Gordy’s Garage: Mayor Motoring
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has had a Toyota Prius for some time as his official city car. But he recently got a different Prius that has been modified by a new business in Minneapolis called ReGo.
ReGo will change your Prius from a hybrid car to a plug-in hybrid car, and this will cost you $5,000. Simply put, the conversion involves removing the car’s spare tire and replacing it with an additional battery pack and the electronics needed to integrate the second bank of batteries into the car’s operating systems.
A plug-in hybrid, as the name implies, allows you charge the vehicle batteries at home — overnight — with an extension cord and a standard 110-volt outlet.
If you want to go totally “green” you can charge your plug-in hybrid car with electricity from wind or solar sources. If you drive less than 40 miles a day, or can plug the car in where you work, it is possible to get around almost exclusively on electricity. ReGo says a plug-in Prius conversion is good for a real-world 70 miles per gallon.
This picture, taken in the ReGo shop, shows a Prius ready to receive the additional battery pack.
The square thing ahead of the spare-tire well is the original battery pack. The new pack eliminates the on-board spare, so if you get a flat you can use a can of tire inflator/sealer, or call your favorite towing company. Really, though, when was the last time you got a flat tire?
If I were to get one of these cars, and drove very far from the metro area, I think I would figure out a way to secure a spare tire in the cargo area.
As you can see, after the conversion the cargo space is the same as in a “normal” Prius.
The new battery pack weighs about 150 pounds, which is why the technicians at ReGo use an engine hoist to put the battery into the back of the Prius.
The battery pack has a heater so the car can be outside in a Minnesota winter and still perform as intended.
The folks at ReGo say they are working on plug-in conversions for other cars, but it is just a fact of life that the Prius is the most common hybrid on the road right now.
If you are heading to the Fair, there is a ReGo display to check out at the Eco Experience building.