Now there’s an idea!

Want to retrofit your commuter car into a plug-in hybrid? Want to do it for less than $5000?

Tomorrow has the answer!

It fits into a wheel hub and can double a car’s fuel economy. That’s the claim of Dr. Charles Perry, who says his plug-in hybrid retrofit kit can save America 120 million gallons of fuel per day. Big talk. But then, inventors betting on revolutionary uphevals need to talk as big as they think. The former IBM electrical engineer designed the kit to transform existing automobiles into hybrids by placing an electric motor inside each wheel. Perry recently took first prize for his invention at a green energy competition at the Tennessee Technology Development Corp. The plan is to develop the kit into a product selling for between $3,000 and $5,000.

As part of the prize, Perry received a $50,000 grant, which will be matched by Palmer Labs LLC of Reston, Va., whose goal is to commercialize the invention.

Perry reiterates a common statistic that 80 percent of US drivers make daily trips of fewer than 30 miles at 40 miles per hour or slower. Such performance, he says, can be achieved by way of his 10-15 horsepower electric motors, which would be powered by extra batteries installed in a car’s trunk.

Perry will work with the Tennessee Technological University on a prototype, then plans to fit 30 state-owned vehicles with the kit for testing. The final stage would see the kits manufactured by Palmer Labs within three years.

This would be perfect for folks who drive a wagon type vehicle or compact truck to and from work (folks like me). If all you use it for is that, this’ll kick your weekly fuel bill to the curb. My employer is already thinking of offering outlets for plug-in owners, and if this gets down in the $3K range, I don’t know that we’ll have enough spots close to the building to accomodate everyone.

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6 Responses to Now there’s an idea!

  1. emdfl says:

    Love to see where he got that “common statistic” from. I can guarantee that it was from t he folks who commute near any large city.

  2. David says:

    One of the things about the CAR WARS universe that really seemed cool was the concept of an individual motor powering each wheel. Harshman Memorial, here I come!

  3. Wildman7316 says:

    When the fuel tax revenue goes away expect the .gov type to want to install a gps device in your vehicle so you can pay “your fair share” of the road expenses and be taxed by the mile. And if you try to plug into any of my outlets, I’m going to charge you with theft of services (electric), 110VAC at 20amps adds up REAL quick. As somebody who has been there and done that, when you add that much unsprung weight your handling and ride _are_ going to suffer, not to mention the extreme wear and high failure rates I would expect to see in the suspension components (shocks, bearings, bushing etc.)

  4. Kurt P says:

    A couple of questions about this miracle retrofit, just off the top of my head….
    -How many hundreds of pounds in extra batteries will be needed to run his motors?
    -How long will they last with that kind of discharge rate?
    -When this punishing energy tax kicks in and your emplyers electric bill skyrockets, will they still be providing free plug-ins?

  5. emdfl says:

    Arrgh – “guarantee that it was” S/B “guarantee that it WASN’T”.
    35 miles each way – mostly on highway at 60-70mph.

  6. Rivrdog says:

    What Wildman said. The unsprung weight will kill you, and if your motors are light enough that it doesn’t, they are NASA deep-space quality and VERY expensive.

    For about $10K you can get a kit with very good instructions to rip out the gas motor from a light sub-compact car or mini-truck, install a single DC motor (some are 96 volt, some 144) and put in the batteries, motor controller (spendy part) and recharger(s) to complete the kit.

    There is quite a cult of these down in the SFO area, enough of them that they get favored treatment in city parking lots, and even FREE electricity to recharge.

    The car will become a total plug-in EV, be good for 60-65 mph cruise on the freeway and have a range of 70-100 miles, depending on your lead foot. Recharge is recommended after half the battery charge is used, so you get 35-50 miles before recommended recharge.

    If you spend triple the amount on your batteries (golf car lead acids are $75-90 per 6 volt unit), you can use gel cells, which can be safely discharged down to zero.

    Each total discharge you do on lead acid (flooded) batteries takes 10-15% from their capacity. It probably pays to spend the extra $$$ for gel cells.

    Doubling the $$$ spent on the recharging system will give you “rapid” (4-hour) recharge instead of normal-rate recharge (8-12 hours). Spending more on the motor controller will give you SOME extra range, maybe 10 miles or so.

    I think the next thing will be a system to limit the “throttle” response to acceleration commands to save the battery as it gets discharged. That should be easy to accomplish, it is simply a version of the wheel-slip controller that diesel-electric and electric locomotives have been using for decades.

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