FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

NiLCO2 is a business fully owned by the Australian company AMR Homeport Pty Ltd established since 1983.

By using electricity instead of petrol aren’t we simply shifting emissions from car exhaust pipe to coal fuelled power stations?

That would be true if we did not have electricity source options open to us. Most major energy utilities now offer a green power alternative for your household needs, i.e., electricity supplied from low emission or renewable non-fossil sources from a growing list such as: Natural gas, Wind, Solar PV, Solar thermal, Geothermal, Tidal, Wave Power etc.

However with governments now subsidizing installations of home Solar PV co-generation installations and offering very significant incentives such as Gross feed-in Tariffs (FIT) whereby electricity supply utilities are obliged to purchase all surplus power generated by your home solar panels at a fixed $0.60/kWh price considerably higher (6 times that of off-peak) than what most consumers would pay for power purchased from the utility.

In most parts of Australia, PHV owners who also have the minimum eligible 1.5kW Solar PV installation at home, could easily sell 10kWh @ $0.60 earning $6.00 every day during daylight hours. Even after deducting the cost of purchasing off-peak electricity to recharge an average sized PHV each night, the above scenario would still result in a Solar co-generating minus PHV charging profit of $2036.00 each year.

However the bigger pay-off is the fact that using solar to generate more than you need for recharging gives you a negative CO2 net footprint for recharging your PHV. Yes you will in fact reduce power station emissions.

 
How soon can I get a PHV pack installed?

Presently we hold component stocks for Prius (2004-2009) packs that can be installed with three weeks prior notice. Other hybrid models generally require about six weeks  lead-time.

Note however that supplies of top quality lithium EV batteries are in increasing demand by the world’s car manufacturers therefore future delivery time lags are unpredictable.

 
My hybrid is already semi battery/electric, what does the NilCO2 pack actually contribute?

Your present HEV is powered by a petrol or diesel fueled internal combustion engine (ICE) plus an electric engine that doubles as a generator/recharger (EEG). Both are engines are coupled to the Hybrid’s drive wheels with the EEG, energized by the standard high voltage battery (HVB), supplementing the power delivered by the ICE as driving conditions demand.

The HVB is recharged by the EEG which may be driven by the ICE or, when coasting, decelerating or braking, by waste energy from the drive wheels.

Your new NILCO2 enhanced, pre-charged PHV has a substantially larger battery bank (NP) than the HVB. The NP supplements the HVB and prolongs power available to drive the EEG for use in both EV and/or whilst in highway mode.

In short, there is higher percentage (up to 100%) of battery energy available from the enhancement pack to drive the PHV therefore the petrol engine is called upon to provide a lesser percentage of the total power (down to 0%), thus consuming considerably less fossil fuel. 

Once depleted the PHV car should be plugged in to a normal power outlet to recharge at the next convenient opportunity (usually overnight). During static charging only the NP is charged, the HVB is not charged at this time.

Upon depletion of the NP your PHV Hybrid will perform as it always did, no range anxiety, no change!

 
What is the battery lifespan? 

Although a relatively new technology, Lithium batteries are rapidly becoming the design choice of mainstream EV manufacturers. Toyota is changing from NiMH to Lithium for their upcoming PHVs.

As does Toyota, NilCO2 packs are designed to automatically limit maximum charge and depth of discharge to prolong battery life.

Most Lithium battery manufacturers indicate a typical cycle life of  >2000 for limited depth of discharge applications.

Toyota Australia reports that of over twelve thousand hybrids sold in Australia since 2001, only three drive batteries have been replaced up to 2009.

Of the three, two were in Cairns taxis; one had clocked up 350,000 km and the other a staggering 550,000km. (See interesting related article in Links page)

 
I understand that energy generated by the petrol engine (ICE) and that regenerated by my hybrid while coasting, decelerating and braking all help to recharge the standard HV battery. Are the new PHV pack batteries also topped up by these sources?

Packs up to K40 are only rechargeable by the included onboard charger that is plugged into a standard home style power outlet.

Larger NilCO2 PHV enhancement packs (over K40) are also charged from the included charger, but also harvest regenerated energy when installed in some hybrids.

However all pack sizes will benefit from our optional car rooftop solar panel chargers (see product list for details).

 
How long does it take to charge a PHV?

Charge time is proportional to the depth of discharge. The charger built into your NilCO2 pack will have been sized to match the capacity of the pack installed. Typically a charge cycle takes between 3-6 Hours.

 
Some nights I may not be able to plug-in to recharge, is that a problem?

The more frequently you top-up your pack the less petrol you will use. However the only problem resulting from not plugging-in to recharge is more service station stops.

 
What is the cost of having a NilCO2  enhancement pack installed?

Packs based on 40kM to 80kM (all typical EV ranges) are available.  After discussing your preferences, car model and your driving routine, NilCO2 will recommend and quote for appropriate pack options to match your individual needs. Supply including installation costs of our packs start from $5800, plus GST if applicable.

 
So what happens if I have driven mainly in EV mode as much as possible for say sixty kilometers or so and the pack is depleted?

Your PHV seamlessly reverts to normal hybrid mode and you will no-doubt take comfort in the amount of carbon emissions prevented and the fuel costs you have saved.

 
If my daily trips are longer distances do I still save on petrol consumption?

Although not visibly as dramatic as in all EV mode, your pack energy will largely still offset the amount of energy that must otherwise come from petrol used.

 
Does the pack occupy much space and weigh down the car?

Based on a G2 Prius example: For packs up to K40, all batteries, charger and other electronic components are fully contained in a secure metal enclosure located in the under floor storage space of the rear luggage compartment.

The additional battery enclosure for K60 and larger packs also occupy the spare wheel well and some other spaces. Up to K60, pack weight represents no more than two solid adults with luggage in the back. However to maintain normal trim in some vehicles, packs larger than K60 include the exchange replacement of both rear strut coil springs. If you have decided on a pack that displaces the spare wheel you have a number of options;

    1. We offer an optional compact, easy to use, tubeless tyre temporary repair and inflation kit that will enable repair of the tyre whilst it is still on the car (in most cases), therefore no spare is required at all
    2. The spare may be left home if commuting locally.
    3. For long trips the spare may be stowed on the luggage space floor and secured using the four standard luggage anchor points provided in a prius.
    4. You can join a roadside service association and call for assistance in case of a flat tyre.
 
Is the existing HV hybrid battery removed from my car?

No, installing your PHV pack does not require that we tamper with the inbuilt HV battery. Electrical connections are made between new pack and the vehicle inverter input circuit and control circuits only.

 
Will my enhanced PHV also be able to feed electricity back to the grid? 

Power feed-out options are viable for owners who have installed our larger packs and who also have a home Solar PV co-generation set-up. NilCO2 can provide power feed-out as a customized option upon request.

 
Do I need to have a special power outlet installed to charge my PHV?

A normal 10Amp power-point in the garage is adequate to recharge all packs within a reasonable time, typically 4 hours (6 hours maximum). To minimize the cost of charging, it is highly recommended that you arrange to have your charger outlet connected to the home off-peak, night-rate or water-heating meter.

 
What stops me from driving off with the charge plug still connected?

Starting the vehicle whilst the charge lead is plugged in will trigger an audible \'Please disconnect the charger plug\' warning message*. Prior to installation you may also opt to have a lock-out of the \'Power On Ign. Ready\' (until the charge plug is removed) function enabled.
*Audible warning device is an optional accessory.

 
Will my car stop when the PHV pack charge is depleted?

No, your car will simply revert to normal HEV mode until the pack is recharged

 
What about safety, I have heard that lithium batteries can catch on fire!

Lithium Ion batteries using various chemistry variants have been deployed in numerous applications since the early eighties and some (free-lithium) types have justifiably led to safety concerns.

During the past ten years much of the accumulated knowledge relating to causes of chemical instability and thermal runaway problems has led the evolution of the high power Lithium Iron Phosphate or LiFePO4 batteries that are now considered the “state of art” safest lithium high power battery technology available.

LiFePo4 cells use relatively benign, incombustible, lithium-phosphate compound cathodes, superior thermal stability, even when severely abused, and offer significantly longer life cycles. 

 
Roadworthy Certification?

After installing and testing the pack in your enhanced PHV, and only in jurisdictions  where regulations require same, NilCO2 shall procure a formal roadworthy certificate, for your submission to the motor vehicle registry.

 
What if I get shunted in a rear end collision?

Rear end crash-withstand engineering and testing has proved that batteries are securely fixed in position. As a precaution to minimize the risk the electrification of the vehicle in case of terminal cable insulation being compromised during a catastrophic crash, detectors built in the packs prevent current flow if tripped. LiFePo4 cells do not contain liquid electrolyte so they do not present the acid spillage risks of other battery types.

 
Warranty?

A 12 month warranty period applies to all NilCO2 manufactured equipment. Further manufacturer's warranties may apply to certain outsourced components.

 
Effect on my car warranty by fitting the pack?

Aftermarket equipment professionally installed should have no impact on warranty. The "Magnusen-Moss Act" puts the onus on the car manufacturer to prove that the warranty claimant caused damage by installing aftermarket equipment. NilCO2 packs simply assist the car by providing controlled HV battery charge as needed.

We are unaware of any car manufacturer ever denying a warranty claim due to the installation of PHV enhancement packs.

 
General car service and after sales service to the PHV pack?

There is no need to change your normal car servicing arrangements with your dealership service department, NilCO2 packs are designed as zero maintenance systems. NiLCO2 provides on-line and back to base support for its products.
Currently we have bases in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Coffs Harbour with further installation and service  representatives soon to be appointed across our entire market area.

 
Can my Pack be transferred to my new hybrid when I change cars?

Batteries form the bulk of your pack and are totally transferable to other hybrid cars.
If your new hybrid is the same model the electronic modules will also transfer directly. Different models may require alternative control systems. 

 
Are the batteries readily, safely, cleanly disposable at end of life?

Lithium technology is targeted at producing efficient, recyclable, environmentally friendly, non toxic, safe batteries. With the development of LiFePO4 versions almost each target has been achieved at the cost of a minor compromise in energy density compared to other more volatile or more toxic lithium compounds. A number of E-waste recyclers are now established to safely process electronic waste products.