Make Your Car a Plug-in Hybrid

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted August 6, 2012

There’s really no arguing it – gasoline is pricey. Even if you don’t drive long distances frequently – even if all of your driving consists of day-to-day errands – the cost of filling up the gas tank can add up quickly.

The average gas price in the U.S. last week was $3.50. If you visit the gas station every week and a half with a 13-gallon tank, in a year you would have spent $1,547 on gas.

Of course, that’s just the national average. In some parts of the country, gas prices are higher.

And maybe your car’s gas mileage is low. Maybe you visit the gas station even more frequently than that.

Either way, you’re sacrificing a lot to get around.

Some people have given up their cars in favor of more efficient electric vehicles or hybrids. This reduces emissions and the amount spent at the pump, but electric vehicles have a very limited range, and both types of cars can be too pricey to outweigh the benefits.

Other people take more handy approaches to try to improve fuel economy, like adding fuel injection cleaners to their fuel injectors. This can only do so much, however, and it rarely has a significant impact on fill-ups.

But what if there were a way to keep your car and improve its mileage by as much as 100%?

Now, there could be.

Researchers at Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Engineering Technology, led by Professor Charles Perry, have developed a plug-in hybrid retrofit kit.

The kit is designed to attach to the wheel hub while DC brushless motors are attached to the inner rear wheel brakes. In the back, a lithium ion phosphate battery powers the electric traction.

Charles Perry describes how the technology works:

“What happens is we add electric traction to the car, install a battery in the trunk with its controls, and the car becomes a plug-in hybrid. That’s right – any car can become a plug-in hybrid.”

As he says in the video below, the kit is specifically designed for those day-to-day errands. Perry cites a statistic that says 80% of U.S. drivers drive 40 miles or less at an average speed of 45 miles an hour or less daily.

It was this 80% Perry had in mind when designing the kit. It’s not ideal for highway driving, as the electric traction will switch off when the car reaches a certain speed.

But if you spend most of your time in the car driving on town or city streets going less than 40 miles, you could spend much less at the pump with this technology.

From The Huffington Post:

“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 said in a statement.

The technology was tested on a 1994 Honda station wagon, and it was able to increase the car’s gas mileage between 50% and 100%.

And the real draw of the technology is the fact that it could be applied to nearly any car. It cuts out the major cost of buying a new car to receive similar improvements.

The research estimated that if the kit is produced commercially (and it’s being shown off to investors now), it will have a price tag around $3,000. It would still take a little saving up, but it’s better than trading in your old-yet-functional car for a shiny new hybrid.

Charles Perry details the function of the kit in this video:

Imagine filling up your gas tank 50% less. If you only have to visit the gas station every three weeks with that 13 gallon tank, you could recover the cost of the kit in under four years.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

That’s all for now,

Brianna Panzica

follow basic@brianna_panzica on Twitter

Energy & Capital’s modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends.

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