From Prius to Superprius

Thursday, July 16, 2009

From an article by Karen Rivedal in the Wisconsin State Journal:

For the past 30 years, Trish Moran has been convinced the U.S. must face two big challenges related to energy and natural resources — make better batteries and figure out how to desalinate sea water on a large scale.

She hasn’t made much progress on un-salting the oceans. But the battery part is done.

“I finally put my money where my mouth is,” said Moran, a business owner from a suburb of Chicago, in an interview this week.

Late last month, Moran became one of the first people in the Midwest to get her Toyota Prius made super-fuel efficient with a new plug-in module installed by Smart Motors in Madison. The upgrade can boost the hybrid’s performance to around 100 miles per gallon, or about double what the gas-electric hybrid already does.

The conversion kit adds a second high-voltage battery that can be charged from any standard 120-volt outlet using an extension cord plugged into the back of the car. A full charge takes about five hours and provides 30 to 40 miles of all-electric driving capacity.

“That’s going to take care of most people’s work commutes,” Smart Motors hybrid sales specialist John Dolan said. “At night, they can just plug it in inside their garage and charge it up, and by morning you’re ready to go again.”