The AP reports that Toyota initially discouraged Prius owners from hacking more mileage out of their cars, but more recently, the automaker has been using the results as inspiration.
Another California Prius hacker, electrical engineer, Ron Gremban adapted his own car by installing a rack of 18 electric bicycle batteries into its trunk. His $3000 modification beefed his gas mileage up to as much as 80 mpg from the standard 61 highway/51 city mpg.
Gremban's car is plugged into an electrical outlet in his garage and stores a charge in advance of driving, at an electrical cost of about 25 cents. While driving, when the charge is depleted, the Prius switches back to its normal operating mode.
Energy CS, the company that modified the two 230-mpg cars, is spinning off a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year.
For about $32,000, you could get your own ECS-modified Toyota Prius or a Dodge Ram Pickup.
On a full tank of gas, the Dodge Pickup, which can carry more than 3 times the amount of fuel as the Prius, could take you from New York City to Buffalo. The modified Prius, on the other hand, can take you from the Big Apple all the way to Los Angeles... and for about $60 less.
At $2.59 a gallon, the Dodge trip to Buffalo would cost $90.65. The Prius trip to LA would cost $30.82.