Hybrid conversions getting nearly 80 mpg

July 21, 2008 7:11:22 PM PDT
About a year ago, CEO's in Silicon Valley challenged one another to start driving electric. On the eve of a huge conference in San Jose, high tech leaders say the plug-in movement is well underway.

Last week Tom Hayse was getting 40 miles a gallon driving his hybrid Prius. That was before his plug-in conversion and a lithium battery packed in the back.

"With the plug-in hybrid, I'm getting actually getting close to 80 miles a gallon, so I'm pretty happy with that."

Tom is one of 30 Silicon Valley CEO's and community leaders who have pledged to be part of what they call the 'plug-in revolution'.

"If only ten percent of the million or so Prius owners converted their cars like we're doing, the price of the battery conversion would come down," says Sass Somekh, Ph.D of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Right now, the plug in conversion costs about $11,000. A full charge takes five hours and gets you about 40 miles. The price of electricity is about four cents a mile. With high gas prices front and center, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group held a news conference today to encourage more people to invest in plug in technology.

"If anything, can change the dynamics of the environment from the standpoint of pollution and dependency on foreign oil, this is the program that can do it," says Rick Hill, a plug-in hybrid owner.

With current conversion prices it would take about five years or 100,000 miles to recoup your investment, but the early adopters aren't necessarily doing it for the cost savings.

"We're worried about what we're going to leave as an environment for our children. We're both very concerned about that, so I get mine in August," says Saratoga Council Member Kathleen King.

The city of San Jose is eager to help people juice up and will soon roll out a pilot project offering public places to plug in. A three day international conference focused on plug in hybrids kicks off Tuesday at the San Jose Convention Center.


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