mainstream, it won’t cost $9,000 and it won’t look like a high school science experiment gone awry!



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