Prius Question - switching engines

The answer to this one is probably on PriusChat somewhere, but I am having so much fun here, reading your posts (you can tell I’m a newbie)…

Does my new Prius have a way of switching from one engine to another? For example, if I ran out of gas, could I use the electric motor to get by and vice versa?

The battery is the limitation…They sell kits which allows you to switch to pure electric power for a very short period of time and limited speed (25 mph). There IS a plug-in conversion, but it requires a trunk full of golf-cart batteries and their weight seriously degrades the overall performance of the car…

A company in California, A+ Japanese Auto REpair of San Carlos, ads a set of Lithium Ion batteries to the trunk at $10,400 or so and turns it into a plug-in hybrid. The pack is the A123 Systems, now being tested by Pacific Gas & Elecric. Under normal driving, the gas mileage doubles from a normal Prius. So, if you drive a great deal and don’t need all that trunk space this may be your choice.

Toyota will offer this type of car themsevelves in a few years. The standard Prius battery has a very limited range, and as stated, will allow you to creep home on elctric power alone if the engine fails.

The $10,000 conversion will buy enough gas to power the car for 80,000 miles. I doubt the batteries will last that long, being used for primary power. And you still have to buy gasoline…

If you run out of gasoline the car will give you a warning and (depending on speed) slow down. If you keep pressing the accelerator pedal, you may get another mile. In many (but not all) cases, this gets folks to the next gasoline station.

The thing to avoid is trying to restart the car w/o fuel on board. Enough tries will discharge the high-voltage battery. Almost always the dealer can charge it back up, but they won’t have the gadget on hand, and they won’t do it for free.

Not running out of fuel is good. Not discharging the HV battery is better. But to get that extra mile-or-so, you don’t have to add anything to the car.


I have to agree with you on the economics which are very poor; someone like Jay Leno, ot Julia Roberts might be interested in this. I do give credit to entrepreneurs who try to make a differnce. By the time Toyota comes out with a hybrid Prius, it will probalby be a $2000 extra.