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Asking Slashdot: Converting an SUV Into an Hybrid Diesel-Electric? 543

Posted by timothy
from the confuse-both-sides-of-the-spectrum dept.
joaommp writes "So, my team has started a project to convert an SUV into an hybrid diesel-electric vehicle — basically, an electric vehicle with a diesel engine working as a range extender. We've now setup a campaign on Indiegogo to help with the project costs (we are a non-profit team) and later we'd like to, if the project is successful, be able to provide conversion kits and additional kits for elements of the transformation, like the HUD, for example. Why an SUV conversion? Because a lot of people like SUVs (sense of safety, overcompensation, etc) but they're un-economic and environment unfriendly. I'd like to ask all slashdotters if they have any advice or tips for this project. We already have the project well defined but more input is greatly appreciated before we begin tearing apart the beast. So, if you could help providing additional advice and information, it would be awesome."
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Asking Slashdot: Converting an SUV Into an Hybrid Diesel-Electric?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:11PM (#40699927)

    Just duct tape a Prius to each wheel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:13PM (#40699949)

    Doctor, I don't like to exercise and I know eating 5,000 calories a day is bad for me.
    Can you give me a pill to so I can continue eating bad but will have a thin body of a super model?

  • Use a Lupo engine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:13PM (#40699953)

    (1) The 3-cylinder version gets around 85mpg on the highway. Of course with the greater air resistance of an SUV, so you might have to use a 4-cylinder version which burns more fuel, but that's still a huge improvement.

    (2) Supplement the tiny engine with an electric motor to give extra bursts of power, such as when accelerating. Basically the Honda model.

    (3) Dump the SUV, because it's a highly-inefficient form factor. Nobody needs an SUV unless they own a carpentry business and carry stuff with them all day long. A car is a better aerodynamic shape. My generation never had SUVs (not invented yet), and yet my parents were able to get us to the soccer games just fine with their 4-door sedan.

    • by Jeng (926980) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:23PM (#40700123)

      A car is a better aerodynamic shape. My generation never had SUVs (not invented yet),

      The Suburban has been around since the 1930's.

      Nobody needs an SUV unless they own a carpentry business and carry stuff with them all day long.

      Actually mini-vans are a better choice than an SUV for most trades such as carpenters. Better mileage, big flat floor to lay out full sheets of plywood/drywall, and big side sliding doors for easy access.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NalosLayor (958307)
        Unsurprisingly, a regular van is an even better choice, mileage aside. Even less surprising is how common regular vans are. It's almost like someone designed them for that purpose...or something. Unlike SUVs.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cpu6502 (1960974)

        A suburban is not one of them. The SUV was specifically developed in the 1980s in order to avoid the federal emissions standards/CAFE MPG limits. The suburban does not qualify as a "light truck" that is exempt like a true SUV.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:38PM (#40700395)

      Oh God the idiotic answer of "Nobody needs an SUV except XYZ".

        - They stopped making the Crown Vic, that means 3 child families must use SUVs and Vans.
        - Modern cars are often rather small, making them worthless for big trips with young children (try to fit two decent strollers in the trunk of something that isn't a Crown Vic, I dare you).
        - The towing capacity of the average modern car is about 1000 lbs (many actually explicitly state NO towing WHATSOEVER). This means that families owning a house, where every couple of months you want to haul a large item home will need to oftentimes rent another vehicle for that purpose. Why not just buy a more versatile vehicle to start with?
        - Modern cars have small engines. This is great around the town, but on the highway, mileage suffers horribly. SUVs get much better highway mileage (not better than cars, but not all that far away) because they often put an appropriately sized engine in them.
        - Some modern cars (not all) do not support roof racks. So you can't even use it to bring a bicycle with you (since you can't tow with it, either) on a small fun trip.
        - If you like to do your own repair work, modern cars are hell on earth due to their cramped engine compartments, unibody construction, and independent suspension (of course, most SUVs have that nowadays too, but not *all* are terrible to work on the way it generally is with cars).
        - They quit making station wagons (give or take) so those customers bought SUVs (which are now being downsized to CUVs, which I guess is the modern day station wagon).
        - It sucks ass getting a flat in a car on a long trip, since most modern cars have a toy tire, or worse, tire goop and an inflator ("clown shoes" as I like to call it). Many SUVs offer a full size spare--extremely handy!
        - Stop using gasoline, use LPG or CNG and all of a sudden driving a V8 doesn't matter anymore (for your pocketbook or the environment). Once you go V8 with propane, you will not go back--the savings over a 4-banger gasoline car along with the actual enjoyment of driving will say to you "What have I been missing?!?!"

      Reply and add more reasons you own an SUV.

      Feel free to complaint that it's breeders that buy SUVs, because you're probably right. However, without breeders YOU don't exist. Think about that for a moment.

      • by Jeng (926980) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:59PM (#40700755)

        - The towing capacity of the average modern car is about 1000 lbs (many actually explicitly state NO towing WHATSOEVER). This means that families owning a house, where every couple of months you want to haul a large item home will need to oftentimes rent another vehicle for that purpose.

        It is cheaper to have it delivered than drive around with an extra ton or two of vehicle everyday.

        - They stopped making the Crown Vic, that means 3 child families must use SUVs and Vans

        Minivans are a better option than a full size van or an SUV. Better seating, more flexible, easier to drive and better mileage.

        - Modern cars have small engines. This is great around the town, but on the highway, mileage suffers horribly. SUVs get much better highway mileage (not better than cars, but not all that far away) because they often put an appropriately sized engine in them.

        Yes, I had an underpowered car once and yes it got horrible mileage, but is not the norm for a car to have an underpowered engine in it.

        - It sucks ass getting a flat in a car on a long trip, since most modern cars have a toy tire, or worse, tire goop and an inflator ("clown shoes" as I like to call it). Many SUVs offer a full size spare--extremely handy!

        One can purchase a full size spare and doing so is cheaper than buying an SUV for the option of a full size spare.

        -

        Now there is a good argument to make regarding SUV's and that is at full capacity it gets pretty good mileage per passenger.

      • - Modern cars have small engines. This is great around the town, but on the highway, mileage suffers horribly. SUVs get much better highway mileage (not better than cars, but not all that far away) because they often put an appropriately sized engine in them. /quote>

        Does not compute. Power is more important around town than on the highway. Doesn't take a ton of power to maintain a steady state 70mph. Even the big rigs, which way 50,000lbs+ are only 400-600hp.

        As for cars, you can get a VW Sportwagen or Passat TDI, both of which, while not Crown Vics are exactly Yarises (Yarii?) either. Comfortable seating for 4 adults, 5 in a pinch, with plenty of cargo space. Both easily get 40mpg highway, over 50mpg in favorable conditions. They're not slow cars either - 0-60 of ~9 seconds, which isn't blistering, but is certainly not slow, and the excellent low RPM torque of the turbo diesel gives them plenty of grunt around town. They can also tow 2,000 lbs comfortably.

        Oh, and they have 2.0L engines.

      • by mhajicek (1582795)

        - They stopped making the Crown Vic, that means 3 child families must use SUVs and Vans.

        Or sedans or wagons. Most vehicles I see on the road are four door four seat sedans, but they must not have any where you live.

        - Modern cars are often rather small, making them worthless for big trips with young children (try to fit two decent strollers in the trunk of something that isn't a Crown Vic, I dare you).

        Try a Subaru Legacy Wagon. My parents have been driving those since '82, and not only can you fit just about anything in them (including a five person family) and on them (including stacks of plywood), they can also pull other vehicles out of the mud or snow. They also have the advantage of being more efficient than SUVs and don't roll over when you make an avoidance maneuver.

        - The towing capacity of the average modern car is about 1000 lbs...

        Mayb

      • by Sun.Jedi (1280674) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @01:44PM (#40701451) Journal

        Reply and add more reasons you own an SUV.

        I own an ford expedition and a ford f150 supercrew (4 real doors).

        - I do not like being at "car level". I feel more secure at "truck level". Better visibility.
        - More metal. Real bumpers. I do not feel safe in a small plastic car.
        - MPG. Even if I could get a car with more metal and size, many car models are not significant improvements over my SUV and offer less convenience.
        - 4x4. When I want to go, I go.
        - Interior room. I have 3 kids. Ever put 3 child safety seats into a small plastic car?
        - Kids have "things"... backpacks, class projects, game cases. 3 kids + any friends gets cramped in cars.
        - Minivans, the only real alternative to SUVs. Ugly. Expensive. Nuff said
        -.Environment? Meh. I drive a 2 cylinder for the better part of 9 months out of the year. It's a Harley.

        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:34PM (#40702797)

          You "feel safer" in a big, giant vehicle, but then you ride a motorcycle much of the time? You're a moron. What do you think happens to you when someone driving an SUV (or a car) hits you on your Harley?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ethanms (319039)

        I've owned pickups, large and small cars, large and small suvs, and full sized vans in my life time, so I feel qualified to look at the spectrum and give responses to your points...

        They stopped making the Crown Vic, that means 3 child families must use SUVs and Vans.
        - Modern cars are often rather small, making them worthless for big trips with young children (try to fit two decent strollers in the trunk of something that isn't a Crown Vic, I dare you).

        3 kids fit in the back of my 2003 Civic.

    • by HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:39PM (#40700411)
      He pretty clearly stated why they're using an SUV, and I applaud his thinking. Since so many people want the SUV "feel", if he can succeed in this it could herald a major step forward.

      It doesn't matter what you think people "need". The "need" behind an SUV is often simply the desire to own a large vehicle. Since that's the case, why *not* try to succeed with a big old truck with crappy aerodynamics and weight ratios? It seems FAR more likely that this generation of soccer moms (who have access to Suburbans and Expeditions) will switch to an electric/diesel hybrid SUV than to a Prius.
      • by DarkOx (621550)

        I am not for telling anyone what they can or cannot drive but we need to start treating SUVs like "light trucks" where taxes and emissions are concerned because they share all the negative aspects of light trucks compared to cars.

    • Back in the old days, there were these things called Station Wagons. People who had more than 2 kids used them to carry stuff and people back and forth.
      As time goes on, Station wagons were un-cool as Drive-in makeout sessions gone the way of the dodo. But, people still want to carry their assorted off springs and general excess stuff.
      In response, they bought these vehicles that looked like Station Wagons, albeit with a slightly shorter hood, with jacked up suspension, and larger tires. Rather than c
    • Jeep Cherokee

    • by bobcat7677 (561727) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:45PM (#40700499) Homepage
      I have found most Americans that have SUVs have them for the combination of two needs: They need to tow things sometimes (boat/trailer) so a more powerful engine is needed that is only found in trucks/SUVs and they have more kids than can legally fit into a car. 50 years ago if you had more then two kids you just crammed them in whereever. Now you are required by law to have each child in a government approved car seat that takes up half the car AND have them all in the back seat. Most cars cannot fit more than two child seats (properly secured).
      • Most cars cannot fit more than two child seats (properly secured).

        I guess it depends on the car seats [csharpconsultant.net]. Or maybe the size of your kids...

    • by alen (225700)

      your generation had station wagons which were also the work of the devil according the greenies at the time. the 80's had minivans which were just as evil according to the enviro nazi's.

      most SUV's now are crossovers, which are just station wagons that are higher off the ground, have bigger wheels and a 4 wheel drive option which is awesome

    • Re:Use a Lupo engine (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jittles (1613415) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @01:00PM (#40700769)
      I take exception to your post. Not only is it entirely useless to the OP, its also a waste of bytes. I own an SUV. I average about 28MPG with it. I got it because I could haul 5 people in it for the office carpool, and it holds my hockey bag, my kayak, my bike, and whatever else I want to haul. The seats fold down perfectly flat, and I have used it to haul small couches and other furniture. Would I get better gas mileage with a car? Certainly. Would it seat 5 people as comfortably? Not likely. And I certainly wouldn't have been able to haul all that cargo with a car. Its also a pain to put a hockey bag into the trunk of a car. Just because most people don't need an SUV doesn't mean they can't be suitable modes of transportation.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Concerning #3:

      Find me a modern car which is neither a van, truck, or full-size SUV which has even close to the stowage of the "most models sold" 4-door Sedan in history (basically, a Chevy Impala) and I'll consider your argument against SUVs.

      It may be interesting to you to know that legally-required child restraints can not fit 3-across in anything but the largest modern production SUVs and/or trucks (Suburban, Expedition, etc.). This is not true for pretty much every 4-door sedan produced prior to the 1990

  • The cost of a modern direct injected diesel already adds ~$5000 to the price of a vehicle over a "comparable" gas engine, at $4/gallon gas and $4.50/gallon diesel that works out to ~200k miles to break even. Now you add the cost of the hybrid components and you will never recoup the cost. GM's approach with eAssist is much better, add ~$1,500 to the cost of every vehicle sold but improve fleet economy by ~30%, you have a larger economic and environmental impact by taking the incremental approach.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      I don't see that the Diesel Jetta is $5000 more than the equivalent gasoline Jetta. Where did you get your number?
      It's about $1000 extra and I think it's worth the extra cost since diesel gives more torque (acceleration). $1000/4 per gallon == 250 gallon-equivalents in extra cost. The diesel saves that much fuel in less than 20,000 miles, and after that point you're saving money.

    • Diesel gives better milage, about 1/3 more. http://www.carsdirect.com/car-buying/diesel-fuel-vs-unleaded-gasoline-understand-the-pros-and-cons [carsdirect.com] The price difference between a Passat TDI and gas at the same trim level is only about $2000. http://web.vw.com/vwcompare/ [vw.com] The TDI would save you about $400 a year in fuel costs. You pay for the extra price in just over 2 years.
      • by afidel (530433)
        What? $2000/$400 per year= 5 years (but years are stupid, it's cost per mile and expected vehicle or ownership life that matter). Beyond that I don't WANT to be forced into a higher tier package just to purchase a diesel (yes, please charge me $1200 for a GPS with worse capabilities than my $150 smartphone and worse audio than a $200 aftermarket head unit).
  • Towing capacity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:14PM (#40699975)
    While there are many vanity reasons to buy an SUV, there is a large utility part on most of them - towing capacity like a truck. If you have to combine the family vehicle with towing (camping trailer, boat, ATVs etc), the SUV is your only option aside from even less economic crew-sized trucks. So when you size your electric drive units, make sure they can meet the towing requirements to be competitive outside the vanity market.
  • Well you could always contact these guys [driveeo.com] for tips. They seem to know what they were doing.
  • It provides ever so much space in the back for a really, really long extension cord.

  • FutureTruck! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Breadly (872754) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:16PM (#40700005)
    When I was in university we participated in a competition sponsored by Ford called "FutureTruck" (http://www.transportation.anl.gov/competitions/futuretruck.html) Teams were given a Ford Explorer (truck?) and asked to "improve" it however they saw fit. Most of the teams put in home-made hybrid conversions. some did alt fuels (hydrogen etc). Our team installed a series diesel electric hybrid system using a VW Turbodiesel engine, a tailrotor generator from a 737, a series wound DC motor from a forklift and a big bank of lead-acid batteries. There are LOTs of sources for EV parts and drivetrain design. The biggest challenge for our team was the controls. Isolating the drivetrain loading from the generator loading proved to be extremely tricky. A couple of students with Masters degrees in control theory were just barely able to make the system stable, much less efficient. You're in for a fun project, but a lot of work!
  • When dealing with electric vehicles, the problem isn't the "vehicle" part, it's weight, wind-resistance, and battery technology. So, if you're a gear-head, you're probably approaching this backwards.

    I've driven 100% electric vehicles for eleven years, and the complexity (as the Tesla folks will tell you) is getting enough electrons into the battery faster enough a) without overheating the battery; and b) without stressing the battery chemistry. This is the problem that (continues to be) worked on by cell-

    • by westlake (615356)

      On the plus side, you're absolutely correct: getting the gas-guzzlers to improve MPG is vastly better (more effective) than getting another 10% out of a Prius.

      That depends on the number of SUVs on the road, the mileage they travel, and the purposes they serve. The heavy truck used only on the weekends is not going the impact the numbers very much. The commuter car on the road two hours a day, six times a week, will.

  • but a SUV will never become environment friendly.

    • by joaommp (685612)

      environment friendly, maybe not, there will be also more economic and environment friendly vehicles like a car. But then again, a motorcycle also has better fuel economy than a car. Oh, what about the bicycle? Awesome fuel economy, 0L/km or infinite MPG unless you're counting gallons of fresh soda. Then you might end up with a pretty low mileage...
      There will always be some waste. But at least we could reduce the waste. Make it more efficient. A compromise, if you will.

      • by Rei (128717)

        Exercise burns calories, not particularly efficiently (although not awful). Calories are gained through eating. Food production is a very inefficient process, from an energy perspective (absurdly inefficient if you track it all the way from solar input energy). An order of magnitude worse if those calories are from something like beef.

        The lowest environmental impact you can get for transportation is a low speed ultralight hard-tire electric sled with a full aeroshell, with the driver lying prone. With p

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:26PM (#40700179)

    Invariably, the greenie perspective will rise up in this thread. Here's the most common ones, and a summary of their replies. Think of this as a table of contents for this thread...

    "SUVs are the work of the devil!"
    The argument will be that you should drive a smaller car. Then someone else will chime in that you should drive a sub-compact. Then someone else will say that's stupid because what if you need the space. Then yet another person will say you should consider public transportation. Then That Bicyclist Guy will chime in and say his is the greenest solution. Anonymous Coward will then pop in and note that we should all move to communes and engage in purity chanting as our principle form of entertainment. He will be modded -1, funny.

    "You should just go all-electric!"
    Another classic greenie argument. And therein, discussions of carbon offsets, pollution caused by power plants, and the practical problem of limited range will be had, with much stomping of feet, and occasional use of caps lock. Everybody in the replies will be both right and wrong -- hopefully someone notes that it's the overlap between environmentally-friendly and economically-viable is frightfully small and that's the real problem.

    "Diesel is even worse than gas!"
    The engineers will tear the poor bastards that say this apart. Diesel is actually cleaner, and people far better than I at explaining the particulars of this will enjoy going into great detail and accumulating many +5, informative comments in the process. Europe will be mentioned; along with vaguely disparaging remarks as to the nationality of the original poster (damn americans -- Why u no diesel?)

    Finally, there will be only a small handful of posts that actually talk about the conversion process itself. I'll just go ahead and throw my gas on the fire and suggest a microturbine with a (very) large capacitor, which is how freight trains work. *ducks* Enjoy!

    • by Antipater (2053064) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:37PM (#40700367)
      In other news, the International Criminal Court has a warrant out for your arrest. Something about war crimes against the nation of straw men.
      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:47PM (#40700523)

        In other news, the International Criminal Court has a warrant out for your arrest. Something about war crimes against the nation of straw men.

        They never signed the Geneva convention. They have terrorized our forums, used caps lock on innocents... we will give them no quarter. The bombings will continue until the point is made.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      The biggest problem with the "You don't need an SUV" argument is that people tend to buy and do what they want, not what they need. Examples are: I didn't have to go to my cabin last weekend, but I went anyway. I didn't have to pick my home/work so I'd need this commute, but I like living in the suburbs. I didn't need to get a SUV, but I like the high driver's seat. Limiting yourself to only the things that are strictly necessary may work in wartime [about.com] but otherwise people will do what they want. Same goes for

  • On the surface this seems like a great idea.

    But once you look at the numbers for energy conversions, it is actually more efficient to mechanically couple an ICE to the wheels than to use it as a generator and run an EV motor.

    This is the reason the Chevy Volt has a mechanical coupling to the wheels, when driving on the highway in Range extender mode.

    It gets even worse if you start putting power into the batteries from the generator.

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      But once you look at the numbers for energy conversions, it is actually more efficient to mechanically couple an ICE to the wheels than to use it as a generator and run an EV motor.

      That is not the end of the story. Engines have an operating point at which they are most efficient. If you couple the engine to a generator/battery system, you can use the engine ONLY in this mode, while a mechanical coupling to the wheels requires operation of the engine at lower efficiencies. Perhaps this does not outweigh th

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's more than just that. In the hybrid model with direct coupling, you've got losses between the ICE and the wheels for: driveshaft, universal gears, differential gears, transmission, the coupling to the electric drive, etc.

        The most-efficient mode of operation is this: You put a direct drive electric motor in each of the 4 wheel hubs. These need no gearing, they can go from 0 - reasonable mph just with their natural RPM range. They can also regeneratively brake the car harder than conventional brakes, a

      • by guidryp (702488)

        That is not the end of the story. Engines have an operating point at which they are most efficient. If you couple the engine to a generator/battery system, you can use the engine ONLY in this mode, while a mechanical coupling to the wheels requires operation of the engine at lower efficiencies. Perhaps this does not outweigh the losses of the generator/battery/motor train, but I wonder if if might with an engine that was a completely new design aimed at single-mode operation.

        Again, that is another idea that has more surface appeal than any real depth.

        Engines don't have some super efficient peak where you can make up this difference, what they do have is a small trough, of low efficiency, usually at very low load. At highway speeds they are in the efficient range, so you gain no advantage there at all. It is more for low speed stop n go, where standard hybrids already do an excellent job of keeping cars out of the low efficiency trough, that you might get some small advantage.

        T

  • by avandesande (143899) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:27PM (#40700203) Journal

    All of the problems faced by guys doing conversions of GEO Metros are multiplied directly in relation to the weight of the vehicle.
    Don't waste your time with a SUV.

  • The problem with SUVs are the mass and aerodynamics, neither of which get fixed. Look at the piss-poor mileage of the very sophisticated Escalade hybrid design.

    The Escalade hybrid gets 20 city/23 highway, while the normal gets 14/18. So throwing all the sophisticated technology possible at a big SUV still only gets you to ~20 MPG.

    Let alone the cost of batteries, generator, and motors necessary to drive said big-A#@)( SUV, a hybrid conversion would be a total loser...

  • I think the French made a compressed air engine, and put one in a small suv/mini van. Compressed air at most gas stations is 50cents. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/vehicles/air-car1.htm [howstuffworks.com]
  • As I understand it, you want to use a diesel engine to recharge the batteries and extend the range of the electric vehicle. Have you considered using a turbine instead an internal combustion engine for the range extender? . A constant speed turbine running a power generator should be more efficient than an ICE and should be lighter also. Plus you will get a very cool sound for your vehicle . Good luck
    • by joaommp (685612)

      That is also one of the hypothesis, but we'd like first to try if we can avoid wasting the original engine of the SUV. If we can put it to good use, better. If not, we'll take a new approach. R&D is fun.

    • by Rei (128717)

      I second this. Turbines are horrible for running a vehicle directly due to startup time and gross inefficiency outside of their optimum power band, but if it's a series electric with a battery buffer, it's perfect. It also gives you more fuel options. Also, modern air-bearing turbines don't have the wear problems that older small turbine generators had. Plus, you're dealing with a much narrower band of noise to dampen and little vibration, so it should be a lot easier to keep quiet. Finally, they're co

  • It's easier and cheaper to just slap a 1$ "Experimental Hybrid Electric" sticker on your Yukon instead of replacing the motor. For the price of a donut every Prius driver will give you the thumbs up and let you cut in front of them, instead of giving you a different finger up. People are pretty gullible. (You can get the same effect with a free 'Obama 2012' sticker but the F350's might run you off the road; *everybody* loves experimental cars)
  • Will it run on bio deisel "out of the box" or will it require a conversion kit or add on package? Bio deisel would make it "greener" and might be a selling point.

    • by joaommp (685612)

      We're hoping, if we manage to get enough money, to build a small sized reactor for production of biofuel from used cooking oil. If it is biofuel processed this way, it may be able to function without requiring additional modifications, or maybe adding a better fuel filter.

  • by EdZ (755139)
    1) Don't use hub motors.
    2) DON'T USE HUB MOTORS. Really. They're elegant, they hide away in the wheels, they're an immensely cool idea. They're also hilariously inefficient compared to 'normal' motors, difficult as hell to gear, very damage prone, and massively increase the unsprung mass for each wheel. And have to pretty much be custom made for each wheel layout, so are very expensive.
    3) Use a high charge/discharge rate battery, or large capacitor. Run the motors directly off this bank, so it needs to be
  • If cost and time is of essense, use the diesel engine mated to a high gear and run it at 10% higher than peak torque starts.
    Use this as a generator, to charge your batteries. Let the driving be handles with electric only. So think of it as an electric car with a diesel genset for charge in the boot.

  • People get to hung up on increasing the fuel economy of their small car by another 2mpg. That isn't where the savings are needed. The savings are needed in larger vehicles that real people who don't drive econo boxes like to drive. Vehicles like suv's, trucks and mini-vans that too often struggle to even get 20 mpg.

    A 2mpg increase for an SUV is much more relevant than a 2mpg increase for a prius or a cruze. If you really want to be effective go after vehicles like garbage trucks, they only get 2mpg to begin

  • There are two types of range extension:
    1) Continue to drive normally for a couple hundred miles
    2) Limp along at reduced speed until you get to a charge station

    #1 is the ideal solution, but much harder to do.

    #2 would let you use more of your weight and space budget for batteries and motor. Not a great solution when you might only get 10HP. But you can at least alleviate "range anxiety" and off-the-shelf AC systems can be found for $1-2k (wire it straight to your charging system?).

  • In doing this conversion, you will probably add significant weight to the vehicle. In order to make your powertrain conversion have a greater success, do everything you can to lighten the weight of the vehicle. I'm not talking about stupid things like removing the airbag to save a few pounds, but SUVs in particular are so overburdened with needless crap that you should be able to cut the curb weight by 100-200 pounds (before changing the powertrain) - at least several percent, or the equivalent of an extr
  • Seems a few people know just enough to tell you it won't work... but from a friend in the industry I've heard that this form (serial hybrid) is actually viewed as a pretty good idea. A few points:

    - Batteries are rubbish at storing energy compared to fossils, so replacing loadsa batteries with a fossil-powered generator is actually not a bad idea for giving range & quick "recharge" (refuel).

    - The power needed to accelerate a vehicle is many times that needed to keep moving, if the battery can pick up

  • SUVs will be more useful in 10 years then they are now because most High-Tech centers in the USA have transit channels operating at 100% or over. Presently most SUV use is divided 70/30 between single person use and multiperson usage. And this is so despite all the protestations that SUVs are used primarily to drive kids to school,soccer, whatever. In the next ten years, SUV use will shift from primarily 'single driver in a status vehicle' to a car-pooling tool that takes workers on pre-planned home-to-wo

  • First, classical body-on-frame, or a unibody crossover? Next, do you want it to be 4WD when you're done?

    The easy way is to replace the internal combustion motor with an electric one, preserving the existing driveshaft, transfer case, transmission, etc.

    If you're up to the harder method though: rip out ALL of the existing drivetrain. If it's an independent suspension crossover you can even lose the axles and go with one motor per wheel. If it's a truck-style one you will probably need to keep at least the

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Next, do you want it to be 4WD when you're done?

      Why not go for in-wheel electric motors, since you're already spending the time and money to do the engine conversion? You'd save another (significant) percentage in efficiency by eliminating the drive shaft(s), transfer case, transmission,

      Use the weight savings from eliminating the transmission, tcase, differentials, etc. for batteries. Centerline your diesel tank, and put the batteries where the fuel tank would traditionally be. Then the 'more batteries vs. more engine' scenario isn't really as much of a

  • Your choice of platform will affect engine, and your choice of engine will affect platform. Also, you choice of battery will affect platform, and the weight will affect engine.

    In other words, you need to figure out, first and foremost, what you're going to move. People, cargo/weight in the vehicle, and towing. Then you need to figure out what existing platforms support this capacity, bearing in mind the added weight of a diesel engine (as 50% over conventional) and batteries.

    If I were doing this I'
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:55PM (#40700665) Homepage

    So I assume you've already contact the DoE for whatever materials they have from their Future Truck [anl.gov] competition?

    (as some of the teams were awarded grants, I assume there'd be some sort of documentation about how they achieved the improvements [anl.gov], so you could see if they're changes that the automobile manufacturers have already put into production models, or if there's some additional enhancements to be done.)

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:58PM (#40700747) Homepage

    ok: i've been working on designs for hybrid electric vehicles for some time; i have a 1st prototype project underway at about 30% completion, and am planning the 2nd and 3rd vehicles already. the 2nd and 3rd vehicles will be a saloon and an SUV, respectively, but critically they will be *from the ground up custom built*. there will *NOT* be a *SINGLE* piece of the original chassis used.

    why is that? well, it's very simple: they're far too heavy. you're starting from a 2,000kg vehicle where all the parts are designed to transport a 2,000kg vehicle. google "mass decompounding", and you'll find out more about the concept. look up how much fuel is needed *just* to overcome rolling resistance because of the heavier vehicle. it's absolutely insane.

    unfortunately, as i've just found out from the 1st prototype, even if you use a 750kg vehicle (a suzuki swift aka "geo metro" in the US), the weight of the four wheels, their brakes and the steering assembly are all a significant fraction of the target weight of 350kg.

    so i have instead been looking around for "quad bike cars" - aka "microcars" as donor vehicles. the parts on those are *much* more suited for use in a hybrid electric vehicle. apart from anything, you will *automatically* get better fuel economy simply because of the lower weight.

    so what i recommend that you do is to get one of those "microcars", chuck away all the plastic (or fibreglass) bodywork, and then make your own (large) geodesic bodywork *from scratch*, and cover the entire thing with either canvas or dacron (sail cloth). there's a web site online about a guy who makes single-person canoes weighing *less* than a carbon fibre one, out of dacron and a wooden geodesic frame strengthened diagonally with kevlar strips. pure genius.

    and because you're making the bodywork from scratch, it'll be possible for you to literally make the vehicle as large as you like. and, because it's made of 1mm or 1.2mm tubular steel in a geodesic frame, it's easy to make (and repair), it's strong, and it's light-weight.

    regarding the powertrain: i too originally was going to go for a series hybrid powertrain. but then it occurred to me that that is ridiculous. you have a 240v AC generator comprising a diesel motor and a generator. then you have some quite expensive electronics to convert 240v AC mains down to the DC voltage for charging the batteries. then you have a motor controller, which is also expensive, and then you have *another* electric motor! oh, and then a gearbox.

    so the drivetrain i finally settled on (for the 2nd and 3rd prototypes) is a parallel hybrid, out of nothing more than a diesel engine, a clutch, a CVT gearbox (from the donor microcar) and an electric motor. the diesel motor will be connected to a double-ended output shaft from the electric motor, via a clutch. there will be *no* starter-motor (again, saving weight) because you simply disengage the clutch, effectively using what most people call a "push start", and the diesel will kick in. it'll need a bit of computer-control to compensate for the back-lash from the clutch, but that's just software.

    this rather crude lash-up is all that distinguishes a series hybrid from a parallel one, but it saves enormously on both the overall cost (measured in thousands of dollars) as well as the weight, which again translates into a cost saving due to not having to lug vast lumps of metal around.

    the message should therefore be coming through loud and clear. don't for fuck's sake start from a pre-existing SUV. if you've bought one already, do the planet a favour and scrap it, because there's nothing on the vehicle that is of any use to you in achieving anything *remotely* resembling a fuel-efficiency saving or carbon emissions reductions. if you don't follow my advice, you will find out *why* you should have listened, which is probably a much better lesson for you. i won't say that you will have wasted everyone's money on indiegogo, because you won't have: they too will have learned an incredi

  • If you're going to use a gas engine as a RE, then just use a wave disc engine [wikipedia.org] full-time.

  • A friend's project, with pics.

                    mark

  • You're doing your hybrid wrong. Using batteries as your primary source of power will drastically reduce efficiency.

    A better whole-system efficiency method would be to have a diesel turbine which primarily drives electric per-wheel motors, with batteries serving as your 'boost'. The diesel turbine would ideally be provisioned to provide enough power for highway cruising speeds while generating additional 'top-off' power, and would run at all times at a constant, efficient RPM, with over current being fed to

  • Hi, this is something (that as an Excursion owner and physicist:-) I've often thought about. The solution, however, is not to build a hybrid electric-diesel engine. It is to build a gasoline-gasoline OR diesel-diesel hybrid. The technology for doing this has been around forever, but sadly, nobody has implemented it. Here's how it works.

    If you actually own one of these vehicles, you know that there are three dominant sources of energy waste. I've owned both the 10 cylinder gas Excursion and the 8 cylinder gas Excursion, so I can directly compare my observations of fuel consumption using the built in trip computer. One of the largest ones (if not the largest one) is idle time. In the 10 cylinder version this was extreme -- sitting at a stop sign involved all ten cylinders pounding along, dropping average mileage visibly from any reset. Idle time alone seemed to be one of the largest "costs" of city driving -- it wasn't so much stopping and starting up again (although that was an important part too) as it was stop signs, which hit you BOTH by wasting your KE AND by burning gas keeping all those cylinders going.

    The second controllable source of waste is engine size. One way electric-gas hybrids save is by allowing the electric engine to provide high torque during acceleration so that one can use a much smaller motor when cruising. Big cars with fixed numbers of cylinders, however, have little choice. They either have good fuel economy while cruising (and lousy torque at low speeds) or they have enough cylinders and power to get good torque at low speeds or for towing and lousy fuel economy. The 10 cylinder Excursion had great torque (for a four ton vehicle) but mediocre fuel economy at around 11 mpg, where the 8 cylinder has lousy torque -- it struggles just getting up a hill, especially towing my boat -- but can turn in 13-15 mpg on the highway.

    Both of these problems are so very easily fixable by simply redesigning the gasoline engine so that it is a set of modular ganged pairs of cylinders (pairs to minimize operational vibration by symmetrizing their motion) that can be turned on and off at will in real time as the needs for torque vs idle vary. Take my Excursion. With 5 pairs of cylinders that are geared so that they smoothly go on and add their torque to the total as the accelerator is pressed (trivial for any sort of computerized electronic ignition system these days) one can idle at a stoplight on two, burning less gasoline than a non-hybrid four cylinder car! Indeed, one could probably dedicate one pair of cylinders JUST to idle and overdrive and make them deliberately smaller to burn about as much gas as a lawnmower during idle.

    Then, when one accelerates away from the stop, one successively kicks on and in the pairs of cylinders. For a period of maybe 10 to 20 seconds, the car is a 10 cylinder car and you pull smoothly away to merge, get up to speed (including your boat or whatever) and sure, you burn gas during this stretch. But then one merges at speed, or reaches the normal speed of traffic. You no longer need 10 cylinders to provide the torque that overcomes just level-ground wind resistance and friction. My old Excursion burned on all 10 anyway, and got an easy 20% worse highway mileage than the 8 cylinder I have now, but I'd get great highway mileage on level ground if it ran on only 4 to 6, which is all it really needs to overcome wind, and kicked in the other 4 to 6 only when I hit a hill, a wind, or need to pass.

    This idea is perfectly capable, as one can see, of stretching out the mileage of a heavy SUV without compromising torque by anywhere from 20% to 50%, without requiring a half-ton of batteries, a huge electrical motor, an electrical recovery system like that of the Prius, and so on. One could implement it "tomorrow" upon doing the absolutely straightforward engineering of the cylinder pairs, and if one made them modular one could fix another great evil of automobile manufacture, the fact th

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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