San Francisco Firm Adds Bigger Battery Packs to ‘Prii’
The non-profit City CarShare in San Francisco has converted ten Toyota Prius hybrid cars to plug-in operation. San Diego-based Plug-In Conversions Corp (PICC), supported by San Francisco’s Luscious Garage, used 10-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery packs yielding an electric-mode range of 35 to 40 miles.
“We had ten Prii converted to PHEV,” says City CarShare e-fleet manager Mike Harrigan.
“The car is great for car-share service because most of our trips are under 20 miles which means a fully charged PHEV will operate in EV mode most of the time.”
The hybrid system computer is modified so that the PICC Prius will operate in EV mode up to 72 mph, Harrigan says.
“I have personally driven the car to the South Bay several times with better than 100 mpg on trips of 40 to 50 miles,” he told F&F.
The mod includes a 3.3-kilowatt charger and standard J1772 connector port so that the battery pack can be charged from any standard Level 2 charging station.
The factory Prius Plug-In Hybrid has a 4.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack affording a battery-only range of about 11 miles.
Lithium Polymer for a Powerful Pack
PICC used lithium polymer batteries, specifically lithium cobalt nickel manganese oxide cells by Amita Technologies in Taiwan, an affiliate of Gold Peak Industries, for the City CarShare upfits. The mixed oxide Amita cells, designated 7799130NS, are in air-cooled 50-amp battery packs by El Segundo, Calif.-based International Rectifier (IRF), says PICC founder Kim Adelman.
The Gold Peak-IRF module is designatd SLiC SMP40, says Gold Peak regional sales manager John Todd. SLIC stands for Scalable Lithium Core. Specific energy is 150 watt-hours per kilogram.
The “S” in the Amita part number stands for safety-enhancing STOBA technology, which according to Adelman renders the battery electrolyte inert at high temperatures. STOBA, says Amita, is a nano-scale polymeric material used as a protective film. The acronym stands for Self-Terminated Oligomers with hyper-Branched Architecture.
Adelman says his firm is increasingly targeting fleets because of the high cost of the plug-in conversions: approximately $16,000 per vehicle for the City CarShare work.
San Francisco’s Luscious Garage, which specializes in hybrid repairs and customizing includes a long list of services, with prices on its website. For the PHEV modification, it states, “Plug-in conversions are a major investment.”
Persons with serious interest are invited to get in touch with Luscious founder and lead technician Carolyn Coquillette.
Among its other battery cars, City CarShare has two Nissan Leaf sedans, one Mitsubishi iMiev (F&F, Dec. 12, 2011), a range-extended Chevy Volt, and two Ford Focus EVs.
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