Tinkerers fiddle with hybrids to increase efficiency
It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret — a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car’s high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.
It sounds like the “secret” to enhancing hybrid performance is increasing battery capacity and offering a way to charge up cars by plugging them into conventional outlets. Up until now car manufactures have been reluctant to add this capability and I don’t really understand why. I think most people would be more than happy to plug a simple power cord into an outlet if it means saving trips to the pump. I’d be curious to find out how much the daily battery charging would add to your electrical bill, but for people that have a short daily commute like I do I’ll bet the saving would be significant.
The California Cars Initiative has a lot more specific information and a list of resources covering hybrid improvement. I’m going to have to read through their information a lot more closely when I have a little more time.
Update: CalCars FAQ, CalCars Vehicles