Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

By Bill Moore

Posted: 29 Oct 2009

If you look closely at the above photo, you'll notice there's a plastic plug cover on the left rear bumper of this 2008 Toyota Prius. The car belongs to Australian energy distributor SP AusNet. It is one of several cars recently converted to a plug-in hybrid through the auspices of CSIRO, Australia's equivalent to America's national energy lab system.

Several news organizations including Science Daily, iTWire, The Green Car Web Site and Energy Efficiency News picked up the story, as did India Business Blog and AZoCleanTech. Only one of them -- iTWire -- noted that the car was modified "using a US-developed conversion kit..." None of them mentioned whose kit they used, and most left the impression that it was CSIRO that actually developed and installed the kit. Even CSIRO's own press release makes no mention of the fact the kit was acquired outside of Australia.

If you read the specs on the car's kit, they also sound suspiciously familar: 30Ah NiMH battery (the actual precise number is 26.6 -- I measured it this morning, as I do every morning) "capable of holding a 6kWh charge." There is, to my knowledge, only one U.S.-based manufacturer of plug-in Prius kits that uses NiMH and that's the same people who put the kit in our car: Plug-In Conversions Corporation of San Diego.

When I saw this story, I emailed the link to Kim Adelman and asked if this was, in fact, one of the cars he and Mike Dibble had converted in Australia late this summer. He relied last night, with obvious disappointment, that, yes, he and Mike had supplied the conversion kits for the CSIRO cars and spent two weeks in Melbourne doing the installations. Yet, not one report mentions PICC's name or role in this important project.

But this isn't the first time PICC hasn't gotten credit for its critical role in another demonstration project. When the "Algaeus" Plug-in Prius set off from Santa Monica bound for Washington, D.C., it was able to do so because PICC had bent over backwards to move it up in its conversion schedule. Yet no reference is made to Plug-In Conversions Corporation in any press releases and only Jim Motavalli, acknowledges the firm's role in the project in Daily Green.

Being the proud owner of a PICC-converted Prius (my wife again maxed out the Prius mileage display at 99.9 mpg yesterday in her commute to Omaha Steaks, and when I drove her to work this week -- the only way I get to drive the car -- I got 198 mpg) I feel compelled to set the record straight. But I have also urged Kim to put decals on his kits -- at the moment, nothing tells you who made the kit -- and on the car when he's done; maybe something like "Ask Me How My Car Get's 100+ MPG : Powered By Plug-In Conversion Corporation" would do the job.

If you own a HyMotion plug-in kit, it clearly tells you who made it. PICC can do a better job in telling people who made the kit, and I am sure they will in time; after all, they've been focused on improving their technology not their marketing image.

At the moment, I believe Kim is in Japan converting more Priuses and I hope that at least there, he'll get some credit where credit is due.

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