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

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the confuse-both-sides-of-the-spectrum dept.

Earth 543

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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seems like a total waste of time to me (1, Offtopic)

paul42 (693766) | about 2 years ago | (#40699895)

Back around 1900, there was a NY times editorial. The author did some quick calculations and found that at the current rate of growth of traffic that by the year 1920, the streets of NY would be 6' deep in horse manure. Their solution was that the city needed to hire more people to clean the streets.

Re:seems like a total waste of time to me (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699913)

So it's like your post?

Re:seems like a total waste of time to me (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40700073)

If the technology didn't change and people were still reliant on the horse 1920 it would have been exactly correct.

So I don't know what your point is here. Is he right in making a bid to change the status quo or is he wrong? Changing the status quo could change the upcoming calamity just like the introduction of the horseless carriage did.

The big difference is there are a lot more people currently fighting to keep the oil status quo now than there was for horses in 1900.

Re:seems like a total waste of time to me (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#40700465)

Pfft. All they needed to do was put taxes on Hay, Stabling and Ferrier Services and they'd whittle that down .. uh .. exactly in the way it doesn't do anyting to deter traffic today.

Re:seems like a total waste of time to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700591)

You win the Best Post of the Day award, which I hereby anonymously bestow upon you.

Re:seems like a total waste of time to me (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#40700459)

The author did some quick calculations and found that at the current rate of growth of traffic that by the year 1920, the streets of NY would be 6' deep in horse manure. Their solution was that the city needed to hire more people to clean the streets.

The Times was more likely to have been backing mass transit, the truck and the automobile. Horses produce enormous amounts of liquid and solid waste for their numbers. Disease was a problem. Rats were a problem. Simply clearing the streets of dead animals was a problem.

Re:seems like a total waste of time to me (4, Funny)

korgitser (1809018) | about 2 years ago | (#40700643)

... at least NY solved the rat problem, right?

Simple Solution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699927)

Just duct tape a Prius to each wheel.

Re:Simple Solution (-1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#40700065)

Mod parent up.

Re:Simple Solution (-1, Troll)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | about 2 years ago | (#40700529)

So you would get 4 times the consumption of a prius. numbers are bad here. Bad math, bad fuel, bad crap, bad everything. what you said doesn't make sense... like always. Please calculate next time...for our sake. Plus, the sub wouldn't pass under certain bridges because of the height of both cars. On top of that, the weight would destroy the prius very fast. What you said doesn't make said so go back to the drawing board. :)

Overweight Weight Loss Drug Analogy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:Overweight Weight Loss Drug Analogy (5, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#40700251)

Of course, miss! I have the perfect pill for your situation. It helps your body run more efficiently, burning off all the energy you'll take in and more! Now, you may experience some side effects, such as hyperactivity, nervous twitching, loss of teeth, desire to steal copper tubing, and being murdered. I assure you, these are all normal parts of the weight-loss process.

Use a Lupo engine (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Use a Lupo engine (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#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:Use a Lupo engine (2, Insightful)

NalosLayor (958307) | about 2 years ago | (#40700231)

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:Use a Lupo engine (1, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40700301)

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.

Re:Use a Lupo engine (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Use a Lupo engine (5, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Use a Lupo engine (4, Insightful)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Use a Lupo engine (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#40700501)

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.

Re:Your generation never had SUVs (1)

dreadlord76 (562584) | about 2 years ago | (#40700445)

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 calling them station wagons, a new term was necessary. So the Sport Utility Vehicles were born. All was well in the kingdom of men.

Re:Your generation never had SUVs (2)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 years ago | (#40700731)

It was CAFE, not style.

Re:Use a Lupo engine (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 2 years ago | (#40700461)

Jeep Cherokee

Re:Use a Lupo engine (3, Insightful)

bobcat7677 (561727) | about 2 years ago | (#40700499)

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).

Re:Use a Lupo engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700639)

I'll fix that for you, they dream they might someday need to tow something but since they live in the city is very unlikely and they just need an excuse to compensate for something.......

Re:Use a Lupo engine (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40700669)

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 (4, Interesting)

jittles (1613415) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Don't Waste Your Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699965)

Making it a hybrid does nothing for fuel economy *unless it is driven frequently in stop/start traffic*. If you are planning to idle this thing across Manhattan, go for it.

It still requires the same fuel to accelerate the big fat mass and to push it through air at speed, making it a hybrid for road miles is useless.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

joaommp (685612) | about 2 years ago | (#40700003)

If the acceleration is done using the batteries, not quite so. The idea is to build a plug-in hybrid but with no direct connection between the fuel engine and the wheels.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#40700255)

So basically an XR3 [] but with an SUV shell?

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (4, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | about 2 years ago | (#40700441)

Making it a hybrid does nothing for fuel economy *unless it is driven frequently in stop/start traffic*.

Common misconception. The biggest advantage of hybrids is not actually stop-start, but that it lets you use an undersized engine which is run most of its times in a high torque (aka, more efficient) power band. If you used such an engine in a non-hybrid, it'd be underpowered for acceleration and hill climbing, but the electric assist lets you do that.

unaffordable (1)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#40699971)

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.

Re:unaffordable (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40700145)

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.

Re:unaffordable (0)

seifried (12921) | about 2 years ago | (#40700265)

After the fact replacement of the engine means you need to pay someone to take the existing engine out, put a new one in, integrate it with the existing systems/etc. I imagine that takes a few hours (probably tens of hours) which adds significantly to the cost.

Re:unaffordable (1)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | about 2 years ago | (#40700479)

You guys will note that they don't mention cost, other than to help get going. The project seems rudimentary and prototypical; they want to see if they can do it, and then refine it, and then mass produce it. I'm hoping they can succeed and get the costs down somehow.

Re:unaffordable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700309)

According to Volkswagen's website, a standard Jetta starts at $16,645, while the Jetta TDI starts at $22,775. Now, this comparison neglects feature parity (the TDI's features are comparable to an SE with Convenience, which goes for $20,075, leaving an actual price premium of ~$2,700), but I think this explains where the GP was coming from. It's not a fair comparison any more than comparing a Prius to a smaller stripped-down Corolla is fair, but there you have it.

Re:unaffordable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700291)

Just a note; If you're running a generator (diesel) to charge batteries and the battery is what is providing power to the drive system then you can use off-road diesel. Here in the Midwest, that's about $3/gal.

Re:unaffordable (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | about 2 years ago | (#40700603)

Diesel gives better milage, about 1/3 more. [] The price difference between a Passat TDI and gas at the same trim level is only about $2000. [] The TDI would save you about $400 a year in fuel costs. You pay for the extra price in just over 2 years.

Towing capacity (3, Insightful)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Dur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40699977)

Don't make insulting assumptions about the mindset your target market. That's always a good start.

Re:Dur (1)

joaommp (685612) | about 2 years ago | (#40700053)

It was intended as a joke, not as an insult. And while it really was said as a joke, it is sadly true that many people use their vehicles as a way to overcome or overcompensate some of their inadequacies. And I'm not necessarily talking about anatomy.

Re:Dur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700373)

You should contact James Randi with those mind reading powers. They have a $1 million prize.

Re:Dur (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#40700641)

It was intended as a joke, not as an insult. And while it really was said as a joke, it is sadly true that many people use their vehicles as a way to overcome or overcompensate some of their inadequacies.

Others have people to move. Cargo to move. They need a rugged, reliable, all-weather, all-terrain, vehicle. That's your market.

Oscar EO (2)

ramunas (771197) | about 2 years ago | (#40699979)

Well you could always contact these guys [] for tips. They seem to know what they were doing.

SUV is the perfect choice (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#40699997)

It provides ever so much space in the back for a really, really long extension cord.

Re:SUV is the perfect choice (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | about 2 years ago | (#40700153)

Brings a whole new meaning to 'plug-in hybrid'

FutureTruck! (4, Informative)

Breadly (872754) | about 2 years ago | (#40700005)

When I was in university we participated in a competition sponsored by Ford called "FutureTruck" ( 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!

Advertisement NO NO (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700009)

Go away and make your advertisement somewhere else.

Got a EE? (2)

protonbishop (516957) | about 2 years ago | (#40700035)

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-phone, laptop, etc., hardware companies.

So your HUD may be fun, but make sure you've got smart guys working on the battery side.

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.

Good luck!

Re:Got a EE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700197)

You probably need two, at least one of whom is a controls rock star. They're usually way under appreciated but in this case a lot of success depends on finding someone who can model all your system components at the right fidelity (surprisingly insanely difficult) and then design control schemes for them that go beyond "can a talk to b" and actually optimize overall system response / performance.

Good idea but? (1)

avantls (2688133) | about 2 years ago | (#40700037)

Well I say, fairplay to you if you can do it. I agree with some of the points though in the fact SUV`s are designed as hefty vehicles. They are for towing etc. I`m not sure you could pull of the power aspect of an SUV with a hybrid engine. If you do great, need more ideas like this in the word....

You can try (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#40700085)

but a SUV will never become environment friendly.

Re:You can try (1)

joaommp (685612) | about 2 years ago | (#40700161)

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.

Re:You can try (1)

Rei (128717) | about 2 years ago | (#40700545)

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 practicality taken into account, a streamlined, lightweight electric bike is best.

Ehhhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700113)

Its a neat project, but honestly, I do not see many people purchasing such a kit. They will go buy a crossover instead.

Ask the car blogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700127)

Go get a car blog like Jalopnik to do a post on it. You'll get plenty of opinions. They'll know vehicles better than most people here.

Do I get a cut of the pofit?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700133)

It really bothers me when people use Ask Slashdot to get free advice that they'll later use to make money. Do you know what the R in R&D stands for??

Re:Do I get a cut of the pofit?? (3, Informative)

joaommp (685612) | about 2 years ago | (#40700297)

What about you, do you know what "non-profit" means? Since you didn't bother to pay attention, I'll explain it carefully: if we make any money from this, it won't be to help us buy a house in the Hamptons or an SLR. It will be to invest in the next research projects. The kits, if we manage to create them, will be for a cost, with the entire profit being invested in further research. But the plans and results will be fully available online, as well as a full bill of materials. Troll less, live longer.

Greenie perspective (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#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!

Re:Greenie perspective (3, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Greenie perspective (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Greenie perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700443)

You sure beat the hell out of that straw man, tough guy.

Re:Greenie perspective (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40700595)

You sure beat the hell out of that straw man, tough guy.

He deserved it. I've seen him lurking in the neighborhood for weeks... dealing bad logic and negative emotions out of his van. I finally had enough when I saw a 15 year old internet troll from /B/ ave. getting high on memes. The moderators won't do anything about it... I've called a dozen times, and twice now they've given me a -1 citation. So I went all Batman on that shit.

Re:Greenie perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700533)

Invariably, ... blah, blah, blah, ... Enjoy!

So, you're saying Whale Oil is the only viable alternative?

Re:Greenie perspective (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40700681)

So, you're saying Whale Oil is the only viable alternative?

Soylent Green is the most environmentally friendly, actually. It even has 'Green' right there in the name. I've long been an advocate of strawmen as the primary ingredient, but a few months ago we reached Peak Strawman here on slashdot. It's clear strawmen are really just a transitional energy source. I've proposed switching to Anonymous Cowards, but most consider them to be an inferior energy source; Removing Sarcasm is a difficult process to industrialize... especially since we still need to retain the highly combustible Fanaticism, which is chemically very similar.

Re:Greenie perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700771)

That is a good perspective to have, I wish more people had it since we are right.

Just doing a simple electric only conversion is pretty hard. Add in the complexity of a generator that kicks in at a certain time/distance/voltage is the really complicated part.

Watch they are converting an Cadillac SUV right now.

And read up on how to do it. Ask a lot of questions on forums.

Mechanical coupling more efficient than Gen/Mot. (1)

guidryp (702488) | about 2 years ago | (#40700183)

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.

Re:Mechanical coupling more efficient than Gen/Mot (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 years ago | (#40700315)

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 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.

Weight is your enemy (3, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | about 2 years ago | (#40700203)

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.

Why SUV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700209)

Actually the better reason for converting an SUV is the total benefit.

A x% reduction in a large SUV is going to be a larger energy savings than in a small car.

I sure hope you have someone with a good knowledge of electric motors and drive circuits, this is NOT trivial.
Decent acceleration will require a LOT of power.

Re:Why SUV (1)

joaommp (685612) | about 2 years ago | (#40700333)

Fortunately, we do have people with experience in doing this for university projects that actually got awards. But this time we're doing it on a more serious scale, hoping to get a certified vehicle, and in a private non-profit institute, not in the university. The previous experiences were cars that were used in a national competition only, never were intended for official certification.

Don't bother... It can't work well... (1)

nweaver (113078) | about 2 years ago | (#40700217)

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...

into an (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700223)

into an into an into an

Use an engine with a better weight to hp ratio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700321)

Use a turbine (2)

raluxs (961449) | about 2 years ago | (#40700331)

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

Re:Use a turbine (1)

joaommp (685612) | about 2 years ago | (#40700463)

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.

SUV "sense of safety" is a myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700349)

A regular 4-door car is much safer than an SUV, because it is much less likely to roll over, and can make sharp emergency turns and keep on going (upside up).

Simpler Approach (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about 2 years ago | (#40700351)

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)

DIY Electric Car Forum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700381)

Check out:

Huge resource and forum for converting a gas vehicle to electric. I converted a Triumph Spitfire to full electric with their help.

Bio deisel? (1)

plopez (54068) | about 2 years ago | (#40700403)

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.

Pitfalls (1)

EdZ (755139) | about 2 years ago | (#40700439)

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 able to get the vehicle going and keep it going for a few miles. The gennie is hooked to the battery/cap, and will cut in whenever it starts to discharge, and stops when the discharging stops and the batt/cap is full again (you could segment the batt/cap bank and cycle through them to make the charge/discharge circuity easier to handle). This allows the gennie to run at one speed only (and never need to idle), and thus can be made even more efficient than if it had to be throttled or geared and be only reasonably efficient over a range. This also opens up a lightweight (though more expensive) turbine gennie as well as the traditional piston-diesel. It also means your battery/capacitor bank doesn't need to be especially large, thus cutting down on cost significantly.

Re:Pitfalls (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 years ago | (#40700587)

HUB motors are not inefficient. And on top of that they don't need any gearing at all.

Stupid Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700451)

The efficiency of diesel engines is quite close to the theoretical optimium these days, and this is over a wide range of operating conditions. You cannot really improve the efficiency by replacing simple mechanical components connecting the engine with the wheels by something that burns energy unnecessarily (charging/discharging/generator-vs-electrical motor) and adds lots of mass.
As range extender a gasoline engine (including one buring natural gas, H2, or similar fuel) is sufficient. Optimize for a single operation point, and done. More light-weight, much cheaper, and especially easier to get the emissions down (not CO2, but especially those other evil parts of the emissions, which to decrease usually additional fuel is required).

Change paradigm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700457)

If you want to go electric, you have to change paradigm, a car is far too heavy to get any efficient milage out of an electrically powered engine. Sell the SUV and buy a light vehicle like a bike.

Locomotive (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | about 2 years ago | (#40700477)

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.

Step in the right direction (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#40700485)

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 with.

And one really big hint, if you want people who drive large vehicles to improve the fuel economy of the vehicles that they drive. Quit antagonizing them and try meeting their perceived needs without judging them for how they perceive their needs. For some reason people seem to think that antagonizing people is a great way to get them to change their view on things like their choice in vehicles. /drives a low emission car and was driving very high mpg cars for years before they politically correct.

What kind of range extention? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 2 years ago | (#40700525)

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?).

Make it lighter (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 2 years ago | (#40700549)

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 extra passenger. If you can add a panel that covers the undercarraige, it will drastically improve the air resistance at highway speeds. Yes, it will reduce the ground clearance a bit, but most SUV owners don't actually need any more ground clearance than typical compact car. To that end, you might also consider lowering the suspension.

Decent idea, contrary to some of the comments (1)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | about 2 years ago | (#40700551)

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 the slack during these brief peaks then you can use a much smaller engine/generator than the original motor to run the thing.

- Making "flexible" engines is a compromise. Car engines have to work across a broad operating range, which is not so easy as making an engine that is good at one constant speed, hence why static/generator engines have a very different power curve (everything arrives at or around their operating point, say 1500rpm, and nothing much outside of that). The suggestion of using a 3cyl Lupo engine is good, but you may get even better economy from a dedicated generator lump.

Someone said that direct mechanical coupling (engine-gearbox-wheels) is much more efficient than engine->generator->elec.motor->wheels, however if you take the average yank SUV into account (big auto box & 4WD transfer case in the way) you may not be that far away. If you can go to wheel motors and cut out the propshafts & axle diffs then all the better.

That's about the extent of what I know on the subject, but don't let the naysayers in comments tell you it's dumb. Also check out SimonR's electric freelander (small SUV) on as an example of a DIY electric car build.

SUVs will be more useful in 10 years then now (1)

Simonetta (207550) | about 2 years ago | (#40700553)

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-work-to-home trips. Pre-organized commutes are the only under-utilized transportation channel available in most American high-tech areas. Public transit is packed and highways are jammed to near-standstill with single-occupant autos. If high-tech cities are going to continue to grow, especially with the idiotic American pattern of having affordable housing outside of the personal-transit (walk.bicycle.local bus) range, then pre-arranged car-pooling using SUVs is the only option.

    But it's total green-wash to rebuild a standard SUV engine into a Hybrid. It's just stupid. Better to get serious and just buy your next SUV with a factory-designed and engineered Hybrid engine. When resource management becomes serious, and it will when gasoline reaches $8-$10 a gallon within ten years due to the disruptions of peak-oil, then you don't get any green 'brownie-points' for expensive projects that basically just symbolic in their nature. Like converting a 2010-era old stupid SUV into an semi-electric vehicle.

You Can't (1)

STRICQ (634164) | about 2 years ago | (#40700559)

Upon completion of the conversion, the SUV would promptly run into the nearest building or off the nearest cliff at high speed. I know this is true from all the media stories with headlines like, "SUV Runs Off Road, Crashes Into Building." Because, as all reporters know, SUVs are sentient and evil.

A bunch of thoughts (1)

subreality (157447) | about 2 years ago | (#40700561)

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 rear axle, but you could mount the motor right up to the differential, likely with a reduction gear. Do the same thing on the front if you want 4WD.

On a body-on-frame SUV, this might clear enough room between the frame rails to fill in battery packs. Unibody models might not be so lucky.

If you want it to be good 4WD, actively proportion the torque between axles or wheels (depending on 2 or 4 motors). If one axle / wheel goes significantly faster, reduce power and redirect it to the others. It won't be quite as capable as real diff lockers, but it won't get stuck nearly as easily as AWD (three open diffs) which can't keep going when one wheel loses grip.

Consider where you want your weight - more batteries or more engine. I would love to see this done with a "more batteries" approach - full electric running for 40-60 miles then running a small engine fairly hard for extended range, but which is never required for in-town use (IE, like a Volt), instead of a large engine and small batteries where the electric assist just improves the fuel efficiency (Prius). The batteries cost more, but it would make this conversion much more interesting to me.

Stop it with the hybrids already! (1)

thesaintar (865954) | about 2 years ago | (#40700571)

Yes, you need something to extend range, but it should be a small, efficient diesel generator, not a double-clutch, computer-controlled monstrosity like the Prius. The concept has been working since the early 20th century on locomotives. The Diesel in the locomotive is a generator, nothing more. WHY NOT DO IT WITH YOUR SUV?

Cummins 4BT or successor engine (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#40700583)

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'd look for a small SUV with a ladder frame, like an older 4Runner or Pathfinder, I'd body-lift it from the frame like the 4wd enthusiasts do, and then I'd build battery boxes to go around the frame. I'd beef up the front suspension to handle the weight of the engine and batteries, and I'd beef up the rear suspension to handle the batteries. As the Pathfinder is based on the Hardbody, and the 4Runner is based on the Hilux, I'd look for a "one ton" or "heavy duty" version of these trucks to source suspension and axles from. I'd switch to LT tires from P tires, and I'd add bigger antisway bars.\

I'll leave it your job to figure out how to make the hybrid stuff work electrically and mechanically, and how to get the engine to pass an emissions test.

infOrmative goatGOAdT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700601)

a few ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40700637)

Big solar panels on the roof for recharge while in a parking lot. I'd wager 90% of the use of SUVs is to go to work and back (average 15 miles), with a 9 hour downtime, typically in a sunlit parking lot. They should be a type that has a high function with variable angles, as they are likely to lay flat all the time (look into fresnel lens design)

Consider computer control on 2-4 electric motors in an AWD type system. This eliminates the need for differentials.

Consider small turbine engine for nondirect drive. they are inefficient at direct drive but can be more efficient at a constant velocity than a piston engine, and are much lighter. This can provide a constant charge, as well as possibly intake and exhaust thrust.

DoE "Future Truck" (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 2 years ago | (#40700665)

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

(as some of the teams were awarded grants, I assume there'd be some sort of documentation about how they achieved the improvements [] , 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.)

Minimal Research? (1)

Art Challenor (2621733) | about 2 years ago | (#40700737)

So, if you could help providing additional advice and information, it would be awesome.

How did this make the front page of /.? It's not news or even a vaguely new idea.

Converting an SUV, or just about any fossil fuel vehicle to an EV is well understood. There are kits available for a good number of cars.

There's a lot of information here: [] read it all. It will explain how to choose a good donor vehicle. An SUV might work, but choose a light one, preferably aerodynamic. Small (S10,ranger,etc.) pickup trucks are popular because you have carrying capacity for batteries (often under the bed).

Adding a range extender is extremely difficult, depending on how you do it. A generator charging the batteries is easy, but hopeless ineffiicient (and you need a big generator). Driving the wheels with either the existing engine, or the electric motor is do-able, but non-trivial and either solution has the weight of the electric drive-chain plus batteries and the fossil fuel drive chain.

If you really want some advice, convert a small car, or SUV to all-electric and develop a "pusher" trailer with a diesel or gas engine that you can hook up for longer journeys. There are already DIY and commercial plans for such trailers.

$50,000 is also excessive. Conversion kits run about $10K, add $10K of Lithiums, $20K if you choose something heavy and want a realistic range. Even if you start with a $10K donor your still not at $50K.

do NOT start from an SUV. start from a smaller car (4, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | about 2 years ago | (#40700747)

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 incredibly valuable lesson that starting from the highly-optimised insane trail that's been blazed by the automotive companies in the name of profit rather than morality or our planet will only result in a big, big shock.

if however you follow my advice to start from a microcar or even a heavy quadricycle, and to make your own geodesic frame from scratch and just for laughs throw away the 13in wheels that microcars usually come with, but put 17in or 19in wheels on it, you might actually come up with something awesome *and* energy-saving. i recommend using old-school spoked (tubed) wheels. they'll be lighter. and look really cool, too.

if you *really* want something cool-looking, normal-looking and an aerodynamically-efficient design as well, contact me off of slashdot and i'll go through the patented design concept i developed. you should be able to easily achieve 200mpg using the basic patented concepts as well as have a vehicle that looks like it's a standard car (or SUV).

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