Do you want a hybrid Honda Fit? Or how about a hybrid Passat, or Yaris, or Cobalt, or....Yeah. Too bad. While the number of hybrids available is certainly increasing, there are just a lot of cars we can't get as hybrids, and we're just going to have to deal with that.
Or are we? A UK company has revealed a retro-fit hybrid conversion kit that has the potential to cut exhaust emissions in existing cars by nearly 40%, and improve fuel economy by 60%. The system, developed by the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA), features a removable battery pack, arranged into three portable 30kW cassettes, which upgrade existing "conventional" vehicles into hybrids.
The technology, currently being demonstrated on a Skoda Fabia, allows the car to run as a plug-in hybrid. In practice, it means the battery can be recharged via the gasoline engine, or by removing the battery pack and charging it through the mains. The rear wheels are driven by two 30 kW (50bhp) motors, while the petrol engine drives the front ones, effectively turning your car into a 4WD. Regenerative braking appears to be not included.
According to MIRA, the test model achieves an average of 64mpg (up from 39mpg), while top speed and acceleration remain similar to a standard Fabia. While this certainly isn't as impressive as the Hymotion plug-in conversion kit for the Prius, it is cheaper (probably only $4,000) and can be installed in any front-wheel-drive car.
Speaking about the new project, Derek Charters, advanced power train manager at MIRA said, “You can obtain electricity from your domestic provider far cheaper and greener than from a car engine, so plug-in hybrids make sense.
“With this project, we’ve removed the main limitation of the plug-in hybrid by allowing the battery pack to come to the mains, rather than having to park right next to a socket, which is difficult if you live in a terraced house or flat.”
Unfortunately, MIRA hasn’t yet set a date for putting the technology into production. However, providing the new system is affordable and easy to install, there’s a compelling case for launching it in the market as soon as possible. Watch this space for more.
written by Jim, April 30, 2008
written by Dave Spicer, May 06, 2008
|< Prev||Next >|