You may presume, what with the technology being so new, that there isn’t much opportunity to supe up your green tech hybrid car. California company 3Prong has a different idea–and a new system to mod your Prius.
Note that by “mod” and “supe up” we mean improve it in a disappointingly eco-friendly way, at least from a gearhead point of view. What the company’s actually offering is an aftermarket battery pack that improves the performance of your out-of-box car. It’s compatible with the Ford Escape and all Priuses from 2001 to 2010–and it’s the first commercially available adaptation for the first-gen Prius.
Basically it’s a plug-in hybrid solution with some neat high-tech components that give it a performance edge. There’s a DC:DC boost converter that grabs power from the lithium cells, so fewer cells are required to power the car’s traction motor up. And since cells are the most expensive bit of a hybrid power train, that’s going to save you some money. Or, if you choose to go with more cells in the same space, you can improve the driving range.
According to 3Prong, their 4kWh pack provides double the assisted driving range of a PHEV for “less than half the cost of other lithium battery plug in kits.” But you’re still out $4,500, versus $3,500 for the smaller 2kWh unit. The company’s co-founder, Paul Guzyk, notes that the aim is to “encourage vehicle owners to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to reduce their greenhouse gasses and tailpipe emissions while replacing their consumption of imported oil with locally produced electrical power.” Sure, it sounds like you could earn a lot of eco-cred with this product–but you’d have to drive a lot of electrical miles to save enough gas dollars to pay for the $4,000 device in the first place.
More importantly, 3Prong is heralding is a new industry that we’re all going to see a lot of in the next decade. Electric vehicle (EV) batteries have a useful lifespan, not unlike the small batteries we slip into our TV remotes and portable gadgets. As aftermarket battery companies like 3Prong compete to power the EVs we’ll all eventually be driving, we can expect to see weird rehashes of those old Energizer battery adds–aimed at our real cars, rather than our kids’ toy ones.