POWAY, CA --- Plug In Conversions Corp. (PICC) said it has completed a software upgrade to its plug-in conversion kit, allowing all-electric mode driving at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour in a converted Prius. 

Previous Prius conversion kits have been limited by Toyota programming to a top speed of 34 mph in all-electric mode, PICC said. 

The software upgrade also will allow Prius drivers with PICC conversion kits to boost highway fuel efficiency to 170 miles per gallon (until the rechargeable battery is depleted), as recently measured by Argonne National Laboratory. Chicago-based Argonne reported even higher all-electric mileage in city driving tests of vehicles equipped with the software upgrade and PICC's nickel metal hydride battery conversion kit, now in its third generation. 

"What we're essentially offering is all-electric performance for about 25 miles at highway speeds," said Kim Adelman, PICC's founder and president. "The car is no longer limited to 34 miles per hour, all-electric." 

Adelman displayed a Prius equipped with PICC's third-generation NiMH conversion kit this month at the 2009 Advanced Automotive Battery and EC Capacitor Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. 

The software upgrade is based upon patented technology developed by Chicago-based Ewert Energy Systems, which has granted PICC exclusive rights for its use in Prius conversion kits. 

PICC's conversion kit, which replaces Toyota's 1.3-kilowatt hour NiMH battery pack with a 6.1-kWh pack, retails for $12,500. Conversions can be completed in about one day and the kit is covered by a three-year warranty. The batteries (which carry an expected 10-year lifetime) are manufactured by Gold Peak Industries North America, a subsidiary of GP Batteries International. Gold Peak purchased an equity stake in PICC late last year.