Plug-in Conversion Kits from Hymotion ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Plug-in Conversion Kits from Hymotion

Monday, April 28, 2008

Plug-in Conversion Kits from Hymotion

Over the weekend, I was contacted by a rep at the PR Firm of FAMA, who alerted me to the new hymotion website and to the article at the NY Times on the hymotion plug-in conversion kits. It's always interesting to me when someone contacts me about getting the word out on their company, since I think of this site as more of a hobby than anything else.

But, nevertheless, I try to be careful about how I treat such information. I also feel like I would have seen the article at the NY Times, anyways. Since I don't have any direct contact/monetary transcations with hymotion or A123, I feel it's alright for me to talk about them one way or another.

Anyways, enough about my scruples, back to the kits.

Hymotion can convert an existing Prius into a plug-in hybrid, doubling or even tripling your fuel economy. While that's a truly significant jump, as I've pointed out in the past, you have to make a really big jump once you get out of the 30's or 40's in the mpg range to really make a difference. As the NY Times writer points out "the A123 module is an add-on to an already-efficient car, and thus saves a substantial fraction of a number of gallons that is small to begin with."

But at $10,000 for a kit, is it really worth that much money? The article does a good job of pointing out you may void your warranty when you install this kit. That's not an insignificant thing, given how expensive the batteries are to replace.

On the plus side, it's pretty cool to really convert your car into a such a huge gas saver. If you bought your Prius to make a statement, making the conversion would certainly prove to be an even bigger one.

Another consideration, if you're worried about such things, is your ability to sell the car later on. Will a conversion kit add value, or will it be like adding a pool, so that when it comes time to sell your vehicle, it's all in the eye of the beholder? I would suspect the kit would add to the overall value to someone who's in the market for a used hybrid for fuel economy reasons, but you're not going to make up the $10,000 cost.

You may also want to discuss the conversion with your insurance company. I would guess they wouldn't have a problem with it, but it would be safer to talk it over first. If nothing else, they may think it adds value and you would want to make sure it's covered in case of an accident.

The gas savings, if you drive well, or just drive for short distances, could be huge. But I would caution you to look at the plug-in hybrid car results from ReChargeIT, the google sponsored study, before you jump in if that's your motivation. They have noticed so far, with lots of short trips, the plug-ins they are using are not getting the significant jump in mpg they expected. It seems the gas engine runs for a short time in most of their runs because the gas engine is used to power other systems. That gas use keeps their overall mileage low when they use it on short trips all the time.

If you have a plug you can use at work, that could make a huge difference.

Like hybrids in general, a tax cut or rebate would really make an impact on the market and help these sorts of businesses get off the ground in a big way. But then, in a couple of years, there are supposed to be Volts and plug-in Prius direct from the manufacturer on the road, which may make this business moot.

If you are interested in getting converted, A123 has six locations currently. They are in Boston, Seattly, D.C., Minneapolis, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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