newbie wants to buy/modify a Prius

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by soberups, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. soberups

    soberups Junior Member

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    Hello all, this is my first post so please bear with me and forgive me for asking any dumb questions. My wife and I are interested in hybrid/renewable fuel vehicles. Currently we own an 03 Dodge Caravan that we fuel with E85 flexfuel, and an '06 VW Jetta TDI that gets 38mpg on a diet of retail b99 biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.
    We love the Jetta and its a great car for me on my 30-mile round trip commute. The Caravan has been nice also, but our kids will be out of the house soon and we really wont need that big of a vehicle much longer. My wife commutes less than 6 miles a day, round trip in town, and the Caravan with flexfuel gets horrid mileage. Diesel cars arent optimum for in town commuting, especially in the winter when it takes longer to warm up. My wife would be well served, in my opinion, if we got rid of the Caravan and got her into a Prius with a "plug in" option. My understanding of Priuses (Prii?)is that the electric motor only acts to supplement the gas engine around town, and that the battery by itself is insufficent to propel the car for more than a mile or two. I have also hear of bettery packs that can be added to increase the range and can be plugged in at night. What options do I have for buying and modifying a used Prius? How much $$$ to buy a used one and convert it? My goal is to have my wife's daily commute be 100% electric, and mine 100% biofueled. Any tips, information and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    One more question...can the Prius feasably be modified to run on E85 Flexfuel?
     
  2. Rae Vynn

    Rae Vynn Artist In Residence

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    I'm going to leap in here and suggest, rather than modify a Prius, look into an actual electric vehicle, such as the Zap or Zebra.

    Um, here, I'll find a link [rummaging about]...
    http://www.zapworld.com/

    They have cars, little cute cars, scooters... for a 6-mile commute, they really would be perfect.
    The Prius works really good for the longer commute, say 20+ miles each way, where the engine can get fully warmed up and the MPG savings kick in.

    Hey, welcome to PriusChat! :)
     
  3. morpheusx

    morpheusx Professor Chaos

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Rae Vynn @ Sep 10 2007, 06:36 PM) [snapback]510293[/snapback]</div>
    as much as i hate these xebra things, for what you are wanting to do I also think this is perfect for you.
    If it were me I would just deal with the caravan until it needs replaced and perhaps then you will have many more options.
     
  4. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    I agree with Rae. A ZAP Xebra would be perfect for your wife's short commute. I drive one myself, and only need to use my Prius for road trips and the occasional drive out of town.

    But to answer your question, I think you can get a PHEV conversion kit for the Prius for around $15,000. I think that's too expensive to justify for a low-mileage commute. Note also, that the Prius, even after conversion, will start and run the gas engine if you accelerate at a normal rate. You have to accelerate EXTREMELY gently to avoid having the gas engine start, and you have to stay below 34 mph.

    I LOVE my Xebra. It is tremendous fun to drive 100% electric for nearly all my driving.
     
  5. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Welcome, and prepare to cough up boo koo cash.

    http://www.hybrids-plus.com/

    As you can see, they are being made already, if you really really really want one. We're in the 6 figure income bracket, and a stack of cash like they get for the conversion, well, it's STILL more than I can swallow ... for now. Tinker away, if you want to try and do it your self ... but you better be an electrical engineer and a software engineer, if you plan on hacikin' into the ECU's and high voltage system.
     
  6. n8kwx

    n8kwx Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(soberups @ Sep 10 2007, 05:34 PM) [snapback]510289[/snapback]</div>
    Please do a little research on E85. I get the feeling that you are doing it for "environmental" reasons. If so you might be surprised on how "green" E85 is.

    Make your own decision, but I don't consider E85 green at all. It takes a lot of petrochemicals to fertilize and harvest corn, and a lot of water for irrigation and ethanol processing.
     
  7. markderail

    markderail I do 45 mins @ 3200 PSI

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    Assuming you have no more car payments...

    Buy a new Prius 2008, pay it off over 4-5 years.
    Then you can upgrade the Prius to PHEV, plus, it will have less than 30k miles in five years.

    The Prius won't have excellent Mpg with short trips - my case also - expect 38-43 Mpg, which is still at LEAST 1/4 that of the Caravan.

    You'll love the Prius on the weekends, which will save wear & tear on the TDI.

    Wear out the TDI with the daily commute, as the TDI is getting good MPG on the highway.

    In 4-5 years, you'll stick get some $$$ with the TDI trade-in, and you should be able to get one of the newer Diesel-Electrics or All Electrics that can do more than 25 Mph.

    Again, just one car payment. Keep in mind, these cars will last you a lifetime.

    Then you switch - you use the Prius on the highway daily commute - the wife the electric.

    Then on weekends you can use the electric just for the pure joy of it.

    IOW, a nice 5 year plan.
     
  8. soberups

    soberups Junior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(n8kwx @ Sep 10 2007, 08:09 PM) [snapback]510361[/snapback]</div>
    I agree that E85 carries a lot of hidden costs and isnt nearly as "green" as one might think. I choose to run it in my Caravan because A. I can B. its available to me and C. the company I buy it from (Sequential biofuels) also manufactures the B99 biodiesel I use in my Jetta and I want my fuel $$ to support a local company and local farmers as much as possible. That being said, I do not consider E85 to be a viable long term solution but it is at least marginally better than a 100% non renewable fossil fuel. Ideally, we would not subsidize ethanol from corn and would instead make it from hemp, switchgrass, or other more efficient crops that do not displace food.
     
  9. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    It is not feasible to convert a Prius to E85. An unknown number of parts exposed to fuel would have to be replaced. E10 however is perfectly safe.

    Don't necessarily be scared off by low fuel economy on short trips. "Low" is relative: more than 80% of the miles on Prius are in my four mile (one way) commute, and I still get 45 MPG overall. And while doing that the Prius has fewer emissions than almost any other gasoline car.
     
  10. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Rae Vynn @ Sep 10 2007, 05:36 PM) [snapback]510293[/snapback]</div>
    There's also a lot of options with an electric bicycle or scooter (I assume you've considered and discounted a regular bicycle for some relevant reason - 3 miles each way won't even get you sweaty, that's what I did today). The Xebra (sedan or pickup) is one of the very few electric vehicle options available today for a reasonable price, but you need to be a tinkerer to get it working well, from what I've read (cheap Chinese production). You would get a lot of attention in one of those.
    A Prius would work for you, with better mileage than the Caravan, but it's not the optimal commute for a Prius and you wouldn't get normal-for-a-Prius mileage. The PHEV option is cool, but still not real practical (check out hymotion.com or edrivesystems.com) or apparently even available to the average consumer.
    Smart car is also coming out with a hybrid or PHEV option about the time they're importing cars here (officially), but I don't know the whole story with that.
     
  11. PriusDiver

    PriusDiver New Member

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    Welcome, fellow Oregonian. We bought a '07 Prius just a year ago. We only have ~8000 miles on it so far, but a lot of our driving is just within Portland...so less than "ideal" commute for the MPG. Our *worst* tank average was, if i recall correctly, was ~37mpg in the winter. Winter driving has a far more negative impact than driving in the city. In the summer we average 49-52mpg, in the winter is likely 42-47mpg.

    Plugin options aren't really reasonable at this point. I'd look at the Zap or maybe the GEM stuff, depending on the speed factors. One of the local pizza chains uses the GEM for deliveries, I've seen a few personal ones cruising around lately too. You may want to check with these guys that are just starting: http://eco-motion.com/

    This is, of course, far better than the Jeep it "replaced" that got 16mpg on a really good day but 14mpg on most. I still can't get over 500 miles and only ~10 gallon fill ups. I spend far too much time at the gas station waiting for the attendant to return from filling the guzzlers around me.
     
  12. markderail

    markderail I do 45 mins @ 3200 PSI

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    Remember, 6 mile trips. Only 3/4 of the way there will gliding/coasting make the ICE turn off.

    Also on short trips, you can assume plenty of stop signs & traffic lights.

    On my way to work, some 4 miles one way, I can have as many as 20 stops!!!

    Yet my average in litres is 6.1/100km, or, 39 Mpg. Low, you think? I think otherwise. I think it's great.

    My previous car, the Toyota Sienna, on the exact same route, with a whopping 70 litres of gas would not last past a week.
    My Prius I can last sometimes 3 weeks, with just 33 litres of gas.

    My wife's Yaris, I sometimes take to compare, is slightly higher by my estimate, at around the 8/100km.
    But geez that car is tiny! I like 'em bigger.
     
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