Usually souped-up street rods are created by teenagers. But if you’re an engineer, you can convert your Prius into a 250mpg super-miser by adding a few more batteries and plugging it in overnight. This extra energy costs less than twenty-five cents a day. And Ron Gremban lives in California, where hybrids can now use the car pool lane, even if only one person is in the car.

Gremban customized his Prius by adding 18 batteries to the trunk. It cost only about $3,000 to do the job. The Prius increases its fuel efficiency by using the small amounts of electricity created by braking and coasting. The extra batteries let Gremban store even more power by plugging the car into a wall outlet in his garage.

The all-electric car disappeared, because potential buyers were too afraid of running out of juice and getting stranded on the road. Despite the fact that they would work just fine for the usual trips around town, people wanted a car they could use for long trips, for the same reason so many people drive those huge, empty SUVs?they want the space if they need it.

These consumer worries may be meaningless, but only by addressing them will car manufacturers be able to sell desperately-needed hybrids to the masses. In the meantime, the government, while increasing the miles-per-gallon mandate for ordinary cars, has refused to insist on a similar increase in SUV mpgs, for fear of offending the auto industry. Car makers depend on SUVs for most of their income, because they’re so cheap to manufacture.

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