While they're not getting behind the wheel of the 2009 plug-in Toyota Prius Popular Mechanics took for a spin, 100 households in Northern California are going to put rubber to asphalt next year in the first large-scale consumer test of plug-in hybrids in the country. The 100 green guinea pigs will be picked from the 4 million members of AAA of Northern California next spring and will rotate between a fleet of 10 converted Priuses loaned out for two-month intervals.
The $15,000 conversion packs in batteries twice as powerful as the stock ones, as well as the plug-in mechanism, allowing the car to roll along at 100 mpg. The 2009 prototype is using a similar setup while Toyota works out the kinks with Li-ion batteries, and the garage doing the conversion has been performing the voodoo for several years, so potential green road warriors needn't worry about horrible, battery-related deaths due to wishy-washy engineering. [SF Gate]