The Motor Trade Association of South Australia has procured a Toyota Prius which has been upfitted with an aftermarket plug-in conversion, as part of its plans to develop hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle training resources for automotive repair technicians throughout the state of South Australia.


Left to right, MTA South Australia Executive Director John Chapman chats with Kim Adelman of Plug-In Conversion Corporation (PICC). Tia Keast, a mechanical apprentice at MTA, is behind the wheel. Click to enlarge.

The announcement was made at the MTA’s new multimillion-dollar Heavy Vehicle Workshop at Royal Park in Adelaide. Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Member for Port Adelaide, Hon. Mark Butler MP, who had been instrumental in securing Federal funding for the facility, was the first person to officially drive South Australia’s first plug-in electric Toyota Prius. “It is a very exciting project and one which reinforces the Federal Government’s push to look at alternative fuels to protect the environment,” Butler said.

MTA Executive Director John Chapman said the conversion was undertaken as part of ongoing development of the MTA’s automotive training for members. “We have recently sent one of our trainers to the US to attend some special courses so that we are now in a position to develop our own modules for both members and their employees to attend.

The Prius was donated by the South Australian Government from their fleet, and has been fitted with a special battery pack and charging unit by founder Kim Adelman and chief technician Mike Dibble of California-based Plug In Conversion Corporation (PICC).

The plug-in conversion replaces the existing Prius battery with a larger nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The vehicle can be charged in a garage overnight by plugging into a normal 240 volt outlet, enabling it to travel up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) on batteries alone before operating as a normal hybrid vehicle.

The MTA’s Group Training Scheme is currently training more than 500 apprentices at the Port Royal training center. Continuing education courses are also offered to support working technicians.

Jack Rosebro