Prius software upgrades bring 70+ mph_EV and the 100+mpg_PHEV is finally real! [FIMG=LEFT]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/Hymotion_PHEV.jpg[/FIMG]Sean Welch and Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - June 11, 2009 Few have been more excited by Prius PHEV conversion possibilities than members of CleanMPG. When we had the chance to drive Toyota’s OEM Prius-II PHEV-6/7 in Detroit two years ago, it was all right there. We drove it, experienced it, wanted it, and knew it was the future... Conversion companies (including A123System’s Hymotion) were going gangbusters supplying large format Li-Ion batteries with some SW control promising 100+ mpg. The promises were all but a guarantee yet when we finally had the chance to drive an example of the Hymotion conversion at a local MiHG meet, we were underwhelmed. The Prius retained its 34mph EV mode limit and the obnoxious warm-up reappeared anytime coolant temps fell below 159F. We could Warp Stealth at highway speeds without consuming a drop while drawing huge currents and shortened range but for an around town jaunt, the frustrating warm-up hits brought FE down to levels a std. Prius could beat. Since that time, a 52 mph hack has been developed by a CA. Hybrid repair company. It is triggered by disabling the Fuel Pump... allowing the Prius-II to maintain EV speeds up to 52 mph. This is nothing more than an exploitation of the built in "Out of Fuel" behavior. Our own Jay Groh purchased an A123Systems/Hymotion conversion and with a rheostat hack is able to force the Prius to believe the coolant temp is always “hot.” This tricks the computer system into foregoing the warm up routine and permits uninterrupted warp stealth and EV driving. He has demonstrated repeatable 200+ mpg commutes with this configuration. Now however, that magic 100+ mpg has arrived for everybody. Just a few days ago, the performance of Toyota’s own OEM PHEV was duplicated by a private company. Plug-In Conversions Corporation (PICC), founded in 2007, has done 30 conversions so far, but its business is picking up since it added a software upgrade to the package. PICC CEO Kim Adelman says, “We’ve augmented some of the systems; it’s mostly a software modification.” The result? 25mi AER and the very real possibility of not just 100mpg, but 170mpg tanks! This software modification was developed with the aid of Chicago-based Ewert Energy Systems, and it finally transforms the Prius into the type of PHEV anyone can achieve these numbers in with little effort. The kind that doesn't use the engine at all until its AER has been depleted. PICC takes out Toyota’s standard 1.3-kilowatt-hour nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, replacing it with a much-bigger 6.1 kilowatt-hour NiMH pack from its partner, Gold Peak Batteries Industries, North America. Gold Peak bought an undisclosed equity stake in Plug-In Conversions late last year. PICC’s conversion kit (adding 225 pounds) sells for $12,500, including one-day installation. The battery pack is warranted for three years. It “allows a Prius to perform much like the Chevy Volt, but for a much lower cost.” Those are fighting words for General Motors, of course. The company says it has Argonne National Laboratory treadmill data that proves that, under certain specific drive cycles, it can achieve 170.27 mpg... but PICC says real-world achievement will depend on how you drive the car. “If you drive just 40 miles, you’ll double your mileage in our car. If you go, say, 100 miles, you’ll have 75 miles as a standard Prius and the results won’t be as dramatic.” Many of us here would be able to drive such a Prius to considerably higher than 170mpg tanks, with most of our driving done in pure electric mode and no gasoline used at all. How does that used Prius listing look now? We can finally say that the future has arrived, and it looks mighty enticing from here!