Plug-In Prius Conversion: Mid-Atlantic

by Paul Fischer

I drive a Prius. My wife drives a Prius. We’re proud of the fact that our cars get high mileage and are inexpensive to own and operate. We’re also proud to be doing something for the environment.

The Prius is a great car, but it could be better. In many other places where the Prius is sold, with the exception of the US, the Prius has an EV (Electric Vehicle) mode. This allows the drive to completely disable the gas motor if he chooses. It’s supposed to be a huge energy savings when you’re driving in traffic or at low speed. If you could combine this with a plug-in option, you could save money and energy. This is called a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).

I want these options. I have wanted them since I found out about them by reading Prius board and website on the net. However, the only places that sell kits to hack your Prius that I’ve found, such as Coastal Tech, are west coast based. Until now.

Enter Harvey Coachworks. This is the first Mid-Atlantic company I’ve seen that does any kind of Prius conversions (a.k.a. Prius Hacking). They’re based in Knoxville, MD less than 30 minutes from where I work. For the first time, I have hope that I can work with a local company to install some of the cooler Prius mods on the market without screwing up my car. I just contacted Mike Harvey, the owner of the company, but already I know we’ll be able to work together.


In and odd coincidence I have worked for him before. In a previous day job he was my supervisor. And, while the company wound up sucking the life out of me, I generally enjoyed working with him. (Except for the time he gave me a performance review and had his head in his Powerbook the whole time he was talking to me. But he was going through some heavy shit at home during that time, so, in hind sight, I’ll cut him some slack.)

What’s even weirder is that he’s going to be on the Science Track at Balticon to talk about his EV and PHEV conversions. I’m definitely going to snag an interview with him. I may even try to record it from inside his car, a VW Cabriolet which he personally converted into an EV.