We'll start with the numbers: $1,995 will get you a 2 kWh plug-in battery pack for your second-generation Toyota Prius; $2,995 will get you a 4 kWh pack (the installation feel and the $95 delivery charge are extra). For your two or three grand, you can reach "the holy grail of achieving 100 mpg."
These are the promises of Enginer, a collaborative venture between Automation Tech Inc. from the U.S. and the Australian-Chinese-owned company Worldlink-China Co. Ltd., in a new press release. If true, then Enginer has a serious competitor to the Hymotion Prius PHEV conversion kit (which costs around $9,999 for a 5 kWh pack). We're not ready to sign up for one of these Enginer packs quite yet, though, even if they are participating in the Automotive X Prize. We'd like to see more numbers, something a little more detailed than Automation Tech's president Jack Chen saying, "With this system, we can improve the Prius' fuel efficiency by 40-100%." We like the idea of a cheaper hybrid conversion kit, especially one that the company says could be used in other vehicles like the Ford Escape, but we've heard all sorts of big promises before.
We're also skeptical of this line in the Enginer press release (read the whole thing after the jump):
Last time we looked, the government wasn't big into promoting plug-in conversions. We're not sure where this $2,500 number comes from.If the Enginer system is installed in a new vehicle at a dealer, it will also qualify for the tax credit under the recently passed Recovery Act. The credit that applies gives the purchaser a $2500 tax credit from the federal government.
Michigan Firm Develops Lower-Price Plug-in Prius Kit
SYNOPSIS: 2 kWh version costs $1995 and a 4 kWh version sells for $2995
Troy, MI – While the big auto companies are still trying to bring to market the high mileage vehicles that the public is clamoring for, a small Troy company, joint ventured with Australian-Chinese owned manufacturers has already achieved the holy grail of achieving 100 mpg. The highly touted GM Volt, which is expected to come to market in 2010, has a rumored cost of $40,000 and will reportedly go 40 miles before needing to have its batteries recharged. Enginer has created the best of both worlds by using a hybrid and adding advanced battery technology, increasing range dramatically. The battery conversion from Enginer comes in two versions, a 2 kWh version which costs $1995 and a 4 kWh version which sells for $2995. At these prices the payback period is about two to five years. Competitors' units cost from $12-14,000.
Jack Chen, President of Automation Tech, Enginer's exclusive distributor in North America says, "With this system, we can improve the Prius' fuel efficiency by 40-100%." Chen says the system can also be used in other hybrid vehicles and the company is seeking to work with the big auto companies to have their technology installed at the factory, instead of as an add-on. Automation Tech is also developing other energy saving technologies which offer exceptional opportunities for investors in these times of rising costs for energy and high demand for innovative solutions.
According to the Enginer web site the system is much simpler and less intrusive than competitors' products. it doesn't alter original vehicle's control algorithm and design specification and can be installed by a professional installer in 2-4 hours and by a do-it-yourselfer in about 8 hours. With many experts saying that we have reached peak oil, oil prices will continue to rise, and having a vehicle that can get up to 100 mpg will help Americans afford to keep driving, even with high gas prices. There are already over 1 million hybrids on the road and by using plug-in conversion kits, such as those offered by Automation Tech, Inc, consumers can start realizing the benefits of a plug-in hybrid without waiting for the major manufacturers to bring their products to market.
If the Enginer system is installed in a new vehicle at a dealer, it will also qualify for the tax credit under the recently passed Recovery Act. The credit that applies gives the purchaser a $2500 tax credit from the federal government.
Enginer is also looking for auto dealers to serve as installation locations and business partners to help in either product distribution or speeding their overall expansion.