Prius Plus

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Accessories & Modifications' started by Cheap!, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    I was one of the fortunate enough to be a volunteer on Calcars fourth Prius plus conversion. I spent the last two weekends in San Francisco with a number of other volunteers under the direction of Ron Gremban. In my opinion Prius plus is a great idea that has its pros and cons just like any thing else. I am still on the fence on whether or not to do a conversion on my own car and I will try to explain why, but first let me talk about a Calcars and Prius plus for the few of you who do not know what it is. The Prius plus has a range of 10 EV miles. You can stay under 34 mph for those or the system will feed all of its power as you need it at high speeds to help the ICE, so you still get to use all the power you put in the pack the night before. I like to think of it as a trans-warp-stealth-drive.

    Quote:
    “CalCars is a group of entrepreneurs, environmentalists, engineers and other citizens working to spur adoption of efficient, non-polluting automotive technologies. We're building demand among highly receptive markets to encourage auto makers to produce 100+MPG "no-sacrifices" high-performance, clean hybrid cars. We originated in response to interest in advanced automotive technologies, support from current owners of electric, natural gas, bio-fuel and hybrid vehicles, and the realization that fleets and early adopters have the buying power and resources needed to jump-start the market for better cars.â€

    Calcars is not in this to make money so everything they are working on is open to the public to view so they can do there own conversions on as many cars as they want. You see the whole point is to show auto manufactures it can be done, there is a market for it, it is better for our environment, and our country.

    http://www.calcars.org/

    Prius plus:
    The Prius plus system on the surface is remarkably simple...Genus in fact. The three main parts are;
    1. The extra battery pack
    2. The Can view
    3. And, one circuit board

    Now that is where this project starts but it get more complex that that.

    The battery pack
    The extra battery pack is simply twenty 12volt batteries linked together in series with 8 gage wire for a final voltage of 240 volts. Just think of two batteries end to end in a flash light and you get the idea. Now you are going to want to charge that pack every night so you are going to need a charger to plug into the wall and to take proper care of your batteries. And you are going to want to put in a couple of fuses to protect the car and you incase of a problem. Then you will want to be able to shut them on and off with a couple of oversized relay switches. A hall sensor attached to this system can give you valuable information of how much power the pack is sending to the Prius’ original battery.

    From end to end the pack goes something like this;
    negative end – relay – shunt – hall sensor – fuse - (batteries 1-20) – fuse – relay – positive end

    The Canview
    The Canview comes pre-made with cables and is a very easy install. It has five wires One cable goes from the computer connection under the dash on the driver’s side to the Canview box. Another goes to a second screen normally placed on your dash. (04-05 Prius can us the existing MFD but I don’t know why you would want to when you could have one screen for the normal Prius features and another for the Canview information.) One wire goes to EV mode. One wire goes to the control board. The last cable is for power. Very simple!

    Circuit board
    Last is the circuit board. It listens to the system and tells it what to do.
    Sub parts of this board are;
    1. Power management
    2. Battery cooling
    3. Battery Heating
    4. System diagnostics
    5. The board itself

    Power management
    You want the system to know when to send power to the original battery and when it should take power from the regenerative braking system. It should also know when to shut the pack completely down such as when it is empty or when it is charging. Also, you want to tell the Prius battery computer that it has a high State of Charge so it keeps trying to use up the power.

    Battery cooling
    The Prius plus uses three fans to cool down the batteries. That warm air has to go somewhere so it now goes out the two 2†holes under where the spare use to be. Those fans need to go on and off as needed by the second pack.

    Battery Heating
    This is no joke. The pack can be heated as needed by three Wal-Mart heating pads. There is no need for high temp heat so low power heating pads is all you use. Now you will want those to go on and off by them selves as needed too.

    System diagnostics
    Let’s say you blow a fuse or something is wrong somewhere how would you know? A ribbon cable is sent to the dash from the circuit board to show lights for what systems are working when.

    The circuit board
    It is a small board about 8†by 5†is my guess. I’ve held it but I did not measure it. So you now know what it controls, but it still needs power to run so that is another cable. It talks to the Canview to so yet another cable. It needs cables to the fans, the on off of the heating pads, and the charger too.

    Is it worth it? That depends entirely on you. This is the why I am on the fence on this still.

    Canview about $700.00
    Batteries about $900.00
    Charger about $1000.00
    Various other parts about $500.00 or so

    Knowing your using less foreign oil – Priceless :D

    That’s right you can't put a price tag on what you are doing to improve the environment, stop global warming, the cool factor, or giving the foreign oil industry the finger.

    And here is the rub. <_<
    You can put a price tag on the cash leaving your wallet. Here is how I figure it.

    I’m getting 50 miles to the gallon right now. I am paying $2.00 a gallon right now.
    $2.00/50=.04
    So that cost is 4 cents per mile.
    The pack should last 1.5 years so that a maximum would be 10 miles a day for 547 (Let’s call it 550) days.
    10*550=5500 EV miles
    5500 times .04 = $220.00 of saved fuel cost.

    It is important to note here that you may still need to pay for the electricity going to recharge your pack every night but it could come from hydro, wind, or solar too.

    A new lead acid pack cost right now about $900.00 so that is
    $900.00 for batteries - $220.00 saved fuel cost = a loss of $680.00 every 18 months before you count electricity cost.

    That works out to be about $37.00 extra per month then what you spend now to fuel your Prius. Is it worth it? As you see that is up to you.

    As for me…It just might be. ;)

    We are so close to break even and that is the point. If auto manufactures would put packs like these in the cars to begin with the cost on batteries would come way down as factories come on line to meet demand? Also, new Nano-Li-Ion’s prices would drop and the overall life of the pack could go up as high as 10 years again helping to make this fanatically desirable.

    The biggest limitation the Prius has mechanically is the fact that the drive system has to have both sides spinning to reach speeds over 34 miles and hour. What a new Prius will need will be a drive system that is more all EV at higher speeds like 70 MPH then after the second pack is used up go back to unlimited hybrid range like it has now.

    BTW: The fourth Prius Plus was driven via it’s new battery pack Sunday night. B)
     
  2. Pinto Girl

    Pinto Girl New Member

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    Twenty 12v batteries...? Woah.

    I saw one of these cars at Moscone Center last week...the first thing I did was to kneel (to take a look at the springs) and see if it had been lowered in the back (it hadn't).

    Do you know what this modification does to the F/R weight distribution and handling of the Prius? I wonder also if the VSC is able to adjust to this significant change in the front/rear weight bias...?

    How much weight does this add to the car, all up and ready to drive?

    I haven't seen anything saying that the suspension has been beefed up to handle the extra weight. How much carring capacity remains after this mod is completed? The Prius only offers about 880 lbs. to begin with, doesn't it?

    I think it's a really cool idea, but have some concerns about the implementation.
     
  3. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    Others have done a very similar mod using NiMH batteries designed for RC cars and such. Much less weight, much less cargo space lost, equal or greater capacity for charge. AFAIK, however, none of those folks had a CAN-View to integrate into and had to use other instrumentation. Also, no integrated cooling (or heating) system was employed.

    My other concerns w/ the 12v lead acid is the dangers of off gassing and the danger in the event of a rear-end collision....or even a front end collision that could send the 12v batteries flying.

    Not trying to talk down the concept, just the implementation.
     
  4. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Pinto Girl @ Nov 14 2006, 03:27 PM) [snapback]349024[/snapback]</div>
    Yes, I know but they are not the size or weight of car batteries. I think the weight is below 200 LBS. I would want higher springs if I do the conversion. All of this weight is behind the rear wheel and I thought it should be at least in front of it for traction, but this is the fourth one they have done.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(efusco @ Nov 14 2006, 03:33 PM) [snapback]349029[/snapback]</div>
    What is AFAIK?

    If you could do this without canview you would save some I would be interested in that as well. Calcars goal is to stop global warming. They use these because it is the least expensive pack you can use. These are sealed batteries with no off gassing. I can try to get the exactly battery so we can look up the specs. As far as an accident, yes anything is possible. That is why there is a mounted metal cage bolted down in the back. It sits about the same level as the standard floor. You can cover it with the big mat back there and you would no know it was there.

    I think the thing to remember is that it can be done. One person may use one battery pack over another, or you may chose to find other locations for the batteries all together. There is risk with a conversion like this even if you pay $12,000 to get it done for you.
    Again I am on the fence on this one. One reason is I don’t have several grand to sink in my car right now. I can tell you I am having a lot more fun with this car then any other car I have owned.
     
  5. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    AFAIK = As Far As I Know

    These guys were pretty tech oriented and did use other equipment to monitor their batteries. The bought a device so they could see if the batteries were wearing out. The drove as usual, some w/ EV button some w/o. This stuff was very experimental and at least one of the guys suffered an early demise of the main HV battery...but there were other factors (high miles, unusual route requiring a long daily trip over a high mountain pass).

    I'll just tell you that these guys (the NiMH guys) gave the CalCars folks much of the info they used to get started. A couple of them are still on their original batteries (NiMH) and are seeing significant improvement in MPG.
     
  6. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(efusco @ Nov 14 2006, 06:13 PM) [snapback]349170[/snapback]</div>
    Yes I do think you would see a better return on your investment for MIMH, but I have not done the math on that yet. If I could get with in $250 bucks of break even, I be the first to start fishing around auto yards for cheap parts. :D
     
  7. Pinto Girl

    Pinto Girl New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Nov 14 2006, 07:31 PM) [snapback]349183[/snapback]</div>
    You know, it's funny...a little while ago I was pondering how I might get a few more horsepower from the ICE...now something like this is actually making much more sense.

    Have been considering buying a used/salvaged Prius as a test bed...hmmmmmmmm....

    As I said, I didn't mean to bag on the idea, I was just worried about messing with the delicate balance of attributes that seems to make the Prius so cool.

    But then, at one point I actually contemplated removing the whole drivetrain and installing a smallblock Ford V8.
    Just a warning to consider the source...
     
  8. chogan

    chogan New Member

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    Cheap!, you're a gentleman and a scholar. I envy your daring.

    I've been looking at this the other way around, keeping tabs on the current or soon-to-be-available commercial Prius PHEV mods.

    For what it's worth, even thought the batteries you used are short-lived, the per-mile cost of the batteries (ignoring gas savings) in your setup is actually less than the cost implied by the minimum guarantee that Hymotion is offering for their 30 mile PHEV Prius mod. You've got $900/5500 miles, which I make out as about $0.16/mile. Hymotion offers a 2 year warranty on their 30 mile pack, which would roughly speaking be $4500/(30*(2*365)) = $0.21/mile.

    So the cost of the batteries, per electric mile, in your setup, is in fact cheaper than what Hymotion is willing to guarantee. Though of course Hymotion's batteries ought to last longer than the minimum.

    An interesting question is, at what mileage does the Hymotion setup become cheaper than yours, per electric mile? In other words, How long does the original Hymotion's battery have to last to yield the same total cost per mile as your setup with multiple battery replacements? I get 38,500 miles, or roughly 1300 full (30 mile) charge cycles on the Hymotion battery, or about 3.5 years of using that 30 mile pack fully every day. That's possible, I guess, but far from proven. In so far as I understand these things, that's a pretty long lifetime for most current-generation lithium ion batteries, but possible with leading-edge technology.

    What I'm trying to say is that your setup may not only have lower intial costs, but ignoring all other factors (e.g, recycling 200 lbs of batteries every so often), it might actually be cheaper, in the long run, than the setups being offered commercially today.

    So you've set an interesting benchmark: when will a commercially available PHEV Prius modification be available, where the cost per mile, based on the warranty period only, is lower than what you've already done? In other words, when will someone guarantee me a cheaper plug-in Prius electric mile than you've just created?

    Please let us know how your mod is working out.
     
  9. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(chogan @ Nov 15 2006, 07:41 AM) [snapback]349409[/snapback]</div>
    First of all, Thank you.

    Secondly, it is not my car that was converted.

    Thirdly, it is not my design.

    Fourthly, I'll try to answer what I can of your questions.

    This conversion method is for the do it yourselfer. How to do a conversion like this is online via Calcars.org . I flew two weekends in a row to San Francisco to learn more about the conversion and to see what is involved. Let me tell you if you don't know what you are doing, like me, it was a lot of man hours to do the conversion. However, now that I know more I know I could do the conversion in a much shorter amount of time. You see Ron Gremban who oversaw this conversion was up against a deadline of having this car converted for an auto show that starts this upcoming weekend. He had to put a call out for volunteers and most of us had no idea what we would be doing or how any of the parts went together. In fact the first day we started parts were still on the way. Ron had to give each of us a part of the project to build. Some of the volunteers don't even own a Prius. However Ron interviewed us and matched our skill sets to the parts of the project we could do. Two volunteers went with Tom to build the battery frame. One installed the exhaust vents. Two others made wire harnesses from scratch. Two more stuffed and soldered the circuit board. I and another volunteer worked on making all of new battery pack connections. And that was just day one.

    The second day I worked on the heating controls and a few other things. Every time Ron would put us to work we would undoubtedly have to ask him questions and at times we had his head spinning I'm sure.

    The third day (the following weekend) I installed the CAN View and build up the Amp hour meter including several needed cables. To me there seems to be just so many cables needed, but that is how you get everything to talk to everything else, and no one makes a cable kit yet.

    Ok I calculated Fuel savings and you calculated Battery cost per mile. Yes it is probable that Li-ions cost so much right now that the sealed lead acid ones have a lower over all cost.

    So it is cheaper to do it yourself right now. If the auto makers ever figure out that a car like a plug-in Prius is wanted, they may start building them and in turn more Li-ion factories would be build lowering their price.

    Well let's figure it this way using your numbers they need to beat .16/mile.
    Solve for X:
    4500=(.16) * (30miles/day) * (X)
    or
    4500/[(.16) * (30miles/day)=X
    So, brake even is 937.5 days. (Just over two years six months)

    Another thing is if you DIY and screw something up on your own car or the additional pack you are the one who would have to pay the warranty claim. What I can tell you is I have not heard of anyone messing the Prius up yet.

    If I could find someone to grant me the money to do this conversion I would even knowing I would have to buy the second pack. You see with this DIY conversion you can pick a different pack as prices on new batteries come down.
     
  10. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    Original Prius Plus conversion pack.
    [attachmentid=5702]
     

    Attached Files:

  11. markderail

    markderail I do 45 mins @ 3200 PSI

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    After reading all these posts, very informative...yet are additional batteries the best way to go? What about just changing the existing ones for better ones (a NiMH to LiOn switch), so same volume, less weight, more amps?

    And those batteries will have a very negative impact and the end of their life. The newer/better batteries aren't to market yet, so what could be done now and the next five years.

    Assuming a 2,500 USD budget, what are other ways to make the Prius get better mileage, use less fuel, more Env Friendly? Wouldn't improving on the ICE be the logical choice?
    • A small gas rotary engine generator (tiny 4 stroke) that is over 90% fuel efficient making electricy. You could tap into the current gas line. I read here on PriusChat, that GM wants to bring back the EV-1 with such a concept. Thus the generator already exists. It could supply amps "on the fly" for EV mode.
    • Another idea would be a 10 gal bladder in the back filled with Ethanol - bio alcohool. A system to suck droplets from the pure Ethanol and inject with the regular fuel mix. Bigger bang, cleaner bang.
    • Same idea as the Ethanol, but use Natural Gas. When the NG tank is empty, after perhaps 50 miles, switch to petrol. Or even Propane - not much different. Cheapest mod over the rest?
    My father-in-law had a Dodge Aries with a NG cylinder in his trunk in the late 80's. Even back then, he says he saved at least 1k$ a year as he drove daily to work 60 miles, paid for itself within two years. He could fill with either NG or Propane.

    I left out the costlier mods, like bio-diesel (requires another ICE or a <strike>H</strike>bummer) and Hydrogen.

    So to me a Prius Plus would be a better one, irregardles of the technology used, and more-or-less pays for the mod itself in a 5 year frame assuming a 12,000 per year usage minimum.
    Of course heavy mileage users benefit's quicker.
     
  12. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Mark Derail @ Nov 19 2006, 11:23 AM) [snapback]351719[/snapback]</div>
    The problem with this is the Prius battery ECU (Computer). Right now it is set for NIMH and just putting in LI-Ion won’t do as the battery won’t send the right charge to the pack and won’t let it discharge to the right levels for a Li-Ion pack.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Mark Derail @ Nov 19 2006, 11:23 AM) [snapback]351719[/snapback]</div>
    Agreed, however the whole point of the modification is to show auto manufactures it can be done, and we want it done. “If you make it, they will buy it,†so to speak. On the horizon is “Nanosafe†batteries. The will be the way to go and this conversion will let you replace this Lead acid pack to a “Nanosfe†pack when ever the production cost come down. That is after they even go into full scale production. Getting auto manufactures attention on this matter now will insure these batteries go into full scale production, and get us off most of our foreign oil.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Mark Derail @ Nov 19 2006, 11:23 AM) [snapback]351719[/snapback]</div>


    • Could be but I believe the problem with the synergy drive is more detrimental to the whole car. Not many people can drive around at less then 34 mph. Also, unfortunately people are not willing to give up there ICE all together. Some are, like me, but not many. So do we really want to have put the general population off by getting rid of the ICE or telling them the ICE is only to turn a generator, or do we want to make them feel secure with a ICE and show them that they can just use EV only all week long after they get it home. I really think make more change to our environment and our countries security if we can just take the general population one step at a time.

      <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Mark Derail @ Nov 19 2006, 11:23 AM) [snapback]351719[/snapback]</div>
      I don’t know about you, but I am tired of paying for stuff all the time. Let’s just go solar and wind and stop paying a company for products we don’t need anymore! :D

      <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Mark Derail @ Nov 19 2006, 11:23 AM) [snapback]351719[/snapback]</div>
    See above.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Mark Derail @ Nov 19 2006, 11:23 AM) [snapback]351719[/snapback]</div>
    See above.
     
  13. misterno

    misterno New Member

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    Hello guys,

    I am new to this Prius thing, as a matter of fact I do not even own one. But I have been thinking to get one since I am running some numbers and amazingly Prius+ happens to be cheaper though I have some questions.

    1) Did Mr Cheap consider the alternative batteries like NIMH and Li Ion? If so, how were they in terms of cost per mile? I am asking because I was not able to find any data on this matter.

    2) When comparing the cost of ICE to Prius+, I see that we are taking electricity cost per mile and battery cost per mile into account. But how about the cost per mile on the electric motor? Does any one know the life expectancy of electric motors in Prius+? Or any other electric motors in the market?

    3) I read in another Prius forum that the reason batteries in Prius never had a problem and they never failed till today (the highest mileage I heard is 180K miles for now) is because of the charge setup. The batteries are never allowed to discharge fully or charged fully. So does the same rule apply to other batteries? Is this some kind of universal rule to get the most out of the batteries?

    4) In Prius, the electric motors does not kick in before 34mph Can this easily be lifted by the touch of a button or does it take lots of labour to say increasing to 60mph (which most people would ask for)
    Or is this because batteries can not support more than 34mph?

    I will really appreciate if anyone can answer these questions.
     
  14. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    1) Did Mr Cheap consider the alternative batteries like NIMH and Li Ion? If so, how were they in terms of cost per mile? I am asking because I was not able to find any data on this matter.

    No, I did not you have to weigh expected battery life and cost. Please share any number you come up with.

    2) When comparing the cost of ICE to Prius+, I see that we are taking electricity cost per mile and battery cost per mile into account. But how about the cost per mile on the electric motor? Does any one know the life expectancy of electric motors in Prius+? Or any other electric motors in the market?

    The motor is over rated for what it does. I don't think you have to worry about it. They car might rust apart first.

    3) I read in another Prius forum that the reason batteries in Prius never had a problem and they never failed till today (the highest mileage I heard is 180K miles for now) is because of the charge setup. The batteries are never allowed to discharge fully or charged fully. So does the same rule apply to other batteries? Is this some kind of universal rule to get the most out of the batteries?

    It is true the Prius main battery last so long because it is babied. I would not want to change that. If you baby other batteries will they last too? Yes for the most part, however batteries are considered no good once they can only hold 80% of their original charge. You could just keep on using them. For how long I have no idea. It is like solar panels they say they last 20 years but there are some still in service from the 60's. Google “Nanosafe Battery†This is the one we are all waiting for to go into production.

    4) In Prius, the electric motors does not kick in before 34mph Can this easily be lifted by the touch of a button or does it take lots of labor to say increasing to 60mph (which most people would ask for)
    Or is this because batteries can not support more than 34mph?

    The problem is with the synergy drive or the mechanical structure of the Prius power split device. See this link.
    Power split device
     
  15. elecblue

    elecblue New Member

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    Ok folks, here's the rub -

    The CalCars PHEV conversion which was 10 days ago was car #21. My conversion (a separate one) was car #20, we finished it literally hours before the CalCars folks did.

    My conversion is a different kit which uses a relay box with dual main contactors - only one side can go on at a time. One is for the charger - making sure the charging is happening to the extra pack and not the NiMH pack, and the other is for the DC-DC converter (which is also the charger).

    Running in EV-only mode really cranks up the DC-DC converter (but it's only capable of moving up to 40amps). Internal cooling fans humming away!

    Gas mileage is 58.5mpg (low) to over 90mpg (high) which I got on a short local trip (10miles). Some glitches to work out (like clearing error codes via the CAN-View each time I start the car) but overall does a fine job.

    Not cost efficient, but I'll pay to leave a lower carbon print on planet earth. Plus, another 3 marines bought the farm just yesterday, so I prefer to save our military lives.

    Weight - about 280 lbs and the back does sink down a bit but plenty of spring left.

    Charger takes either 110 or 220V. I plug in wherever I go - just like the old EV days!

    Please email me privately for other details if needed.

    [email protected]
     
  16. kenmce

    kenmce High Voltage Member

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    Cheap!:
    Agreed, however the whole point of the modification is to show auto manufactures it can be done, and we want it done. “If you make it, they will buy it,†so to speak.

    I don't quite get this. The American manufacturers don't want to do this. The practicality does not concern them, it just doesn't match up with their corporate DNA. They just don't want to. They will do it as late as possible and as little as possible. The Japanese manufacturers are busy doing it already. If you leave out the manufacturers, are there not other good reasons?
     
  17. ken1784

    ken1784 SuperMID designer

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Nov 16 2006, 05:28 AM) [snapback]349707[/snapback]</div>
    The battery cost is very improtant.
    I've heard that the battery life of the first Prius+ was only 200 charges for 2,000 mile drive.
    They paid $700 for the battery, so the battery cost was $0.35/mile which was very high.

    [email protected]
     
  18. Roly

    Roly New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(elecblue @ Nov 23 2006, 08:19 AM) [snapback]353426[/snapback]</div>
    Do you want to share more info on the equipment installed, I'm looking for something alike.
     
  19. Cheap!

    Cheap! New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(ken1784 @ Nov 23 2006, 10:07 PM) [snapback]353607[/snapback]</div>
    Yes the cost per mile is high, but the cost of oil dependency is higher.
     
  20. ken1784

    ken1784 SuperMID designer

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Cheap! @ Nov 30 2006, 09:27 AM) [snapback]355456[/snapback]</div>
    I don't know about politics, but the battery cost was $0.35/mile and the gasoline cost is $0.10/mile when the price is $3/gallon and driving at 30 mpg.

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