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Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid converted by CalCars with a fuel economy of over 100 miles per gallon.

CalCars (also known as The California Cars Initiative) is a charitable, non-profit organization founded in 2002 to promote plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) as a key to addressing oil dependence and global warming both nationally and internationally.[1][2] CalCars envisions millions of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, charged by off-peak electricity from renewable energy sources, and with their internal combustion engines powered by low-carbon alternative fuels, as a way to significantly reduce greenhouse gases that come from transportation.

CalCars works with allied organizations to build buyer demand for PHEVs in the United States and promote commercial production of plug-in hybrid vehicles by major automakers.

CalCars engages in public education through its web site It displays its +100 miles per US gallon (2.4 L/100 km; 120 mpg-imp) PHEVs at public and private events, shows promotional videos, and makes presentations to different audiences, including political leaders and opinion-makers.

CalCars also promotes technology development for PHEVs by building example plug-in hybrid vehicles, and maintaining open-source documentation of technological information about its prototypes. In its technology development, CalCars is closely linked with the work of Professor Andrew A. (Andy) Frank and the Team Fate design group at the University of California, Davis.[3]



Lithium-ion battery pack, with cover removed, in CalCars' plug-in hybrid converted Toyota Prius, which was the first PHEV based on the Prius and called PRIUS+.

First Prius-PHEV

CalCars built the first PRIUS+ conversion creating the first PHEV based on the 2004 Toyota Prius.[1][2][4] This initial conversion was done with a lead-acid battery pack to prove the concept would work. The build team included Ron Gremban, Felix Kramer, Marc Geller, Kevin Lyons, Andrew Lawton. Others who helped included Tom Driscoll, Michael Geller, Richard Jesch, Les Montavon, Dan Putman, Michael Schwabe, Len Tramiel, Bob Westman, Doug Widney.

Prius+ and Kits

Prius+ (also written Prius Plus) has become the open-source standard where most plug-in hybrid kits are based.[5] Plug-in hybrid kits manufacturers includes:

Prepayment Plan

CalCars has proposed a Prepayment Plan, where buyers would pay $1,000 to reserve a plug-in car and the federal government would match each payment with $9,000, all of which would go to carmakers [14].

ICEV Mass Conversions

CalCars states that compared to crushing old vehicles, converting millions of gas-guzzling, internal combustion engine vehicles (pickup trucks, SUVs, and full-size vans -PSVs-) is a winning energy-saving strategy.[15][16]

In this way, Colorado is going to offer $6,000 credit for PHEV conversions (in addition to a federal 10% credit up to $4,000 for qualifying vehicles) .[17]

Key CalCars personnel

Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid converted by CalCars exhibited at the Maker Faire 2008, San Mateo, California.

Felix Kramer, Founder, is a marketing strategist and communicator with an entrepreneurial track record with startups; in the environmental realm, he has managed major events and run campaigns and organizations. After founding, running and selling a small Internet company, since 2001 he has volunteered his time to CalCars.[18]

Ron Gremban, Technology Development Lead for PRIUS+, moderator of the PRIUS+ [19] Plug-In Hybrid Conversion Group,[20] and electrical and software engineer involved in sales of solar energy systems, has long experience with electric cars -- he helped design and drive the Caltech entry in the transcontinental 1968 Great Electric Car Race.[21]

Gail Slocum, Senior Advisor, former Mayor, Menlo Park and Regulatory Attorney at Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Other supporting parties

CalCars is helped and advised by the entire EV community, including many members of the Electric Auto Association, Project Get Ready and the groups working to keep the remaining electric cars on the roads instead of being "recycled". Don't Crush succeeded as is apparent by Toyota's welcome decision[22] to allow the cars to be purchased by their leaseholders; this group has now become Plug In America.

Plug-in Conference

CalCars participates in the Plug-in Conference, co-sponsored by California's utilities, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Silicon Valley Leadership Group.[23]

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b Inslee, Jay; Bracken Hendricks (2007), Apollo's Fire, Island Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 36–40, ISBN 978-1-59726-175-3  See Chapter 2. Reinventing the car.
  2. ^ a b Sherry Boschert (2006), Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that will Recharge America, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, Canada, pp. 49–66, ISBN 978-0-86571-571-4   See Chapter 3. Felix Flirts with Hydrogen.
  3. ^ Dr. Andrew A. Frank, Director, advanced hybrid vehicle research center (which has built 9 plug-in hybrid proof-of-concept vehicles), Professor, University of California at Davis; see a 2003 interview in EVWorld, part 1 and part 2 and a 2006 Wall Street Journal profile.
  4. ^ The PRIUS+ was CalCars first PHEV Prius, its homepage can be found at, Photos, Commercializing Plug-In Hybrids presentation (2MB PDF)
  5. ^
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  14. ^ Progress on Prepayment Plan/Battery Worry Hype
  15. ^ Should We Crush Gas-Guzzlers? Or Convert Them to Plug In? An Analysis
  16. ^ Plug-In Endorsements: Inauguration + Senate '09 Freeedom Act
  17. ^
  18. ^ See Kramer Communications and Felix Kramer Bio, his Feb. 14, 2005 OpEd on global warming, Kyoto and Beyond, and Power, Plugs and People, his new blog>.
  19. ^
  20. ^ PRIUS+ Plug-In Hybrid Conversion Group
  21. ^ See Ron Grembans out of date bio.
  22. ^ Don't Crush saved a number of electric vehicles from being "recycled".
  23. ^


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