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Toyota Hybrid Highlander EV Conversion

Post in 'The Green Room' started by semipro, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    We live rurally but our work commutes are relatively short and well within the range of an EV, about 30 miles per day. We do much at home to achieve some level of self sufficiency (solar PV, gardening, conservation, etc.) but transportation is challenge; we rely completely on petroleum fuel from far away sources to power our vehicles.

    We'd like to buy an EV (e.g. Leaf) or Extended range EV (e.g. Volt) but our situation really requires more ground clearance and 4WD for winter. The new Toyota RAV looks great but is expensive, hard to get, and only 2WD (I think).

    So, we're considering buying a used Highlander hybrid 4WD and then adding additional batteries and a charger to increase EV-only range. I've researched and kits are available and seem to work well. We may also use the added batteries for additional power backup for the house.

    One drawback to this is that federal tax incentives seem no longer available for EV conversions, only EV purchase. I hope to get some input here on the overall sanity of this plan and thoughts on other alternatives or ways to do this and something else that I may not be considering.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I looked into the numbers for our Prius and bailed. As much as I liked the potential gains they just didn't pro out for the miles we drive.
  3. scooby074

    scooby074 Feeling the Heat

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    Drove in a Camry Hybrid the other day.. NICE. Very quiet and efficient.

    My father is considering the new Lexus ES hybrid (think deluxe Camry) and the premium is only $2500 for the hybrid. 50MPG! He'll likely end up with one, he really liked it. Considering the regular Lexus has to burn premium fuel, there would be significant savings there.
  4. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    How many miles would it get driven in a year?
  5. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Good question. Since it would still be a hybrid even with the addition of batteries we'd probably use it for highway trips too; probably 25k miles.
  6. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    How about the ford escape hybrid.it comes in 4WD and has some impressive MPG ratings. I think its discontinued production on new ones but there are some late model low mile used ones around.
  7. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    This is probably not much of an answer to your question, but we have a similar situation where we must have a 4WD sometimes in the winter. Our solution has been to keep our existing Honda Pilot 4WD for when its needed in the winter, and add a regular Prius with the idea that we drive the Prius as much as possible. We find that "as much as possible" turns out to the almost all the time -- we found that even if we use the Pilot for every snowstorm and when the road is in bad shape, it does not add up to much of our yearly driving.

    I'd like to go to something more electric than our hybrid, but we need something that will handle long trips well as that's more than half our driving.

    Not that it fits your needs well, but the new Ford CMax looks interesting.

    Gary
  8. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I considered these but found that the climate control system doesn't function in dedicated electric mode whereas the Highlanders does.
  9. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Agreed on the CMax. I've been following its development. Unfortunately they're 2WD and low to the ground.

    I didn't mention, but our other vehicle is a very capable Toyota Tacoma truck with I use extensively for hauling and such. Unfortunately, I use it for commuting also.
    Although my wife and I carpool to work often we still need two vehicles on many occasions. My goal would be to use the Highlander Hybrid with additional battery capacity as our commuter and trip vehicle, relegating the Tacoma to hauling and part-time commuting use only.

    A car like the CMax of Prius would probably not do well on our driveway in in the best of weather. Our Odyssey (which we plan to replace with the Highlander) has a pretty hard time with it now.
  10. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Yes EV conversions make more sense than to expect everyone to go out and buy a completely new car. You could almost do a conversion for the amount of the rebate os incentive.
  11. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    If its anything like my formerly owned 1999 tacoma the MPG was horrendous. Not much good for hauling either.
  12. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I love it. I'd probably take it to bed with me at night if I could...joking. ;)
    Really though, I've found it very capable. Its my best tool. I use around the property as hauler, work bench, sound system, etc.
  13. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    An update.
    We bought a 2006 Highlander Hybrid (HiHy) with 100k miles last weekend. I'm helping a guy in town with a plug-in conversion on his HiHy and hope to learn what's involved including potential pitfalls.http://www.roperld.com/science/HiHyPlugIn.htm
    A photo of our new hybrid is below. It seems to be in very good condition. My wife is just happy to be driving this instead of our (soon to be sold) minivan. ;)

    Highlander.jpg

    Our plans now include using the HiHy for emergency backup power and eventually storage for a grid-tied PV system (see conceptual plan below). The HiHy is amazingly well suited for emergency backup power. The super low emission and very quiet engine will only run when the battery is discharged below a certain low level. I'll be really happy not to have to use our noisy and grossly polluting construction generator any more.

    Home Power Flow Conceptual.JPG
  14. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Toyota just came out with an electric Rav 4 but unfortunately its $50000. Would be better to just use lead acid batteries like the 2000-2001 model that sold for $30000
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's awesome semipro. Nice documentation. I think you made a good choice. The Outlander phev will not be in the US for more than a year from what I'm reading. Not sure of the cost yet, but I expect it won't be cheap. Keep us posted on how this works out.
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Kool - I'll be watching this thread. I like this kind of stuff.
  17. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Conversions are about the only way to get into this stuff without dropping 40-to 50K . Id like to convert a HD pickup truck. Razer does new ones for about 70K . Could probably do the one i already own for 10+
  18. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Hawesome Semi!
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    You can pick up a new, nicely equipped Prius, Volt or CMax/Fusion Energi PHEV for under $40K these days. I'm trying to decide whether to sink $5000 into our Prius for a homebrew PHEV or get a new car right now. The new cars are getting pretty nice.
  20. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    WHat kind of EV miles do you get for 5k? My problem BG is i cant haul much wood in a prius. Dont need a commuter car. My dream green vehicle would be a converted Escalade.Silverado.or Suberban.
    AS you can tell i like the have some sheet metal around me and the kids. Got T-boned at an intersection recently in the wifes Grand caravan by a PT cruiser and we all came out without a scratch. If we had been in a 4 door sedan my 8 Yr old in the back ,would have eaten the bumper of that cruiser. IMO
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    For the Prius, a $5K retrofit from Plug-In Supply will get 20 miles EV miles. $11K will get it 50 EV miles.

    Sorry to hear about the accident, but I'm glad to hear all are ok. That sounds like a horrific experience. The new gen vehicles have more airbags than they have wheels and gears combined. They crash test better than many minivans. I think hybrid trucks will be coming now that the technology is maturing. Or get a diesel.
  22. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Maybe better yet, a hybrid electric diesel. Then you can run in on sunshine whether from PV or biofuel.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  24. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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  25. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Any new hybrid would cost vastly more than i spend on gas for now so ill keep using the old tech till a better option comes along. Down the road i can see a converted electric HD truck (Or hummer) in my driveway. Razer puts a 200HP electric motor in that kind of truck and also in a hummer. But they (at present)use a new vehicle which puts the price way into ridiculous territory.

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