Want a Plug-in Hybrid Now? Luscious Garage in San Francisco is Your New Best Friend

Plant in tire is a good sign

“Take a used 2004-2009 Prius—maybe your own—and add the [Plug-in Conversions] kit,” says Carolyn. “For less than $30,000 you’ll have a car that’s better than the new 2010 Prius.”

Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in converting your own car or a buying a plug-in conversion through group discounts, you can join this email list for electric cars.

Luscious Garage works exclusively on hybrids. Founded in 2007, it sits amidst early-20th-century storefronts in a quiet, tree-lined section of downtown San Francisco. Outside, a tire hangs high with a plant inside it—just a hint of what’s within.

The ground-level work area is unlike any you’ve seen before. The left wall is filled with colorful artwork. Then, you notice there’s no smell of oil or gas—and no pounding of compressors.

Carolyn CoquilletteNatural light from skylights illuminates the two spotless stations where Carolyn Coquillette, owner and master technician and her employee, master technician John Peters, work. Plants help to filter the air.

Luscious uses rerefined oil, which they buy it in bulk, eliminating plastic containers. They do their own laundry using EnergyStar certified second-hand equipment. They wash their parts in biodiesel. Everything is recycled.

When you arrive, you talk with a technician at a Mac-equipped kiosk, not to a service advisor. Everything is online and transparent—and paperless, thanks to Carolyn’s Hyspace program—essentially Myspace for hybrids. When you purchase service, it’s clearly stated and viewable online at home.

The mezzanine waiting area has the ambiance of a comfortable apartment. It’s furnished in secondhand chairs, a sofa, literature-covered credenza and a modest desk. The floor surface is made from recycled tires. Books line the walls, along with art and a fine old Thomas Brothers San Francisco street map.

“We want you to feel relaxed when you come into the shop,” says Carolyn.

A small 1.5-KW solar array on the roof supplies electricity to run lights and the electric rather than air-powered tools used in the shop.

See Carolyn Explain the Prius Conversion (Video) on Page 2: