Archive for hybrid

The hybrid retrofit kit

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Green Tech with tags , , on 27/11/2012 by Alexander

Years ago, a bit of news popped up on an idea that allowed any normal car to be fitted with electric motors and a battery, essentially turning it into a hybrid. More news surfaced recently, but it seems no one was paying attention. Now all all I want to know is how long until it’s available and will it come to where I live. Thanks.

Tips for car manufacturers to stop being prats

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Green Tech with tags , , , , , on 08/07/2011 by Alexander

Last post, I went out of my way to recommend gas turbines as a new avenue of research for car engines, though I understand why most car manufacturers would prefer not to go down that path just now, as I mentioned right at the end. Fair enough.

However, as I keep saying, auto makers drag their feet when it comes to pushing greener technology, and there’s a lot more that could be done. And I’m not talking about developing a certain technology that will take years to be available, I refer to currently available and feasible solutions that aren’t as widespread as they should be.

So here’s some free tips for you people who build cars:

  • Make start/stop tech standard on every car you sell, every model, every trim level. If it works on either a gigantic Porsche Panamera engine or a 1.6 diesel, it can work in any car on any engine. If this was done now, the staggering amount of emissions cut and fuel saved at every traffic light in the world would, respectively, cut carbon levels as if Genghis Khan were alive and save motorists so much money at the pump it would end the recession.
  • Regenerative braking standard on all models, engines, trim-levels, etc. Every time you brake, you generate some of the power necessary to get moving again. BMW and Volvo are already planning to introduce this, but only on some cars. Consequences? See above.
  • Make all petrol engines factory-prepared for bioethanol/E85. You might argue it’s a dead-end fuel that didn’t catch on when it had the chance, but that’s because manufacturers like Ford and Volvo didn’t push it hard enough when they started selling cars with engines that could run on E85. If that were the case, people in general would take more interest, suss the advantages for themselves and start to create more market for it. In consequence, more fuel pumps would sell the stuff and governments would be forced to clear up the related legislation. Besides, when Brazil and China become the only countries in the world with money left, the Brazilians will start hocking their ethanol fuel like there’s no tomorrow. So let’s start getting prepared right now.
  • Where are the hybrids in every range of every brand? If a lone IBM engineer can turn any car into a hybrid, how come car companies, who will probably spend millions in R&D for a new paint colour, don’t seem to be able to fathom how to do this?. All you have to do is stick some electric motors in the hubs of wheels! How hard can it be?!

And car manufacturers, all of this should have been done yesterday. So chop-chop.

Dream garage #8 – Fisker Karma

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Desirable machines, Dream garage, Green Tech with tags , , on 10/01/2011 by Alexander


How can someone not want this car? It’s ticks all the boxes. Gorgeous-looking? Check. Goes like stink? Check. Low-emissions and high fuel economy? Check. I can’t believe this car hasn’t been thought of sooner. However, nothing’s perfect and it does have its drawbacks. It’s large, it’s expensive, and most of all, it’s late. The long wait that many future Karma owners have had to endure must be frustrating, but I’m guessing it will be worth it. Personally, I find it to be a current automotive pinnacle, unless there’s some other terrible flaw Fisker hasn’t told anyone about.

Another interesting bit to dwell upon is the interior design. I’ll be honest, the design is some two years old now, and for cars, that’s a long time. Car cabins get nicer and nicer as time progresses, and even cheap cars get very interesting-looking innards. Despite that, it does look cool, and reminds me of minimalist Volvo interior designs, which are fabulous. And there’s more, and I’ll quote directly from the Wikipedia article:

The base model features an “eco-friendly interior”, including salvaged lumber from fires or even from lake bottoms. Optional leather seating is available, but it will use much more of the cow hide than would customarily be found on luxury models—hides with scratches and other mars (which should not affect functionality) will be used.

This is something other brands should exploit, and I’d go further. The insistence on leather is pathetic, with less glitzy but far more cosy materials getting an ill-deserved reputation as not being sufficiently upmarket. I covered this in my other blog (previous to the creation of this one, and it’s a good article, IMHO, so I might re-publish it here), and though Fisker’s alternative isn’t perfect because it still involves skinning our poor innocent bovine friends, but it’s better than mainstream approaches.

Returning to another downside, the price, one can’t help but think what kind of market segment Fisker is aiming for. Rich fat-cats who have the money for this sort of car usually go for high-end BMWs, Mercs and Jags. Then again, I think this car might be able to steal some of the usual expensive-sedan clientèle. It’s much better-looking, goes as fast (or nearly as fast) as M5’s and AMG’s and the sort, while getting amazing mileage. This last bit will appeal to Johnny Aristocrat since he’ll have to make less stops at the pump (where he has to mingle with riff-raff), and to other German Big Three car owning-posers, who can hardly afford the thing (and got a diesel to try to save a bit on fuel).

That said, the Karma’s success depends on impressing this niche of the market. It has to look fashionable and status-sporting, and current widespread Top Gear-like mentality is anathema to this. I wish the Karma all the success in the world, and leads the way for other beautiful, fuel-sipping cars.

P.S. Sorry, no more galleries for my Dream Car Garage. Very time-consuming, and time is something I don’t have.

Alt Fuel #7 – Hybrid Retrofitting

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , on 02/08/2009 by Alexander

For those who have no idea of what retrofitting means, this consists of adapting current cars to have electric motors in two or four of the wheels of their car. I wrote about it in my other blog, but I won’t go further into the introduction of this technology otherwise we’ll delve too far into the pros and cons.

Pros:
– Should this catch on, we’re looking at a pretty quick solution to cut car-emissions drastically. An inventor of one such recent solution, Dr. Charles Perry, estimates this technology can save “120 million gallons (around 450 million litres) of fuel per day” in the United States alone, if fitted to all cars.
– Will make running a car much, much cheaper for the individual driver.
– Like LPG, a fantastic way of avoiding mass-trashing of current petrol and diesel cars.
– Unlike LPG, it doesn’t depend on fossil fuel.
– All of the above makes it the most likely candidate for the next widespread eco-solution for cars.
– Makes factory-made hybrids even sillier to look at.

Cons:
– A tad expensive. Dr. Perry estimates it’ll cost from $3000 to $5000 (€2100-€3500) to convert a car. This isn’t like buying a new hybrid car over a petrol one. This is a large investment. And if you take into account an expensive LPG conversion costs around €2000, this can be money that will take a long time get back in fuel savings.
– This won’t be applicable to every car. If their too heavy, the electric motors may very well lack the oomph to get the car going. Also won’t be applicable to cars with adjustable suspension or special brakes.
Poulsen Hybrids is a currently converting cars using this solution. Pity the conversion, is expensive, US-only, and makes the car look like it’s handicapped.
– Dr. Perry’s solution is due to become available only in three years. This is bad. We need this technology either today, or next week, tops.
– Battery packs will fill the boot. Not good, as pointed out in the entry on LPG.
– Doesn’t dispense the need for fossil fuels, it only diminishes it. This can be solved by the other solutions for ICE fuel.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel

Alt Fuel #1 – Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , on 18/07/2009 by Alexander

Everyone harps on about the Toyota Prius as the hybrid (though the Honda Insight is stealing some of its thunder), though there’s more and more choice of alternatives as time goes by. And thank God for that.

Pros:
– Very economical and very autonomous. Or so they say.
– Quickly evolving and becoming more and more widespread.
– With the arrival of plug-in hybrids, there are a whopping three possible sources of power for the car: the local power grid; the petrol pump; the car’s own motion. And that’s brilliant.

Cons:
– The current ambassador of hybrids is the Toyota Prius. I say “Hybrid” and your mind pictures a Prius. This is very bad. The Prius is stupidly ugly (by far, one of the ugliest cars ever on the road), unsexy, and undesirable. If it was conventionally-fuelled, you’d be embarrassed to drive one and people will point and laugh at such a ridiculous-looking car. Honda’s hybrid and those Lexus cars are just as bad and still blandly awful in that unavoidable Japanese way.
– If not driven properly, a hybrid can be as consuming and pollutant as any other normal non-hybrid. Then again, this is true of absolutely any car, as idiot portuguese drivers like to demonstrate every day, so this point is a bit moot.
– Still a tad expensive for what you get, though let’s face it, you’ll probably compensate in fuel savings in no time, so another moot point.
– Autonomy can be improved but only with modding and tuning.
– No more home repairs. You can change the oil and the sparkplugs yourself, but anything electrical and it’s off to the brand garage.
– A shiny brand new hybrid is expensive, as I’ve said. But couple that to the fact people will probably be throwing away their old petrol cars en masse. It doesn’t matter how many scrappage incentive programmes you try, there are lots of non-recyclable components to cars that will accumulate massively if there are too many cars being junked.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel

Alt-fuel – Intro

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 17/07/2009 by Alexander

One of my favourite ever posts in my now-gone old blog was a post on the different types of fuel that were cropping up at the time. The idea was to enumerate all the pros and cons of each fuel to try to imagine what will be powering our cars in a decade or so. We are at a crossroads, with some brands pushing for hybrids, others plug-in hybrids, others hydrogen, others bioethanol, etc., etc., etc.. This was all especially pertinent back when oil prices were whopping and filling your tank meant selling one of your children. Now those prices have gone down and everyone’s reeling at the money the financial system sucked into nothingness, and it would seem people have stopped worrying about what it costs to fill their tank and what alternatives are out there to make this less painful on your wallet. Or at least it seems that way for the time being, but will change now prices are rising yet again. However, the ball was set rolling, and slowly, the normally aloof masses are becoming aware of cheaper and more enviromentally-friendly ways to run their automobiles. So let me repeat a now-lost post and give you my idea on what the alternatives are. We’ll get cracking in the next post.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel

Super-frugal C6

Posted in Desirable machines, Green Tech, News with tags , , on 16/07/2009 by Alexander

On one hand, it’s a pity this blog is so new as to this particular bit of news seeming out of the blue. On the other hand, this will give any possible readers a gist of what should be expected of this blog.

Citroën will be producing a super-economical version of the C6 (my favourite production car, as you’ll see in a future Dream Garage post). It will sport a 163-hp turbodiesel engine with a start-stop system, and electric motors in the rear wheels (instead of suspension, which doesn’t sound so good).

Only problem is that this may just be a concept, and not a production car. For me it would be a dream come true: the beauty of the C6 in a low-consuming eco-package.