Thursday, August 16, 2012

Turn Your Car Into a Plug-In Hybrid for $3,000

Turn Your Car Into a Plug-In Hybrid for $3,000:

Photo: MTSU

After five years of research, students at the University of Middle Tennessee have installed a full plug-in hybrid kit in a stock 1994 Honda Accord. The setup gives between 50 and 100 percent better gas mileage with two electric motors delivering power directly to the rear wheels, leaving the engine-powered front wheels to work with little effort. The price of all the parts comes to about $3,000 and can be applied to almost any car.
Energy for the motors comes from a lithium ion phosphate battery that sits in the trunk. The battery in the research vehicle is big and ugly so it can easily transmit data, but the production version will be about “the size of a carry-on bag,” said head researcher Professor Charles Perry.
The twin three-phase DC brushless motors sit in the empty interior around the rear brakes. They power the wheels directly, rather than going through the drive shaft like other hybrids. Each motor produces 200 pound-feet of torque. The setup has four patents pending, all of which will be owned by the university to fund future research.
Perry said, “The whole point was to demonstrate the feasibility of adding the electrical motor to the rear wheel of the car without changing the brakes, bearings, suspension — anything mechanical.”
Perry says that the design is aimed at “around town” drivers, as range is limited to about 35 miles per charge, and once the car hits 40-plus mph, the system cuts off.
Perry is speaking with potential investors to solicit funds to build and demonstrate a production version of their design. Of the next steps, Perry said, “We need quite a bit of money to have proof of product. What we’ve achieved is a demonstrated technology, not a proven technology. Investors want to see proven field-tested performance and reliability. We have to pass through this transition, from feasibility to true, viable product.”

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