Toyota is leasing 500 prototype plug-in hybrid Prius’s to lucky recipients in the U.S, Europe, and Japan next year, but what about all the other Prius owners who want to provide some plug-in juice to their cars? Enter 3Prong Power, a Berkeley, California startup that offers plug-in hybrid conversions for first, second and third generation Prius’s as well as the Ford Escape Hybrid.
The conversion, which is the first available for first generation Prius’s, creates a 35-mile EV mode for the vehicles. So drivers can fill up with petroleum at a gas station — or fill the electric tank in any standard electrical outlet.
3Prong’s conversion isn’t cheap, with prices ranging from $3,499 to $11,499 (the most expensive option has a 40-mile EV mode). But at the same time, the conversion stands to cut fuel costs by up to a quarter, since electricity costs less than petroleum. At the moment, 3Prong only offers its services in the Bay Area. Don’t be surprised, however, if similar Prius conversion companies pop up elsewhere as PHEVs become more popular.