At the EVS23 show in Anaheim last week, I finally got a chance to talk to Kim Adelman, president of Plug-in Conversions (I missed him at the Santa Monica Alt Car Expo). Adelman offers at-home (or at-work) conversions of your own Prius by adding Nilar battery packs. Plug-in Conversions offers three different battery options - either 2, 4 or 7 kWh. The small system costs around $8,000 and bumps up the mpge rating to around 50-60 with an all-electric range of around eight miles. The 4 kWh system costs $12,500 and gives 16 miles of EV range (although Adelman was able to squeeze 19+ miles from this pack recently). The large 7 kWh pack goes for $15,000 and will move your Prius for 24 miles on electrons and pushes your mpge to 100+.
Adelman is limited by some of the restrictions that Toyota built into the Prius, such as the 34 mph speed limit when running solely on battery power. Should Toyota come out with their own PHEV Prius (which, in current testing, goes 62 mph on batteries), Adelman said, they will give Plug-in Conversions an even more fun vehicle to work with.
The additional packs Adelman uses are Nilar nickel-metal hydride packs. NiMH batteries are the ignored child of the current battery boom - everyone is looking towards lithium technology - but Nilar's Kurt Jensen says their time is not over yet. Jensen was also at the booth and spoke with AutoblogGreen about the Nilar battery technology and some of the patent issues that automakers face when working with nickel-metal hydride batteries. He didn't get into great detail about the intellectual property issues that cover this technology, unfortunately. You can hear Adelman talk about the car here (8 min, 5 MB) and Jensen talk about the batteries here (10 min, 7 MB).