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Several features distinguish the new kit from others on the market. For one thing, it’s been engineered and crash-tested to meet all applicable federal new-car safety standards. For another, the converted car meets new-car emissions standards—which not every plug-in conversion does, including earlier versions of Hymotion’s own kit.
And finally, it costs a lot less than other lithium ion kits. For example, take the conversion offered by Hybrids Plus, of Boulder, Colorado. To get a “PHEV-30,” meaning a plug-in with roughly 30 miles of pure electric range, will cost you roughly $30,000 for the 4.5-kWh replacement pack plus another 4.5-kWh auxiliary pack—albeit installed. Those packs, by the way, also use A123′s cells.
Hymotion, on the other hand, quotes 30 to 40 miles of “electrically assisted” range for a third of that: $9,995 including installation and a three year warranty. Left unspecified thus far, is the actual distance that the Hymotion kit will run in pure electric mode, without switching on the internal combustion engine. The answer, as always, lies in the car’s duty cycle: how heavily it’s loaded, how aggressively it’s driven, the mix of speeds, and even such factors as how many hills it climbs.
According to Hymotion representative Lizzie Ames, the company isn’t making executives—or indeed anyone—available to the press for comment right now. So we’ll leave it to road testers to offer real-world experience. And no doubt the highly active plug-in hybrid community will weigh in, followed—we hope—by some official testing by the likes of Argonne National Labs (who tested the exhaust emissions from a previous iteration of the Hymotion kit). Now, let the marketing begin…