In the Fall of 2008, employees of twelve diverse organizations across Washington state began driving PHEVs in a variety of real-world conditions as part of the Plugin Center PHEV Pilot Project.

The project builds on the recommendations of the Washington Climate Advisory Team made in February 2008, which suggested that “accelerating and integrating plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) use” was one of the most promising strategies for “promoting cleaner vehicles” to reduce pollution.

The Plugin Center is the coordinator for the Washington State PHEV Pilot Project.

Scope of the PHEV Pilot Project

The Pilot Project features the collection and analysis of a full two years of data from each of 14 fleet-owned Toyota Prius hybrids that are converted into PHEVs. The converted vehicles serve as research and demonstration platforms, operating in a variety of real-world applications and conditions throughout Washington. The Port of Chelan County purchased and converted the first Prius hybrid for the project in April 2008. The remaining thirteen hybrids were converted PHEV in November 2008.

More than $750,000 has been invested in this project by “enrollees,” including the Port of Chelan CountyIdaho National LaboratoryWashington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED), and Wenatchee Valley College. The funds are highly leveraged by the depth of experience, industry networks, and technical knowledge associated with the Plugin Center.

PHEV Conversions

Hymotion conversion kits (L5v2) were selected for the Toyota Prius conversions. These kits utilize A123 System’s advanced Nanophosphate™ lithium battery packs that are charged via standard 120 volt or 240 volt outlets. Hymotion states that under optimal conditions the L5 module will provide an all-electric equivalent range of approximately 30 miles, will take approximately 5.5 hours (to recharge on 120v), can average more than 100 miles per gallon, and if used only for short trips, 500 miles per gallon is possible. The kit configuration has been ‘crash tested’ and approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For additional information on the kit, visit Hymotion Products. For additional information on the batteries, visit

Conversions was performed at Wenatchee Valley College’s automotive training facility, and was attended by fleet technicians from each participating organization. These conversion sessions included a workshop developed by the Plugin Center and Wenatchee Valley College to provide the fleet representatives with basic information about PHEV technology and the Pilot Project.

Data Collection and Analysis

Each of the vehicles is equipped with V2Green ( data loggers / GPS units / cellular modems to collect real-time vehicle performance data. The cellular modem uploads the data to a server where it is archived and made available for analysis by Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The lab conducts advanced PHEV technology research by modeling, testing, and analyzing data for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA).  INL monitors fuel efficiency, electricity usage and other vehicle performance measures on each of the 14 converted Toyota Prius PHEVs. Data from the PHEVs in this Pilot will be aggregated by INL with data from approximately 130 other PHEVs in similar pilots throughout the nation, including 13 other vehicles in the greater Seattle area.

Pilot Project Partners/Enrollees

The 12 organizations below were “enrolled” as active participants in the project:

Port of Chelan County
City of Wenatchee
Chelan County
Wenatchee Valley College
Douglas County PUD
Green IT Alliance
Energy Northwest
Snohomish County (2 PHEVs)
Walla Walla Community College
Benton County PUD
University of Washington (2 PHEVs)

Purpose of Pilot Project

Information and lessons from this project will be used to:

  • provide fleet managers technical information on which to base strategic decisions
  • better understand grid implications, especially with regard to the NW grid
  • optimize the development and integration of PHEVs with the grid (e.g., how to control charging to complement the grid)
  • optimize the development and integration of PHEVs with wind and solar power
  • identify and address practical connection (e.g., charging) issues
  • identify best practices for infrastructure to support electrified vehicles (e.g., electric and building code accommodations; public charging station protocols)
  • assist communities to prepare for a proliferation of increasingly electrified vehicles
  • refine curriculum for college automotive service training
  • evaluate capacity of PHEVs to improve air quality
  • develop in-state experience in converting, repairing, and maintaining PHEVs
  • identify opportunities for R&D and business development in Washington State
  • demonstrating PHEVs in urban, suburban, and small city locales
  • facilitate a vision and strategic plan for developing and deploying plug-in technology in Washington State