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A Hybrid Car With Detachable Engine Proposed

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the plug-n-play dept.

Transportation 218

thecarchik writes "The SCI hyMod five-door minicar concept is the brainchild of a Romanian team made up of an engineer, a designer, and an automotive journalist. It uses what its designers call a 'dedicated logistics center' for the transformation from electric to gas-powered, in which the back end of the car containing a battery pack is removed, and replaced with one containing a gasoline engine module that drives the rear wheels. In normal urban use, the battery pack powers an electric motor that drives the front wheels. The hyMod combines elements of range-extended electric cars like the Fisker Karma and the Volt, plus a tiny, compact range extender, and perhaps even the Better Place automated battery-pack swap station."

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218 comments

What is the matter with car companies (3, Insightful)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491373)

I just want a vehicle that runs electric and if I'm running low on amps has a small generator to drive it and recharge the batteries.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491405)

So a Volt?

Or is its generator too big for you?

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491537)

Aha, but the Volt would be running low on its 16 kilowatts, not amperes!

Re:What is the matter with car companies (2)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491625)

from the chevy web site:
Volt is unique among electric vehicles because you have two sources of energy. You have an electric source–a battery–that allows you to drive gas–free for an EPA–estimated 35 miles. And there's also an onboard gas generator that produces electricity so you can go up to a total of 375 miles on a full tank of gas

It's 20+ miles each way to work, and I can go 360 miles on a tank in my 7 year old hyundai.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491909)

I agree, it's not that impressive. I think it comes down to power to weight ratio, they're trying to put too much stuff in like having the petrol engine be able to directly power the wheels, this adds to the complexity and weight of the vehicle and the range suffers. I do not understand why they haven't made a hybrid with a small (1 litre) efficient diesel engine that *only* kicks in to charge the batteries when they hit half charge. At all other times you could use EV mode and have it plug in at home and work. I drive 12km to work and 12km home every day, a plug in car would spend most of its time on battery until the weekend at my place. European diesel cars are already more efficient than some petrol/electric hybrids, so I can't see why they aren't trying to use the same sort of engine, tuned for maximum efficiency, to charge the battery as required.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491969)

Series hybrids pay for that in long-range performance, since you go engine -> generator -> motor continuously. The whole point of the Prius and other parallel designs is to eliminate that engine -> generator loss when you can.

The basic problem with what you (and indeed others) want is that it's not really possible to make appreciable weight-savings on the type of engine you'd need to make the series system practical, and you need more batteries to make the efficiency over the short-haul worth it.

What we really need is a practical, portable solid-oxide fuel cell that can use regular petrol - since then you're looking at 80% direct electrical efficiency, and a greatly reduced number of moving parts (and avoiding the need for a generator at all).

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492059)

That generator loss is less than 3%. Far less than the transmission in the Toyota unit. The real reason Toyota doesn't put a big electric motor in the Prius is because the batteries driving it are expensive.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492319)

We need materials with a high strength to weight ratio for use in hybrids, not just plastic and steel, but also titanium and composites [carbonfibergear.com] .

Re:What is the matter with car companies (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492441)

I do not understand why they haven't made a hybrid with a small (1 litre) efficient diesel engine that *only* kicks in to charge the batteries when they hit half charge.

Why a diesel? If you decouple the power source (as opposed to power storage) from the wheels, you don't need torque/rpm flexibility and can switch to an efficient constant RPM engine.

If you like the idea, you could try the Jaguar C-X75, though it only has 778hp. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_C-X75 [wikipedia.org]

Otherwise, they're looking at developing similar systems for more serious cars: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/02/jaguar-developing-jet-powered-hybrid/ [wired.com]

Re:What is the matter with car companies (3, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493243)

Why a diesel? If you decouple the power source (as opposed to power storage) from the wheels, you don't need torque/rpm flexibility and can switch to an efficient constant RPM engine.

...Like a diesel generator? 50% thermal efficiency instead of petrol/gasoline's 30%. And longer engine lifespan as a bonus.

Lots of hybrid watchers have been asking for diesel-electric plug-in hybrids since the Prius became chic.

(Apparently part of the problem is the US doesn't have proper national standards for diesel quality.)

Volt, w/ smaller engine, bigger battery? (1)

calgar99 (856142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492939)

I'm not sure if this is what you're describing, but what would happen if you did such a thing to the Volt: put in a tiny little gas/diesel engine instead of its comparatively larger one... and make the battery pack bigger? Have the engine kick in when batteries hit 50%. I'm guessing that if you go too small with the gas engine, your driving would outpace the recoup from the gas engine. But... would that be a big deal? So what, you'd have gas left in your tank and you can't drive... ultimately you'd get less than 375 miles per single road trip... but you'd get a heck of a lot more distance than 35 miles, right? (Anyone good at math able to figure out a sweet spot?)

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493159)

I think it comes down to power to weight ratio... ...I do not understand why they haven't made a hybrid with a small (1 litre) efficient diesel engine that *only* kicks in to charge the batteries when they hit half charge.

Jaguar currently has a rather interesting hybrid concept car with a generator hooked to a turbine. Kind of interesting as a proof of concept. See here. [popularmechanics.com] One problem is that the turbine engine is a lot less efficient than the diesel engine, but you kind of make up for it in weight savings. Turbines weigh very little compared to a diesel. Obviously, this is not a daily driver, but hopefully they learn some stuff from just building it and it pays off.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492825)

If you drive in stop and go traffic for those 20 miles or if you use a lot of surface streets, where you stop and start often, you can easily get that 40+ miles a day out of the Volt's battery. If you get on the freeway and keep the car going 80+ mph for 20 miles then you will get something less than the EPA estimated 35 miles per charge.

"I can go 360 miles on a tank in my 7 year old hyundai"

On the 12+ gallons in the hyundai's tank. The Volt has a 9 gallon tank. You do the math, or don't, but understand that you will be paying more for the energy to make your commute than a Volt driver would.

The Volt is far from perfect but definitely a step in the right direction. The drive technology aside, the Volt is a comfortable car that drives well - even if it was driven directly by an ICE it would be a decent car. The Volt is packed with features, most of them standard equipment. You pay a premium to get the electric drive train, for now but that will change. The Volt isn't the best electric car and isn't the best ICE car, it is somewhere in between and it works.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

calgar99 (856142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493001)

Right, and if you drive 20+ miles gas-free each day, then you're getting more than 375 miles per tank. People forget that 375 is the total of one non-stop drive from fully topped off to fully emptied.

If you get on the freeway and keep the car going 80+ mph for 20 miles then you will get something less than the EPA estimated 35 miles per charge.

If you're driving 80 MPH and you drive 80 miles, how long will it take you? (Sorry, had to!)

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492915)

So in your Hyundai you can go to/from work 18 times on a tank and in a volt you could go to/from work 73 times on one tank of gas, assuming you plug it in at home.
Not too shabby.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493119)

from the chevy web site: Volt is unique among electric vehicles because you have two sources of energy. You have an electric source–a battery–that allows you to drive gas–free for an EPA–estimated 35 miles. And there's also an onboard gas generator that produces electricity so you can go up to a total of 375 miles on a full tank of gas

It's 20+ miles each way to work, and I can go 360 miles on a tank in my 7 year old hyundai.

35 miles on battery, with gasoline to get you the rest of the way with a Volt, vs 50 miles on battery in Nissan Leaf before you're stranded. [jalopnik.com]

With your 40 mile round-trip to work, you'd use 5 miles worth of gas in a Volt daily, and with a 375 mile gas tank that means you'd fill up every 75 days, or about 5 times a year.

Think I'd just fill up 5 times a year myself.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492231)

except the volt has both "motors" hooked to the wheels and is in no ways a pure series hybrid

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492777)

The Volt is really a gas car with an electric transmission and a large battery pack. Instead of a mechanical transmission, it uses a generator and motor to convert power from the gas engine to the wheels in the most efficient manner possible. But the highest gear is 1:1, so it links the engine straight to the wheels to cut the losses in the electrical system. The battery add significant utility because it lets you use the high efficiency of the electric motor at low speeds without using any gas. It makes perfect sense if what you want is the best of both worlds, electric and gas: the torque and efficiency at low speeds and grid-powered operation of electric car, and the torque and power at high speeds and long range of a gas car. All this comes with a price, but you have to understand what you are getting for it.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492899)

Volt is a petrol car with an auxilliary electric motor. I'd prefer it the other way around - an electric car with a tiny (~30hp), compact and light petrol engine. The engine wouldn't even have to be efficient, it doesn't matter because I'd use it twice a year only to extend the range from 100 miles to ~300 miles. The point is to *slow down* discharging the battery, and not to drive on petrol only. And since the energy produced by the engine would go straight to the electric motor (and not to the battery and back) that alone would save some power.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491409)

I was just wondering how long it would take to hear from the "this isn't exactly what I want therefore I don't see why it would be of use to anyone" brigade.

I would have thought the applications for this were obvious. Someone with a short commute during the week sticks to electric. For the road trip to the mountains at the weekend he swaps in the petrol engine.

Not rocket science.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1, Troll)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491431)

I drive 175 miles each way to work, towing my boat, the path is across pike's peak.
Well this vehicle do that? No? Junk...

Re:What is the matter with car companies (4, Insightful)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491623)

On an average, Americans drive about 25 miles each way. So for the vast majority of Americans this should work. And yeah, if the vehicle does not suit you, the only thing it can be is junk, right?

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

Formalin (1945560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492227)

Whoosh. (well, at least I hope the GP is joking).

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39493289)

EPIC WHOOOSHHHH!

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491843)

While I don't know your situation and obviously this vehicle isn't designed for you. I've got to ask why you don't move? a 300+ mi commute is far from trivial it'd make me consider a place closer to work to avoid that.

It could easily save a fortune for you in fuel do so.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (5, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491545)

I was just wondering how long it would take to hear from the "this isn't exactly what I want therefore I don't see why it would be of use to anyone" brigade.

Hmmmm... If you need it that badly there is an easier way than lurking on Slashdot waiting for them to strike:

1) Turn on your TV.
2) Switch to Fox News.
3) Keep watching until you have gotten your fix of "this isn't exactly what I want therefore I don't see why it would be of use to anyone" chatter.
4) Turn off your TV.

Repeat as often as your addiction requires.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491587)

That was an imaginative way to disparage Fox News!

Re:What is the matter with car companies (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491601)

Yes, because no other news networks cater to their particular audience at the expense of any real journalism.

If you want real news, you need to go out an find it for yourself. If the internets taught us anything it's that what the media has been feeding us for the past couple of hundred years was carefully orchestrated to sell us more news... not provide the news we needed.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492187)

I have another can of False Equivalency for you, if you need to charge up.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492341)

Careful, it's next to the can of whoop ass, wouldn't want to open the wrong one.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39493211)

For many years Western journalists and professors have noted that the introduction of modern technology into primitive cultures has serious repercussions. It does not always work out well for their culture. Perhaps we should perform this analysis on ourselves.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (3, Insightful)

mijxyphoid (1872142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491649)

I was just wondering how long it would take to hear from the "this isn't exactly what I want therefore I don't see why it would be of use to anyone" brigade.

I would have thought the applications for this were obvious. Someone with a short commute during the week sticks to electric. For the road trip to the mountains at the weekend he swaps in the petrol engine.

Not rocket science.

Its hard to get owners to check basic maintenance requirements such as fluid levels, tyre pressures, and warning lights on instrument clusters.

To get an owner to swap an engine out is a HUGE leap from that.
Even if the process was made as simple, and painless as possible, there are a lot of car owners that wont even take a car for routine maintenance until the car fails, and requires costly repairs.

Taking a car to a garage for even minor work can be painful exercise in terms of taking time of work, having no transport whilst the car is off the road, costs involved, and the anxiety that the mechanic could be a complete idiot, and screw something up, or damage the car.

Unfortunately, I cannot see this ever becoming mainstream, even though the idea is very very sound.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

jemmyw (624065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492489)

Yeah but imagine you could put the electric engine in and take the gas engine to the garage and leave it there for repairs while still having the electric portion.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491713)

Then you are at work and a loved in a few towns over is taken to hospital in serious condition. You now have to drive home or to the swap station, swap modules and drive to the hospital.

Another more likely scenario is that you get to work and find that your daughter forgot to plug the car in last night after she used it and you didn't notice it battery level when you left home. Why was it plugged in when you went to work? Because your daughter remembered in the morning and plugged the car in trying to avoid the issue and hoping there was enough power left in the car.

The need for longer range is not always planned.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492135)

Not rocket science.

no, but it is the King Missile car... i mean, given how cars frequently fulfill needs caused by napoleon complexes...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detachable_Penis [wikipedia.org]

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492263)

It can be if there is a rocket module!

That said, it's a question of hassle and efficiency. Engines are not exactly light weight, they are heavy, and clunky things are would have to be "installed." Not exactly something most people are want to deal with, in comparison, there exists cars uses electric drivetrain with both battery and a generator. How much more efficient is it having it as modules compared to just carrying the extra weight? A 100lbs isn't too much of a difference (5% decrease in efficiency?) while having to physically exchange 2 60-100lbs objects is pretty difficult for most people.

People who need to drive long distances occasionally definitely wouldn't deal with such hassle while rare drivers are better off served with rental cars.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492321)

My first thought was, typically when I go out of town I have the kids and need the mini-van. Thus this vehicle would be perfect for our second car, which typically only gets driven around town. Instead of owning the combustion portion, why not rent it the time or two a year I would need it? That seems like a better use of resources to me.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492433)

If swapping in the petrol engine takes a whole day, it aint gonna be useful to anyone.

It really does depend on the process to switch engines, and how convenient/time consuming it is, not to mention how much it costs.

If its cheaper to just own 2 cars, guess which option people would rather?

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492527)

Rocket science eh? Now that'd give it some real HP's.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492665)

Well, the application is obvious. The question is, would it sell?

Concepts like this make sense, but it's really outside the way people think. I have my electric car which serves it's purpose for 99% of my driving. But, God Forbid, what happens if my mother who lives 300 miles away suddenly is in the hospital and I have to rush to her bedside!? I have to first go to the engine-swap place and sit and wait while they swap my car's engine and she could die while I'm waiting and I'd never get to tell her how much I love her!

Or what happens when I have a great job that is close to my house so I can drive on batteries. But I get laid off or these other people are willing to pay me more money, but they're too far to drive on batteries?

Nope. Better get a gasoline car.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491415)

So how far/fast do you want to go on electric and on the generator? And how many seats does your car need?

As much as I'd like a small car for city/suburban use in USA, it's going to be heavy as long as it has to pass the US crash standards. Or will you accept a 3-wheeler that is registered as a motorcycle (no crash requirements)?

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491473)

It's called the Chevy Volt, which does exactly what you describe.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491589)

I just want a vehicle that runs electric and if I'm running low on amps has a small generator to drive it and recharge the batteries.

And carry all that extra weight around? (generator + fuel)

I'd rather just carry around a power cord.

Power Cord (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491791)

Which is really going to help you 20 miles out of town when you are nowhere neal a power outlet.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492095)

http://gm-volt.com/full-specifications/ [gm-volt.com]
9.3 gallons of gas at 7.48lb per gallon is about 69.54 lb.
And an inline 4 engine with 85.3 cu. displacement probably does not weigh more than 200 lb.
I think Chevy claims all related systems for the combustion engine weigh 700 lb.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492397)

Well, anything that can reasonably power a > 3000lb car up a freeway hill will be much more than 200lbs. Why not put a weed eater engine in, then your numbers will look way more impressive.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492649)

Obvious troll but let me indulge you.
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt does NOT have a direct mechanical connection between the engine and wheels. http://gm-volt.com/2010/06/30/combustion-engine-does-not-and-will-not-turn-the-volts-driveshaft-ever-got-it/ [gm-volt.com]
Now off to your bridge.
BTW my brother and I carried the motor and transmission (still bolted together) from my 95 neon about 50 ft. My weight 135lb, my brother 155lb. My neon motor is way bigger than the volt motor so I must be like Superman or something.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492793)

The Volt does have a 1:1 clutch between the drive train and the gas motor. This engages at highway speeds because when you go that fast, the electric motor has much less torque. This is why the Volt always outruns the Leaf when accelerating over 50 mph. But at all other times the gas engine is completely disconnected from the wheels.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493127)

You imply drive train as in a typical vehicle. Where you said drive train you should have said electric motor. Your statement is misleading.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493299)

As the electric motor is connected directly to a conventional drive train any direct connection to it, is a direct connection to the drive train. GPs statement is accurate.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492855)

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt does NOT have a direct mechanical connection between the engine and wheels.

Not a 'direct connection', but the gas engine does, under certain circumstances, help propel the car.
At least that's what the Volt chief engineer says. [plugincars.com]

Re:What is the matter with car companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491755)

The auto makers will never give you a true series hybrid. Instead, they will continue to offer many high priced overly complex, inefficient, and high maintenance parallel hybrids (The volt is a parallel hybrid despite market claims. transmission/direct ICS propulsion = bad = parallel hybrid).

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492423)

O.K., so I've run the "convert my Miata to electric power" thought-game a few too many times, and what I almost invariably come up with is:

Stage 1, nice powerful electric motor with enough electrical energy storage to run maybe 20 minutes at full output, or just enough to get to work and back with a comfortable reserve. Plug-in recharge for the daily commute.

Stage 2, for longer trips, fuel powered generator (anything from a nasty cheap generator from Northern Tool, to a small turbine APU [turbinefun.com] ) mounted on a trailer - feeds power while traveling.

Works great for the daily commute, can make long trips, and is even better for motorsports because you detach the trailer when you arrive at the track and you don't have to carry a bunch of unneeded battery capacity around with you while racing.

Of course, it looks goofy as hell with the trailer attached, and you'll need a LoJack on the trailer because it's such a tempting theft target.

Re:What is the matter with car companies (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493043)

Never going to happen. Watch Who Killed The Electric Car. Cars with only one moving part lack the service requirements and will never be sold by the existing car companies.

Just look at A Better Place (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491413)

Replacing the batteries is far simpler than removing an entire engine. Since A Better Place has gotten very little traction for their electric car with replaceable batteries concept, I don't see how this would go anywhere either.

Re:Just look at A Better Place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491593)

Replacing the batteries is far simpler than removing an entire engine. Since A Better Place has gotten very little traction for their electric car with replaceable batteries concept, I don't see how this would go anywhere either.

Yes, but if the engine is not detachable... how can you steal it? Without stealing and corruption, how can the Romania's economy still work?

Re:Just look at A Better Place (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491703)

A Better Place has gotten very little traction for their electric car with replaceable batteries concept...

Better Place is starting to look like a scam. They've been at this for five years now, have raised $700 million, and haven't deployed anything other than demos. Shai Agassi talks a good game, (I've heard him speak) but doesn't deliver. Better Place has been making Real Soon Now announcements since 2008, but nothing happens other than demos with heavy PR.

Recharging is still a big problem. Tesla put in enough charging stations from SF to LA to allow making that trip. But it takes an hour of charging per 50 miles of driving.

Re:Just look at A Better Place (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491825)

So eve if the top speed is 80mph the average speed is 40. Yeah, I would really want to drive from SF to LA at 40mph.

Re:Just look at A Better Place (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492845)

They've delivered about 100 Renault Fluence ZEs in Israel, mostly to employees, and are nearly the official launch. They've deployed dozens of switch stations there, plus more in Denmark and lots of charge spots in several countries. And switch stations are designed to specifically address the recharging problem. Now it's possible that the venture will fail but that doesn't make it a scam.

Re:Just look at A Better Place (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491767)

The lack of take up probably has several reasons;
1. Different battery specifications for different vehicles.
2. The need to conform the battery to the dimensions of the vehicle.
3. The additional hardware required to make a large heavy battery swappable.
4. The reluctance of some people to give up their batter for an unknown battery.

We can not even get standard cell phone batteries let alone standard electric car batteries.

Re:Just look at A Better Place (1)

drago177 (150148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492313)

The lack of take up probably has several reasons;
1. Different battery specifications for different vehicles.
2. The need to conform the battery to the dimensions of the vehicle.
3. The additional hardware required to make a large heavy battery swappable.
4. The reluctance of some people to give up their batter for an unknown battery.

We can not even get standard cell phone batteries let alone standard electric car batteries.

All excellent points. And one reason should go above the ones you mention:
0. Huge initial investment of charging stations. What is the cost to retrofit a gas station, or worse build a new changing station ala A Better Place?

However, I've always imagined something similar: Why don't all PHEV's have a 2nd battery - the size of your standard 12volt? You're in a hurry & out of gas. You stop at a gas station, plug your car in. Pop the hood and use a key to unlock 2nd battery. Pull it out and take it to the counter. Your battery gets promptly scanned and plugged in, on a shelf in the back. The battery your given might be in better or worse shape than yours was, but with a little diagnostics, it's all transparent and you might get a credit, or pay extra. Go back to your car and plug it in. You've now wasted 8min of your life, just long enough for the rapid charge to go from 05% to 37% on your main battery. The 2nd one you plug in bumps it up to 47%, and that's plenty to get you home, peace of mind included.
What? You're too lazy/weak/rich to do the manual labor? A $5 charge ($15 rush hr) gets the gas station attendant to do it for you.

The key here is that gas stations need to see a profit, with minimal initial expense. We're talking about a shelf that requires almost 0 change in infrastructure, and just one startup replacement battery (if they see profit with it, they can buy more). The spec would have to be agreed upon or mandated, but this fractional implementation of the Better Place idea would (practically) solve #0, #1, #2, and help with #3 and #4. The down side is that the upside is slashed, but I believe there is a market of people who are in too much of a hurry to wait for the fast-charge to complete.

Re:Just look at A Better Place (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492719)

There are a couple of issues with your solution;
Battery capacity; For example the Mitsubishi i-MiEV have a 16kWhr battery. 32% of that would be 5.1kWhr. How can you pack that much power in a battery the size of a 12V?
Charge time; Batteries are not fuel tanks you can't just dump energy into a battery instantaneously. The faster you try charging a battery the hotter the battery gets and the shorter the battery life. Dumping 5.1kWhw of energy into a batter pack takes a lot longer than 8 minutes..

Re:Just look at A Better Place (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491851)

If you're going to have part of the car detach you may as well take the back seat at the same time and save more weight. You drive your 2 seat electric to/from work all week, then swap in your station wagon back end with gas motor for the weekend cruise through the mountains.

Re:Just look at A Better Place (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493061)

But why has it gotten so little traction? It is a brilliant idea, but Detroit suffers, badly I might add, from NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome. There are tons of awesome motor technologies, batteries, engines, & etc but status quo trumps all forms of though. Just look at what GM did to the Impreza and the Legacy, because they didn't invent them they redesigned them to be the same shit they were peddling elsewhere.

Too much hassle. (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491465)

Swapping would still be less convenient than carrying a generator, and without the generator range would be severely limited.

This is an overly complex solution to a simple problem. Until batteries improve, drive a PHEV.

Re:Too much hassle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491547)

yup simple problems, carrying around 100s of kg in wasted mass. just use more energy, what a simple solution. Fuck you idiot.

Re:Too much hassle. (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491571)

great idea. Instead of using Hydrogen as a fuel, we could cram a bunch into the engine while not in use, so it doesnt weight quite so much.

Re:Too much hassle. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491689)

But I look at how we use our minivan. On a normal day it never goes more than 50 miles. But then a few times per year we pack up everything and drive up to 800 miles in a day. This could work for us.

What I really think makes the most sense is owning a car for normal uses (an electric minivan for us) and renting something else for trips. But for some reason, renting a large vehicle is crazy expensive. For example, renting a E350 van from Avis is almost 3 times (2.8 to be precise) as expensive as an Impala, even though the MSRP is very close ($32K vs $27K, about 20% more for the van).

Re:Too much hassle. (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491907)

1- Detroit builds a van by taking a car and stretching it. The resultant vehicle is overloaded on all the key parts, and therefore has a fraction of the lifespan of the original car. 2-vans get rented less, so you charge more to cover costs. 3-vans are considered luxury so you can charge more. 4- fewer rental places carry vans so less competition means you can charge more.

Re:Too much hassle. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493189)

1- Detroit builds a van by taking a car and stretching it. The resultant vehicle is overloaded on all the key parts, and therefore has a fraction of the lifespan of the original car

What? The Ford e350 has 80% of the US market for full-sized vans and a GVWR of 14,500 lbs (over triple the vehicle's own weight). They build school buses, ambulances, and motorhomes on that platform.

Anyways the same is true of any large vehicle, e.g. Suburban. I agree it must be a vicious cycle between high price and low demand.

Re:Too much hassle. (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492019)

But for some reason, renting a large vehicle is crazy expensive.

It's worse than just expensive - it is nearly impossible when everyone gets the same idea. I lived in NYC and had a Zip Car membership. Zip Car was great for running to the store or for visiting a friend for dinner in NJ. But it was simply impossible to get a Zip Car on the weekends in the summer or during holidays... everyone had the same idea! Even trying to rent a regular Avis/Hertz/whatever car got to be crazy expensive during those times. That's because over 90% of the population depends on mass transit, and everyone needs to rent when they want to blow town.

Anyway, I keep looking into electric and hybrid cars, but they just don't make any sense for us - my commute is 20 miles/day and my wife's is 10. I typically drive the minivan because I do the kid pickups and dropoffs, and they don't make an electric version of those yet. Even if they did, the minivan is the car of choice on long trips, so electric would be a no-go. Hybrid may or may not pay off, depending on what the price of gas does.

It would be nice to stop paying Hugo Chavez for oil, though.

Re:Too much hassle. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493201)

You are right about the peak demand problem, I found the same last time I wanted to rent a big SUV (which was of course on a holiday) - all gone. Smaller cars don't really have that problem because they are rented by business travelers, whose demand falls on holidays. Avis will even off you free weekend rentals if you rent with them enough - but of course who wants a rental car for two days over a non-holiday weekend?

Re:Too much hassle. (1)

radaos (540979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491853)

And where is the engine stored when not in use? It'll need a garage, with room to spare, equipped with a hoist.. or require a drive to a storage facility before a journey can even be started? On a more practical note there is now a diesel / electric hybrid, from mainstream car company Peugeot. It has separate drivetrains like the concept car in the article, but uses them to give the option of 2 or 4 wheel drive. http://www.reghardware.com/2012/03/06/preview_peugeot_3008_hybrid4_worlds_first_diesel_electric_hybrid_car/ [reghardware.com]

How about this... (1)

offrdbandit (1331649) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491485)

I propose a hybrid car that fetches breakfast for me before I leave for work in the morning.

There. I've done the hard part. The rest is just engineering, right?

Hmmm... maybe it could fly, too? Let's see how many other asinine pie-in-the-sky iterations can we make on an already terrible idea....

Re:How about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492697)

Detachable Powerplant [youtube.com]

I woke up this morning with a bad hangover
And my powerplant was missing again.
This happens all the time.
It's detachable.
This comes in handy a lot of the time.
I can leave it home, when I think it's gonna get me in trouble,
or I can rent it out, when I don't need it.
But now and then I go to a party, get drunk,
and the next morning I can't for the life of me
remember what I did with it.
First I looked around my apartment, and I couldn't find it.
So I called up the place where the party was,
they hadn't seen it either.
I asked them to check the medicine cabinet
'cause for some reason I leave it there sometimes
But not this time.
So I told them if it pops up to let me know.
I called a few people who were at the party,
but they were no help either.
I was starting to get desperate.
I really don't like being without my powerplant for too long.
It makes me feel like less of a man,
and I really hate having to sit down every time I take a leak.
After a few hours of searching the house,
and calling everyone I could think of,
I was starting to get very depressed,
so I went to the Kiev, and ate breakfast.
Then, as I walked down Second Avenue towards St. Mark's Place,
where all those people sell used books and other junk on the street,
I saw my powerplant lying on a blanket
next to a broken toaster oven.
Some guy was selling it.
I had to buy it off him.
He wanted twenty-two bucks, but I talked him down to seventeen.
I took it home, washed it off,
and put it back in. I was happy again. Complete.
People sometimes tell me I should get it permanently attached,
but I don't know.
Even though sometimes it's a pain in the ass,
I like having a detachable powerplant.

Way too complex (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491573)

That's too complex mechanically. And you have to decide, before you go out, how far you're going.

The Chevy Volt seems to be the right idea in hybrids. It's mostly electric, and solves the "range anxiety" problem. It just costs too much.

Re:Way too complex (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491693)

I like the Jag concept car myself. Hybrid, but powered by two helicopter turbines. Tire ripping torque. Again it costs too much.

I've pretty much always believed that most cars could be improved by stabbing a particular engine into them. I propose redesigning the engine pod for this POS to take a screaming small block chevy (w. zoomie exhaust, because we're smogging it in pure electric mode anyhow). That would be cool.

DIYer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491579)

Still don't get why they can't figure out how to get a generator, or series of generators, to charge the batteries... or even run the car itself.

Stupid idea. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491653)

When you replace the main batter pack the motive power comes from the gasoline engine in stead of a "ange-extended electric car (like the Chevrolet Volt) that carries around the engine when it's not needed you get a gasoline powered car that carries around electric motors and batteries that it does not need (there is a 5kW battery that is not removed when the module is swapped).

There are a few other issues with the concept.
1. Who has the space for the device that swaps the big battery fro the gasoline motor?
2. What do you do if you suddenly need toto drive a longer distance than planned? You would need to go all the way home, swap modules and start out again. That is not very convenient.
3. Central swap stations will never be accepted. Who in their right mine would want to give away their engine or batter pack to receive a different one when you have no idea of the age or maintenance of that pack? Even assurances of proper maintenance would not be enough to make me bite. To even approach my level of comfort, ever engine and batter module would have to be inspected and repaired before I would ever accept it. This would cost a large amount of money and require many spares and some would be out of service waiting for or in the process of repair.
4. Even if the swap station always gave me back my module then point 2 become even broader; Every time I want to drive a longer distance or plans are changed I would need to drive somewhere to pick up my engine. That is not convenient at all. It would be simpler to belong to a car share program.

The beauty of the Volt is that the gasoline engine is always there. It could be change of plans, emergencies, forgetfulness, etc that runs the batter down but there is always a backup. With the module swapping the backup is somewhere else.

Re:Stupid idea. (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491943)

Swap stations work fine if you don't own the battery. Sell the car, rent the battery. Or better yet put induction coils or contacts in the road and charge your little electric commuter while you drive.

You liberals never give up (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491675)

Forgive me for being skeptical of Romanian engineering. They have never even built a good ox cart much less an electric car. What will it take before you liberals realize that electric cars are a lousy idea. Billions in taxpayer money are being wasted on them. I prefer my F150 4x4.

Re:You liberals never give up (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491905)

A F150 is better then no truck at all. I'd have to put a real front axle (and lockers) under it. Different compromises for different driving mixes.

I don't regret switching to my V8 roadster for daily driving. Opens the truck up, for off road use (still not a trailer queen). By deltas I'm greener then a hippy who switched from a GEO metro to a bicycle. (I'm down 1.4 liters in displacement.) I feel so green, I want to take a shower. Perhaps a lower final drive ratio will make me feel better. Certainly a cam will.

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Two things that could make it simpler (2)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491847)

There are two things that could be done to make this simpler, I think.

A. Have the range extender engines be rentals (with deposit), and have them installed for a nominal fee at the rental place. If you don't take trips frequently, this could be a tenable model.
B. Have it be a small trailer, with a very simple hookup that doesn't require complex installation.

Re:Two things that could make it simpler (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492501)

I've always liked "B". Double points for being able to store it on end, outside the garage when not in use. Make sure to balance the trailer well, so it is an easy hookup/move.

Re:Two things that could make it simpler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492923)

Or combine A and B. The generator/trailer would be available for purchase or for rent at gas stations / service areas / U-Hauls / Wal-Marts / wherever. Standardize them so that the connectors / voltages are compatible between different vehicle manufacturers. Have them come in 2 or 3 sizes, with the extra room for luggage. If g/trailers were easily available, range anxiety wouldn't be as much of a concern. The vehicle wouldn't need the primary battery to be as large, so a smallish-battery EV + g/trailer wouldn't be much more expensive than a large-battery EV, and would be probably be less expensive (and more efficient) than a PHEV.

Romanian Education (1)

glorybe (946151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491967)

During the cold war we were fed some bad information. In engineering you are very lucky to get a Romanian or Polish engineer. In engineering the education was first rate. Meanwhile most Americans seem to think that only the lowest of the low came out of the iron curtain nations. Subjects such as history got scrambled by the various dictators but engineering was highly valued. I suspect we are now seeing this from other nations most Americans think of as backwards. The abilities of engineers in South Korea, Taiwan and many other places is very advanced.

Re:Romanian Education (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492079)

Your history and geography are a bit scrambled.

Neither South Korea nor Taiwan were behind the Iron curtain.

Wasn't Romania the place where they killed a bunch of people testing the load capacity of a bridge by adding dump trucks until it failed? They've apparently never heard of non-destructive testing.

Truth is a know a good Romanian American engineer. He was destined to be a bricklayer under communism. It had all been decided.

If I'm looking for Engineering talent from behind the former iron curtain, I'm looking at the Ruskys first myself. Their engineering prowess is well demonstrated.

I like this (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492011)

Just put a few of these change stations on the outskirts of the cities on the highway, so electric in town, drive a few hours to X, stop at a station on the way to get an engine and a full tank of gas, when you hit the other city swap the engine back for a battery. For people who drive a LOT in town they can keep the engine. Sounds very handy. Would need a ridiculous amount of infrastructure however.

Aftermarket (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492077)

454 c.i. V8 engine module available soon.

The public is too dumb... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492123)

You should see people trying to get gas at a 'blender' pump or remember back to trying to get T tops in and out. Anymore, if it don't happen with the push of a button...it ain't gonna happen.

Wrong Approach (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492463)

I have written to Tesla and posted here about a similar idea.
Basically, most cars are driven local 95-99% of the time. But for the odd time that you are taking a vacation, you could either attach a trailer OR a pack on the back. The pack would simply plug into the frame and have a max weight of say 150 LB. From that point, the pack/trailer contains a motor/generator, a wave disc generator, a fuel cell, more batteries, or even ultra-capacitors. With this approach, it makes it possible to rent small trailer/packs for distance without having any special transmissions, etc.

Re:Wrong Approach (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492885)

How about just having an extra compartment in the floor of the trunk, vented to the outside and sealed from the inside, into which you can drop a small portable generator with an electric starter?

Re:Wrong Approach (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492985)

With the approach that I am suggesting, the unit is hung on to the back. The advantage of mine is that it simply requires 2 rails under the rear bumper that you plug into. With this approach, it is easy to deal with and will work for all electric cars assuming that you have a plug on the outside of the car.
The other approach is pulling a trailer, but some ppl will be upset about the idea.

With both of these approachs, the car is designed to have as much cargo space as possible. The only issue is that 100 lbs is added for the generator/fuel-cell/etc.

Simpler than that (1)

DaChesserCat (594136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492517)

A few years ago, Aerovironment had a 2-seat kit car they'd built. With lithium batteries, it had excellent range, but they wanted to be able to drive it further. So, they made a small, two-wheel trailer for it which contained a small, gasoline motor, a small fuel tank and a generator. Drive it around town on batteries. Hook up the trailer when you want to do a road trip. Best of both worlds.

I'm surprised no one has come out with one of those for the Nissan Leaf, yet. Seems like the most logical way to proceed. Alternately, if you don't want to drag a trailer, come up with something which attaches to the rear end, like a trailer-hitch-mounted cargo rack. It would add a couple feet to your length, and you might want air shocks on the rear end for load leveling, but you could attach the engine when you need it and do without the extra weight when you don't need it.

Re:Simpler than that (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492997)

You have to have a decent power to the electric cars. I have written Tesla about setting this up with a special plug (DC in, and a data connection such as ethernet).

Re:Simpler than that (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493261)

Leaf's motor is 80kW. Assume average highway use is 20kW (pulled from a dark place, I'm guessing It's low)

Just how big is a 20kW generator?

I can't find a Leaf's tow weight. I assume that's because it's zero.

Modular designs go nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492975)

If there's one thing the past decades of consumer products has made clear, it's that modular design just don't sell. Consumers always prefer products that have the features (components) they want, and as many of them as possible, all the time. Nobody wants to swap things out, ever.

A non-modular design is always simpler and cheaper. And the killer is that eventually it will become cheap enough to have it all built-in, or one of the components will become obsolete.

the real problem with the all electric car (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493295)

There is a problem with the all electric car, but it isn't really a technical problem, it is a poorly artificial legal problem created by our governments for the benefit of the insurance companies. The problem is that eventually everyone sees the need for a car with more range than the all electric car. So even if you want to save the earth and have clean air to breath, you don't buy an all electric car unless you are part of a multi-car household. I personally would buy one if I could, but the rare extended range trip kills that option for me. I would even consider buying a new all electric car and keep my current gasoline car for the couple of trips a year that i would make in it, but there is one big problem with that: Insurance. Even though I'm the only driver in my household, and I could only be driving one car at a time, I'm required to have liability insurance on both cars if I own two licensed cars. And the cost of insuring two cars is simply prohibitive.

I'm talking about simple liability insurance here, not comprehensive insurance (insurance that protects the car itself). I can see some weak arguments why that might be more expensive if you own two cars, or more cars than drivers in the household. But for liability insurance it is really the driver that is being insured, not the car. You see that proven as soon as you add a teenage drive to a car's insurance policy. You see it proven if you get a ticket and get "points" added to your license. Yet our government actually discourages driving choices that would be good for the environment by allowing the insurance companies to double bill you for liability insurance if you own a second vehicle.

Even before the all-electrics came out, I would have bought a much smaller car than I currently have if I could have had a second vehicle for the few times that I wanted to take a passenger somewhere and/or carry around some cargo. The car would have been much more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly and decreased our imaginary demand on foreign oil. But I couldn't justify the double insurance hit, it just made more sense to buy a larger four seat hatchback.

So the government is continuing to mandate better mileage (not that I believe the coming mandates will ever really be imposed), and give out absurd amounts of tax dollars for absurd ethanol subsidies and electric car research, while they simply refuse to tell the insurance companies to stop scamming the consumer and double billing then if the consumer wants to own multiple vehicles. Until that happens the market for all-electric cars like the Volt is artificially restricted.

Yes, changing out the battery pack for a motor does seem to be an attempt to address this, but I'm not clear on why it should convert the car to a rear-wheel drive non-electric car. That just seems like a crappy solution that is going to introduce plenty more problems. It would seem better to just swap out the large battery pack with a smaller battery and engine and fuel tank and retain the basic electric car. But it is really an artificial problem that is being created by letting the insurance industry bill you for both the number of cars you have as well as the number of drivers and the experience and driving record of those drivers, and if that problem were not there a free market could resolve the problem with current options.

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