Plug-In Hybrid Cars Come to Seattle

Does your garage have an electrical outlet? Later this year, you'll be able to modify your gas Prius for less than $10,000.

Published: 10-Jan-2008

Driving a Prius can be a tantalizing experience: You've got the engine warmed up, you're going 30 mph on flat ground, the motor is a nearly silent electric purr, and you watch the bars on the gas-mileage screen mount happily up to 99.9 — infinity! Then you hit a hill, have to step on the gas, and those bars plunge into the teens. You might as well be driving a Hummer.

Getting into Dave Moore's car is like stepping into a Prius owner's fantasy. You just stay in that silent sweet spot, mile after electric mile. Though his car looks like an ordinary Prius — not even any bumper stickers announce it's anything different — Moore, a Microsoft alum, has converted it into a plug-in. He averages well over 100 miles per gallon of gas — on some tanks he's gotten as high as 175 miles a gallon — thanks to the extra batteries under the hood and the wall socket in his garage where he plugs the car in each night. Within the next few years, thousands of ordinary car owners may be able to do the same.

At an additional cost of $30,000 after purchasing the Prius, Moore's conversion is not yet an option for the masses. Still, it was easy — he bought the kit and installation off the shelf from a Colorado company — and cheap compared to the $80,000 he otherwise would have put into a high-end auto. Several other well-to-do tech geeks in the Seattle area, and more than a hundred nationwide, have done the same.

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