Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, by Seth Leitman
While many US car buyers are still getting used to the idea of hybrid electric vehicles like the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid or the 2010 Toyota Prius, a new variation is barreling down the pike: the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV.
A plug-in hybrid uses a larger battery pack to allow the car to spend more time traveling on pure electricity, without switching on the gasoline engine. Some can travel up to 10 miles, at low speeds, using only the battery pack and electric motor.
Carmakers are preparing a handful of plug-in hybrids. Toyota will test a limited run of Prius plug-ins late this year, and Buick will release a plug-in hybrid crossover based on the 2011 Saturn Vue Two-Mode Hybrid in two years--the real action is among amateurs.
A very enthusiastic wave of garage converters and companies that cater to them has converted several hundred vehicles, mostly the Toyota Prius hatchback and Ford Escape Hybrid crossover. Prime among the activists is Calcars, whose website offers lots of info.
Now a new book has been released that offers to teach you everything you want to know about how to convert your existing hybrid to a plug-in. The author is Seth Leitman, who last year coauthored an updated version of the classic Build Your Own Electric Vehicle.
His new book, Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, is comprehensive but slightly disappointing. In part, that's because book publishing takes way too much time. The field of PHEVs is evolving so fast that you can only find truly up-to-date information online.
In particular, the book's list of conversion kits, sources, and background is now several months old. That's a lifetime for a technology whose members exchange information and collaborate to solve technical problems in online forums (eaa-phev is just one of many).
We don't want to overdo the criticism; the book has many pluses. Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle is a good basic summary of the basics, and its very comprehensive "Sources" chapter will let you access the very latest online.
We just wish it could have been a website, or an e-book, or something other than 320 pages of dead trees. But, that said, if you're looking for a single source to learn all about PHEVs, this is a good place to start.
Build Your Own Electric Vehicle, by Seth Leitman and Bob Brant, Second Edition