A Plug In Hybrid Conversion: Step By Step

By Bill Moore

Posted: 11 Oct 2009

Having now observed two Plug In Conversions Corporation Prius conversions, including our own car this week, I have a pretty good idea of what the process involves in a very general sense. Exactly which wires go where, I'll leave to PICC's chief technician, Mike Dibble.

There are, of course, some pre-requisites: an engine hoist, preferably a car lift, various hand tools, electric meter and several assistants to help position the battery pack. In the case of our car, Nebraska license plate LIVN GRN, Omaha's Metropolitan Community College (MCC) Auto Tech Training shop provided most of the above. PICC brought the rest. Allow for two days: one for the actual install, the second for testing.

So, with the caveat that I don't advise you trying this without knowledgeable supervision, here is a basic step-by-step guide to the process as I observed it.

It should be noted that because the battery pack is located within the car's crumple zone, any rear-end collision, depending on its severity, will likely damage the pack. Make sure you maintain adequate spacing between the cars in front and behind you to reduce the risk of collision. PICC is planning to conduct crash safety tests as its business develops to insure the pack does not enter the passenger area. Also, because the modules don't use any liquid electrolyte, there is little risk of chemical burns. PICC deliberately engineered its kit to make maximum use of Toyota's safety system, so in the event of a crash, the battery will automatically disconnect, as it does in the stock Prius.

For a personal account of how the conversion of our own Prius went this past week, be sure to read The Conversion of LIVN GRN.

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