by Joe Fryer, kare11.com, August 20, 2010
MINNEAPOLIS — A new Minneapolis business is converting hybrid vehicles, allowing drivers to plug in their cars and maximize their gas mileage.
The company is called ReGo. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak swung by Thursday to pick up his new city car, a Toyota Prius that was converted into a plug-in vehicle.
“It’s a huge change,”Rybak said. “And you know what? It is so simple.”
ReGo, located at 3920 Nicollet Ave. in south Minneapolis, installs batteries and other electronic equipment in the rear of hybrids. The installations take about 48 hours and cost $5,000.
When the cars are fully charged, after being plugged in for four to six hours, they can get up to 85 miles a gallon during the first 40 miles. After that, the car still runs like a regular hybrid.
“This allows the vehicle to basically use its electric motor more, and the great part is the gas engine is used a lot less,” said Alex Danovitch, ReGo co-owner.
Jukka Kukkonen, an expert on electric cars, said the technology is constantly improving, which means the cars will gradually become more mainstream.
The great advancement, he said, is battery technology. Some electric carmakers, like Nissan, have put eight-year/100,000-mile warranties on their battery packs, which shows they really believe in the technology.
“When these technologies go into mass production, we’ll also see the prices coming down,” he said.
This is Rybak’s second plug-in conversion. He converted his first Prius two years ago and got 70 miles a gallon. That conversion cost about $11,000, so the price has dropped drastically in the past two years.
For now, ReGo is only converting Priuses, but it plans to expand to other hybrids in the near future.
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