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Modded Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 MPG

CmdrTaco posted about 9 years ago | from the now-give-me-my-water-powered-car dept.

Technology 1359

artemis67 writes "Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage. It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret -- a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel. Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car."

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ZONK MUST LEAVE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313885)


Remember that Cosmos I [slashdot.org] article a couple months back about "solar rails"? Half the comments there were about his typo. Does he proofread before he posts these things? Apparently not; if there is any error in any story I've seen, he has usually been the culprit.

A Slashdot analogy: /.ing a server is to a DDoS attack as a Zonk story is to a crapflood.

And now he accepts a submission comparing gaming to female orgasms. Taco should fire him.

That's all good, but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313886)

Where does he get the electricity to power the batteries? What power source is needed to replace these 18 batteries every few years?

Re:That's all good, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313920)

He has a windmill mounted on the hood with a generator to charge the batteries. The batteries are made from lemons.

Re:That's all good, but.. (0)

kfg (145172) | about 9 years ago | (#13313926)

Where does he get the electricity to power the batteries?

Fairies?

Nevermind the fact that I could mod a Chevette to get 250 mpg as well, were I willing to make the compromises to do so.

It's all about compromises, not milage.

KFG

Re:That's all good, but.. (1)

anagama (611277) | about 9 years ago | (#13313939)

Don't you know? Battery power is free -- get with it ok? Hydrogen too. Perfectly clean.

Re:That's all good, but.. (5, Insightful)

k98sven (324383) | about 9 years ago | (#13313975)

The inevitable smart-ass question of "Oh, but that electricity has to come from somewhere!!".

Consider this:
Energy content [faqs.org] of gasoline: ~45 MJ/kg
Density [simetric.co.uk] of gasoline: 737 kg/m3
1 cubic meter = 264.172051 gallons, equals 2.79 MJ/gallon.

Now 1 kWh is exactly 3.6 MJ. Electricity costs (let's exaggerate) 30 cents per kWh.

What do you pay for gas?

Now add to that the facts that:
1) It is easier to clean up a handfull of power-plants than a millions cars distributed over the whole country.

2) Electricity doesn't have to come from fossil fuel sources

3) Even if it does, power plants still produce energy more efficiently than an automobile engine.

 

Re:That's all good, but.. (4, Insightful)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | about 9 years ago | (#13314041)

"Even if it does, power plants still produce energy more efficiently than an automobile engine."

Everything except natural gas (which is running out and expensive) is stuck below about 35% efficient. Coal power plants a bit more efficient than an engine, but once you factor in transmission losses and storage losses it doesn't really look that good. That, and coal is a very dirty source of power (eg it releases lots of particulates some of them radioactive). The only viable large scale alternative is nuclear, and it's not exactly cheap.

Also, the transmission infrastructure can't take a significant number of people doing this.

Re:That's all good, but.. (2, Informative)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 9 years ago | (#13314070)

Electricity will be next to free within the next 10-30 years: Technological breakthrough article just a few days ago. [slashdot.org]

I'm suprised people aren't excited about this as I am. Solar panels never took off because the energy they produced didn't cover costs. This is more efficient and cheaper. They'll make money off their solar farms, then reinvest the money to create more solar farms, which allows them to reinvest even more money on even more solar farms. Its a cyclical process where somepeople are going to end up being in the top 100 richest people in the world. I'm so excited that I applied to their company and I'm trying to prototype out my own sterling engines. I figure that even if I can't be employed by them, nothing will stop me from running my own buisness.

Re:That's all good, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314077)

Now is a good time to mention nuclear and solar power (solar power doesn't have to come from solar panels). And now come the "OMGZ NUKULAR POWER IS TEH EVULH!!!1121eleventyone" trolls.

Re:You failed math class (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314046)

1 cubic meter = 264.17 gallons = 2.79 Kg or
125.5 MJ/gallon.

Just a *minor* math mistake, so 1 gallon is equal
to 34.7 kwh, so at 10cents/kwh that is $3.47,
which makes it about the same price as gasoline, when you remove the taxes from the gas and count
the inefficiency of a gas engine.

Re:That's all good, but.. (1)

joeware (672849) | about 9 years ago | (#13314081)

Hmm.. Your math is wrong. Assuming your numbers are correct:

45 MJ * 737 kg / 254 gals = 125 MJ per gallon

125 MJ per gallon = 34 kWh per gallon

You missed the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314067)

The main point is to get rid of the dependency of oil. Hybrids is a step in the right direction, and hopefully hydrogen cars will become reality in the future, so that hybrids can be replaced.

Does this violate the DMCA? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313887)

'nuff said.

Re: Tin-foil hat time? (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | about 9 years ago | (#13313957)

I have heard all of my life of oil companies buying the rights to stuff like this to keep it off the market. I wonder if an "open source" type of atmosphere for inventions like this will help them actually see light of day? It is interesting to see things big money can't control.

It seems to me that if we had a choice between a car that never needed refueling and a car that used substance X, which just happened to be sold at the place that used to sell gas, the powers that be would push the latter, just because there needs to be these stores on the corner that sell something to make cars go. That's the way it has always been done, right?

Maybe someone will come up with MP3s for auto fuel and upset the way things are done. That's what needs to be done because the corps are only going to push technologies that have reoccurring revenue that benefits the system they thrive on.

Usurper_ii

Yes (-1, Offtopic)

Punboy (737239) | about 9 years ago | (#13313888)

But does it run OSX86?

Re:Yes (1)

eggoeater (704775) | about 9 years ago | (#13313918)

But does it run OSX86?
Wow...that got old fast.

Re:Yes (1)

anagama (611277) | about 9 years ago | (#13313951)

no, it won't run OSX86 ... but it will run on 76

Re:Yes (1)

bleaknik (780571) | about 9 years ago | (#13313981)

No, it won't run x86, but at least this article was [slashdot.org]

So like... (3, Funny)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | about 9 years ago | (#13313889)

TFA talks about cars getting up to 250MPG, this dude has a car that gets around 80. Am I missing something, or do you have to overclock it to 7Ghz to get that kind of mileage?

Re:So like... (4, Informative)

imunfair (877689) | about 9 years ago | (#13313894)

"University of California, Davis engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg. They were converted from non-hybrids, including a Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Suburban."

Re:So like... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 years ago | (#13313963)

here is the funny part. I have an econo box from 1986 that kills the Prius and Honda hybrid gas mileage.

Geo metro 50Mpg average, when I drive all highway I get 58mpg

why does a "hybrid" get much less gas mileage than my old technology simple internal combustion engine with a CARBERATOR? something is very wrong with these hybrids.

80 mpg for the first 20 miles is great for the stay at home mom that drive to the store or around a little bit. the majority of the american public lives more than that from work. Granted in cities where during rush hour you spend a majority of that time at under 10mph or stopped and these hybrids make great use of that time. but having to buy a $25,000.00 hybrid plud add 80 hours of my time tinkering and voiding the warrenty so I can add another $3000.00 worth of parts to it to finally get a MPG rating that a hybrid should have already had really bothers me.

How about the fricking SMART CAR already availabe in canada and get's 60Mpg on it's own?

Hybrids are crap, utter crap until they get on their worst day 50mpg. Let's force the US to allow the importing of the smartcar.

Re:So like... (4, Insightful)

hoka (880785) | about 9 years ago | (#13313969)

You arn't missing anything. I think its a big problem with the car industry and other fanatics in general (and abstractly a problem with marketing really), instead of touting real benefits of a given product they just tout some numbers that make it sound like its the best thing sinced sliced butter or XOR. The current problem with these hybrids is that they are mostly more expensive than pure gas vehicles, and the costs can't be recouped unless you put in some insane driving time on them. Theres also been a lot of talk about how dangerous the batteries are and how costly it will be to get rid of them once they can't hold a charge anymore. From reading TFA it seems like all this guy did was rig in a bunch of extra batteries to gain some extra mileage, which doesn't really do anything worth a damn, since those batteries still have to be charged. I would be more impressed personally if they had come up with something that allows you to charge the batteries while the vehicles in use (such as the brake-chargers that the Honda hybrids used), or some other technology that makes the batteries more bio-safe/longer lasting. I'm moreso looking forward to seeing progress made in Biodiesal before hybrids/pure electrical, since they attack the problem in (what I feel) is a better manner.

Re:So like... (1)

adam31 (817930) | about 9 years ago | (#13314029)

Who cares? There is the ever-present diminishing returns spectre when start talking about improving efficiency.

My round-trip commute costs $5.00 (40 miles at 8 miles per dollar). A car that is twice as efficient (which would be roughly 40mpg) would cost only $2.50. A car that is 250mpg (100 miles per dollar) will cost $0.40 per trip...

But you see, a simple doubling in efficiency yielded a greater benefit than an additional 6x improvement! Efficiency beyond 60mpg is simply irrelevant. People just don't travel far enough, or they're not poor enough to justify it.

Re:So like... (1)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | about 9 years ago | (#13314064)

He's adding more battery storage so more of the trip can be handled by batteries on mains power. It's as simple as that.

People think that's good, but they forget about the problem of getting mains power. "We'll use solar!" they say, as if that isn't many times more expensive than nuclear, and as if nuclear isn't more expensive than coal. These cars are running on coal, spewing particulates (some of them radioactive) the whole way. The exaust just isn't coming out of the car.

Power plants are a bit more efficient than car engines, but transmission losses are non-trivial and the transmission infrastructure for the electricity can't take a significant number of people doing this.

MPG (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | about 9 years ago | (#13313890)

thats some serious distance. how does it handle and take off? that is the main barrier stopping your average polluting american slob using them. that and price

In case you aren't aware (0)

ravenspear (756059) | about 9 years ago | (#13313917)

Not everyone that likes fast cars is a polluting slob.

I like the environment and do my best to contribute to it's preservation, but please don't ask me to drive an 18 sec pussymobile.

Re:In case you aren't aware (4, Funny)

Nasarius (593729) | about 9 years ago | (#13314037)

I like the environment and do my best to contribute to it's preservation, but please don't ask me to drive an 18 sec pussymobile.

Translation: I am insecure and need to compensate with my penis car.

Re:In case you aren't aware (4, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | about 9 years ago | (#13314080)

"Translation: I am insecure and need to compensate with my penis car."

Translation: I'm envious of your ownership of the penis car.

Re:MPG (1)

DAldredge (2353) | about 9 years ago | (#13313978)

Why am I a snob for wanting a car that is able to merge with big city traffic?

There's still pollution, though (1)

krazykit (774736) | about 9 years ago | (#13313892)

Plugging it in may seem to help, but you're still paying for the electricity. Electricity that's made in power plants burning fossil fuels, which are still polluting.

Re:There's still pollution, though (1)

syntaxglitch (889367) | about 9 years ago | (#13313904)

Yeah, but with a large central power generation facility it's much easier to increase efficiency and clean up waste. A car's internal combustion engine will generate a LOT more pollution per unit of energy than a power plant.

Not to mention that electricity can also come from cleaner sources like hydro or nuclear or whatnot.

Re:There's still pollution, though (3, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 years ago | (#13313953)

A car's internal combustion engine will generate a LOT more pollution per unit of energy than a power plant.
I've heard this claim before, but can you actually provide any sort of proof to back it up? I suspect you can't, but I'd like to be proven wrong.

I do believe that the generators down at the power plant are in general more efficient than the engine in your car (though it's tricky to make an apples to apples comparison, as few power plants run on gasoline (though some probably do run on diesel)) but I suspect it's not a LOT more efficient.

Also, you were talking about `pollution per unit of energy' not efficiency, though in practice I suspect the two are just different ways of looking at the same thing -- after all, power plants will burn a given fuel in the same way that a car engine will, so the waste products will be the same. The power plant may be somewhat better maintained, however, and can have more things similar to a catalytic converters on a car.

And even if the power plant pollutes just as much as a car engine for a given amount of energy, there's another advantage -- the polution is generally produced away from the city, which helps keep the polution around the people who actually use the cars down.

Not to mention that electricity can also come from cleaner sources like hydro or nuclear or whatnot.
That's certainly true. Alas, not much of the US's power comes from things like this.

Re:There's still pollution, though (1)

Rayonic (462789) | about 9 years ago | (#13314032)

For power plants, there is also net energy lost converting the mechanical motion to electricity, and energy lost transmitting said electricity. Not to mention the energy lost putting the electricity into and out of the batteries, and the added weight of the batteries to the car.

Re:There's still pollution, though (3, Informative)

kayen_telva (676872) | about 9 years ago | (#13314043)

not much of the US power comes from hydro or nuclear ?

did you even bother to google before making such a stupid statement

"Today, nuclear power plants--the second largest source of electricity in the United States--supply about 20 percent of the nation's electricity each year."

http://www.nei.org/doc.asp?catnum=2&catid=106

http://lsa.colorado.edu/essence/texts/hydropower .htm

Re:There's still pollution, though (1)

artemis67 (93453) | about 9 years ago | (#13313927)

Yes, but when you're talking about pollution and power generation, you also have to look at the issue of efficiency.

Combustion engines are horribly inefficient, burning an excessive amount of fuel. Power plants are far more efficient, and therefore less polluting -- especially nuclear plants.

Another thing to consider is the fact the power plant can be located far away from densely populated areas, as opposed to auto polution, which increases with population density.

Re:There's still pollution, though (1)

timmarhy (659436) | about 9 years ago | (#13313930)

electric motors are many magnitudes more efficent then combustion engines, thats why they are considered environmentaly friendly. distance to $ value on them is far higher. also, you can produce electricity in non polluting ways, granted the technology to do so in a method that could supply our needs is a little way off, it WILL get there. i believe mostly due to cost, america has it good with petrol prices, but the rest of the world is really hurting under high prices. people will factor in the saving the make on petrol when buying an electric car, once we can get them for $60k AUD i will definately consider one. another thing i wish makers of electric cars would do, is stop trying to make them look futurisic ffs. make a normal looking car i can drive without getting beaten up for it.

Adios, dude! (3, Funny)

macdaddy357 (582412) | about 9 years ago | (#13313896)

Build a better car that doesn't guzzle gas, and the oil industry will beat a path to your door, destroy the car, and kill you. Adios, Dude!

Re:Adios, dude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313952)

Considering how misleading this story is, neither he or big oil have anything to worry about.

Re:Adios, dude! (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | about 9 years ago | (#13314057)

Who the fuck modded this insightful? "Funny" it might be in a stupid juvenile way, but definitely not "insightful". Sigh.

80MPG not 250MPG (2, Informative)

Hack Jandy (781503) | about 9 years ago | (#13313897)

No where in the article does it state that he actually got 250MPG. It only alludes to the fact that "modders" can. What an awful skew of the facts.

HJ

Re:80MPG not 250MPG (1, Flamebait)

Punboy (737239) | about 9 years ago | (#13313922)

If you RTFA, you'll see that another modder got about 230MPG by use of Lithium-Ion battery packs.

Re:80MPG not 250MPG (1)

anagama (611277) | about 9 years ago | (#13313985)

Last year I was thinking of turning an old motorcycle into an electric motorcyle. I looked into some 12v car battery size Li-Ion that had just come on the market (this was sorta cool because they'd figured out how to keep them from burning up). I sent an email to the manufacturer -- they were $600 or $800 each, can't recall which right now. Either way, that stopped that plan right away. Can't recall the name of the company though.

Re:80MPG not 250MPG (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313936)

The headline may be a bit misleading, but nowhere in the article does it state he gets 250, but neither does it say that modders can - it says modders have.
""Plug-in" hybrids aren't yet cost-efficient, but some of the dozen known experimental models have gotten up to 250 mpg."
"Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries."
University of California, Davis engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg.
I'd ask if you RTFA, but I guess it's pretty obvious.

Re:80MPG not 250MPG (2, Informative)

Hack Jandy (781503) | about 9 years ago | (#13313973)

I'll bite, because I did RTFA. (You skimmed it)

"Ron Gremban" did not build a car that does 250MPG; he got 80MPG on $3,000 investment in fuel cells. No where in the article title nor summary does it say he only got 80, the only number stated was 250MPG. The article barely dabbles on the 200+ MPG cars other than mentioning them in fact. Great submission and great RTFA defense to an article you barely read yourself.

HJ

don't expect this to show up too quickly... (2, Insightful)

NickCatal (865805) | about 9 years ago | (#13313899)

This is a very cool mod, but with the turnaround time in the auto industry and the legal costs that acquiring the rights to use the guy's idea would entail, it may be decades before you see this in new hybrids...

250 MPG? (2, Funny)

MutantHamster (816782) | about 9 years ago | (#13313901)

I prefer the Quicktime format, myself.

Of course, that's cheating ... (5, Informative)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 years ago | (#13313903)

If you charge your battery by plugging it in at the house, then you're cheating. MPG doesn't mean much when all the power doesn't come from the gas.

By this reasoning, I could build a car that has a little 1 horse power engine and a big bank of batteries which are charged by plugging it in at night. I could claim 1000 mpg, but that doesn't actually mean that my car is more efficient than any other car.

I agree that this may be useful, sort of more of a middle-ground between hybrids and electric cars, but really they should stop making mpg claims.

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (1)

Punboy (737239) | about 9 years ago | (#13313932)

At this point in our economy, MPG has no relevance as far as efficiency, but instead operating costs. It costs up to $3.00/gallon in some parts of the US per gallon of gas.

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313958)

Yes, but what is the cost for kilowatt hours ?

Electricity from the wall isn't free, you know.

Maybe we need to start measureing "cents per mile."

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 years ago | (#13314034)

Maybe we need to start measureing "cents per mile."
That would be far more reasonable than claiming that your car gets 250 mpg because most of it's power comes from the power grid.

Of course, that's complicated by things like gasoline taxes and subsidies for power plants and the like, but on a microconomic level it works very well.

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (4, Insightful)

qbwiz (87077) | about 9 years ago | (#13313966)

Unfortunately, assuming 36 kWh per gallon of gasoline, and $.12 per kWh of electricity, the equivalent of 1 gallon of gas in electricity costs $4.32. This doesn't take into account relative efficiencies, but electricity is definitely not free.

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (4, Interesting)

Leebert (1694) | about 9 years ago | (#13314062)

Unfortunately, assuming 36 kWh per gallon of gasoline, and $.12 per kWh of electricity,

Wow, is it really that bad elsewhere in the country? On my last electric bill here in Maryland, I was paying $0.0585/kWh for electricity, and $0.0263/kWh for delivery... That's less than $0.08/kWh

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 9 years ago | (#13314002)

At this point in our economy, MPG has no relevance as far as efficiency, but instead operating costs. It costs up to $3.00/gallon in some parts of the US per gallon of gas.
Here in Texas, it's around $2.40/gallon now. The difference is probably mostly higher gasoline taxes.

If more and more people start driving electric cars (which is basically what we're talking about here) the states will start to want their missing tax money back, and they will get it. (After all, the gas taxes are supposed to pay for the roads and such, and electric cars use the roads too. Keying it to gas usage works pretty well, as small/efficient cars create less wear and tear than larger/less efficient cars) but it falls apart when you start using electric cars.

And the cost of electricity will start to go up as well. Most electricity in the US is produced by burning fossil fuels, and as those become scarcer, prices will go up, just like with gasoline. There's more intertia, but the prices for electricity will go up. And if there are certain fossil fuels that are less scarse, cars will start using them -- propane powered cars aren't uncommon at all, for example.

Ultimately, rising fossil fuel costs are going to be bad for the economy, but could be good for the environment, spurring people to get more efficient cars, drive less, having the government create more nuclear power plants, more solar power, etc.

(Alas, the global oil production really hasn't decreased -- instead, it's demand that's increased. China, for example, is buying more oil than ever. (As are we, I think.) The environment is screwed ...)

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (1)

rritterson (588983) | about 9 years ago | (#13313977)

In the enviornmentally conscious bay area we get enough sun that installing solar panels on a rooftop generates enough power to run a house as well as charge the hybrid.

Sure, you're just displacing the energy investment into the solar panels, but eventually you will generate more energy then you consumed in making them, and all of the generated energy is clean.

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | about 9 years ago | (#13314038)

If it's so squeaky clean, then what the hell are you doing polluting with a hybrid? Dump it and get a 100% electric vehicle!

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 9 years ago | (#13313986)

I would say a factor is how he's getting the power for charging; plugging into a coal-based electric grid, or solar panels on his roof?

last I read (many years ago) a solar panel cost more to make, and produced more waste in manufacture than simple batteries; hopefully things have gotten better, and perhaps that source was wrong.

but yes, simply moving the problem dosn't help in the long run (landfill plastic bags, or tree shredding paper bags?) The only real solution is to reduce consumption.

Re:Of course, that's cheating ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314012)

Actually it does matter since electricity is generally cheaper than gasoline (lots) and also is cleaner, even if it comes from a coal-fired power plant (depending on the installation of scrubbers, etc).


Furthermore, the electricity may not come from coal necessarily but instead can come from wind, solar, etc, or many other forms [ca.gov] as it does in many states, not just California. The addition of even a small gasoline engine adds greatly to the total range of an electric-only vehicle. Combined with roof-top solar all across the southwest means that this is a very viable option and no one is "inflating numbers", so to speak.


Imagine if we start to use bio-diesel [unh.edu] turbo-injected hybrid engines for our needs -- possibly hundreds and hundreds of miles per gallon. yes, the algae economic feasability tests are underway but I think at this point in our planet's history it is our money or our lives and not a great deal of money at that, either. I'm willing to pay a premium now rather than get a wrecked environment in the future (in our lifetimes!)

Read Carefully (1, Informative)

putko (753330) | about 9 years ago | (#13313908)

Although it gets 250 MPG, that's for the first 20 miles (in the case of Grebman). So he's only getting that killer mileage for short trips, and he's got to recharge in between trips.

It is not as if he's got something that gives him great mpg all the time.

But as the article points out, some have driving patterns like that.

Re:Read Carefully (1)

NickCatal (865805) | about 9 years ago | (#13313923)

if I remember correctly, most people commute less than 20 miles each way... many times less than 5...

Re:Read Carefully (1)

malfunct (120790) | about 9 years ago | (#13313968)

The thing I dislike about saying "I got 250mpg for the first 20 miles" is that the cost of the electricity is completely discounted. The car is no longer a closed system and you aren't comparing apples to apples. My pathfinder can probably get 250mpg if its towed most of the way.

That said I also own a prius and for the size of the interior (which is bigger than I expected before I purchased it), getting 45mpg (which is what I'm averaging for my driving) in a car that has decent performance is nothing to squawk at.

Love the Prius, but for the working class nerd... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314013)

... I love the prius, could have bought one, but I didn't want to add up anymore debt nor raid my savings account to own it outright. This isn't to say I think it's a rip, far from it, really love those cars. BUT...

You can pick up an early 90s sentra for around 1500 bucks in decent condition and for about 400 bucks in after market parts, get it to 40mpg. I did just that. Just posting this because I know other people probably don't have the money, don't want the debt, or like me simply can't bring themselves to spend that much on a depreciating assett(aka, I'm a cheap bastard).

It's a plug-in (1)

snowwrestler (896305) | about 9 years ago | (#13313912)

Kind of bends the definition of "hybrid" a bit, at least as it's commonly used today in the commercial auto market.

EDrive FAQ (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313913)

EDrive is the company making the LiIon plug-in Prius conversions.

Link [energycs.com]

It's funny how that pesky electric car just won't die. Maybe because it really is a good solution for the majority of one's commuting. This one may still have an ICE in it, but it's only a matter of time before that is dispensed with.

And don't even talk about those "fool cells". Like nuclear fusion, fuel cell cars will always be 10 years away.

ah, yes... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313921)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these...

Update of an earlier Slashdot posting (2, Interesting)

silentbozo (542534) | about 9 years ago | (#13313924)

Modified Prius gets up to 180 Miles Per Gallon [slashdot.org]

The interesting thing about the new article is that there evidently now a company that will take your Prius, plus $12,000, and convert it into an all-electric car.

Nothing to see here, move along... (3, Insightful)

hendrik42 (593357) | about 9 years ago | (#13313925)

VW is selling 84 MPG vehicles since '99 http://www.usatoday.com/money/consumer/autos/marev iew/mauto497.htm [usatoday.com] The problem is not really making a high MPG car, it is that people, especially in the US, don't want to buy them. Not even the best technology can make an energy efficient car handle like a porsche or sound like a truck.

Nonsense...neighbors hummer gets more than 80mpg.. (4, Funny)

MickLinux (579158) | about 9 years ago | (#13313974)

You can make a hummer get better than 80 mpg. Not too far from my house is a hummer that gets better than 80 mpg, but it's also a hybrid.

It's a combination diesel-continental drift vehicle, and they fire it up maybe once in 10000 years.

Of course, if they power it up and use the vehicle to drive down the street, it's back down to 6 mpg.

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

TerminaMorte (729622) | about 9 years ago | (#13313983)

Bullshit.
 
In the article it doesn't show you the price (only alludes to the cost of the hybrid hardware inside it).
 
Hybrid cars are expensive and inconvient in areas that don't give you the ablity to easily recharge your battery.
 
This has nothing to do with the US either, so stop your bullshit America bashing. Does Europe suddenly only use hybrid cars?

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | about 9 years ago | (#13314055)

Let me tell you a secret, since you appear not to have travelled. In other countries, people drive much smaller cars than in the US. I thought the fact that USians like big cars was a given.

That (1)

heinousjay (683506) | about 9 years ago | (#13313987)

You know, the suspension and the exhaust noise aren't really the reason that people turn away from energy efficient automobiles. It's the power

Re:Nothing to see here, move along... (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 years ago | (#13314024)

, it is that people, especially in the US, don't want to buy them.

you are so wrong you are unbelieveably funny.

WE dont have that car or the smartcar here because GW bush and his buddies in oil and auto industries desperately do not want it here.

The smartcar get's 60mpg and can be bought just over the border in Canada. They are buying them faster than they can be imported. that same car is outselling everything else worldwide. When they are driven here in the USA EVERYONE that sees one wants one and asks where to get it espically after hearing how much gas mileage it get's and how unbelieveably cheap they are.

You can not buy the high efficency VW or the Mercedes Smart Car because GM,Ford,Chrysler, Mobil and everyone that has their fingers in the auto business and Oil business know they will all be utterly ruined if they get sold here.

Buy a toyota prius for $25,000.00 or buy a Smart car for $8900.00

guess what will outsell the toyota 10 to 1? here in the USA the land of my SUV is the extension of my penis, or I hope that the women think that it is...

anyone telling you that the high efficiency cars of europe will not sell here is lying bold faced to you.

I know. I drove a smartcar around detroit for 1 week that a friend in canad loande me, and I was stopped by thousands (yes THOUSANDS. it was a bitch to drive anywhere in it every corner you would get a flock of people coming to the car.) asking what it was and where could they get one.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314061)

You practically typify the phrase: "Hell, I didn't know they piled shit that high."

Re:Nothing to see here, move along... (1)

cerebis (560975) | about 9 years ago | (#13314045)

Interesting review, but some of the negative comments seems very much relative to the classic American perspective. At least this is what I gather when driving a rental in the US, where the manufacturer's focus seems to be isolating the driver from the road as much as possible. The contrast between that "ideal" and a small VW would be pretty stark even without the fuel saving options.

Energy costs will fuel this industry (1)

StreetChip (870758) | about 9 years ago | (#13313933)

With the cost of oil rising, many Americans recently polled said that the price of gas is already or soon will cause them financial difficulties. I happen to be one of those people who has the unfortunate situation of driving 3000 miles per month to get back and forth from work. Even at 30MPG, that's 100 gallons x $2.50. $250 a month. Recently we were thinking about buying a new car to cut down on our gas bill, and found that there are very few choices when you want to get 45 MPG or better. In fact, there were a total of 3 cars, none of which appealed to us. 30 MPG is about the best you can get for a normal looking car in the $15,000 range. As more and more consumers begin to feel the crunch from rising gas prices, you will see demand skyrocket for vehicles that can go further on less. I expect guys like the one in this article have a great future ahead of them. The idiots who designed the Hummer H2, however, not so good.

Re:Energy costs will fuel this industry (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 9 years ago | (#13314027)

Some older cars get better than 40mpg without being hybrids. You just don't get all the bells and whistles of modern cars, but you also save a bundle by buying used.

Re:Energy costs will fuel this industry (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 years ago | (#13314083)

In Australia petrol is ~$4US/gallon, there has been a 38% tax on petrol since the oil crisis of the 70's. LPG is popular over here, I have driven my `91 Holden for the last 10yrs on LPG for well under half the cost of petrol but I will soon have to find a new one. Unless your willing to drive a "Noddy car", it is hard to find one that does not suck the contents out of your wallet, many people simply move closer to work. I don't know your situation (kids need stability) but mine is that the kids are grown up and I'm happily divorced. A couple of years ago I saved 8hrs/week by moving closer to work, getting the "extra day" was worth more to me than the considerable savings I made on fuel.

Total BS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313934)


Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away.

This is TOTAL bullshit. They could make something now, but they don't want to get their asses in gear to "capture" the new markets. They just stand to make more money the way things are now, which is doing nothing.

If one of them actually started doing it on a full-scale basis, you'd see everyone else jump into as well for fear of losing market share. Period.

*NOT* 250mpg (5, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 9 years ago | (#13313935)

I've built electric cars. (college solar car team).

This car does not get 80 mpg. It uses 1 gallon of gas for every 80 miles it travels ... but he gets power from the wall, which had to come from somewhere.

Although large power plants may be able to make electricity more efficiently, he has to deal with transmission losses, and then storage losses from the inefficiency of battery storage. And he has the extra weight of 18 more batteries.

The only advantage wall-plugs do on electric vehicles is move where they're poluting -- it moves to the power plant, instead of the point of use.

Billing any of these cars as '250mpg' unless gallons of gasoline is the only input to the system is a disservice to everyone.

NOx and CO, CO2 / mile (2, Insightful)

billsoxs (637329) | about 9 years ago | (#13313950)

The real question is how much pollution are you producing per mile of driving.

I suspect - but have no proof - that the plug in option reduces some of the pollution per mile. The reason why I suspect this is that you have reduced the engine size and carry less of your fuel (part of which is at the power plant) Additionally the power plant should be able to run cleaner per Watt produced - they should have better polution reduction equipment.

Re:NOx and CO, CO2 / mile (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | about 9 years ago | (#13314044)

Additionally the power plant should be able to run cleaner per Watt produced - they should have better polution reduction equipment.

That, and the fact that fossil-fuel power plants are typically doing continual burns against the fuel, as opposed to creating several thousand tiny explosions per second.

Yaz.

I actually got 312 MpG back in the 1970's (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313956)

But I made the mistake of trying to patent my special water conversion carburator so a mole in the patent office turned me in.
I'm now in the Ford "dungeon" right now...I just got this 300 baud modem hacked up from paper clips and mouse droppings and the first site I got to was this "Slashdot"
Hey how are you all doing.... Frist Post?

I like these folks' idea: (3, Insightful)

Bobzibub (20561) | about 9 years ago | (#13313972)

http://www.e-traction.com/TheWheel.htm [e-traction.com]

Put the motor in the hub. No drive train! AWD!

All I need is some big bucks to get a welding torch and put 4 in some old jalopy. (And some batteries..)

Anyone know what these things go for? They can use a lot of juice and put out a lot of power.

Cheers!
-b

Re:I like these folks' idea: (3, Informative)

RobKow (1787) | about 9 years ago | (#13314008)

The significant increase in unsprung weight by putting reasonably sized motors in the wheels is going to make the ride harsher than inboard (sprung) motors.

How heavy are these in-wheel motors? I couldn't find it on that website in my quick look.

Re:I like these folks' idea: (2, Interesting)

RobKow (1787) | about 9 years ago | (#13314028)

I found it. The lighest one seems to be 185kg, way too heavy to put in a car wheel and maintain a reasonable ride.

Re:I like these folks' idea: (2, Funny)

Bobzibub (20561) | about 9 years ago | (#13314048)

Even in a, say, a Chrysler Lebaron?
(Would a boat help?)

Cheers,
-b

Re:I like these folks' idea: (1)

nathanh (1214) | about 9 years ago | (#13314072)

Put the motor in the hub. No drive train! AWD!

In the hub is a bad idea. It would increase the unsprung weight of the wheel. A practical design would place the motor at the end of the shaft that previously connected the hub to the diff.

Car mod kits (1, Informative)

smoondog (85133) | about 9 years ago | (#13313976)

This guy should build mod kits for cars to increase oil usage. Even with the expense, *someone* would by them and with volume would come reduced cost.

They should outlaw this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13313988)

If this catches on, there won't be any need for hydrogen cars, and so all the companies working on them will lose billions of dollars in subsidies, and the fossil fuel industry will lose an enormous new market (the market for H2 from fossil fuels).

If these things catch on, people will start wanting to buy 100% electric cars that don't use any gasoline, and then what will our oil companies do???

-----------
mobile search [mwtj.com] - try it on your phone

In related news (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 9 years ago | (#13313993)

Reporters trying to reach Ron Gremban for comment have had no success. Immediate family members report that Ron Gremban was last seen shortly after his comments and his family is concerned with his sudden dissapearance.

One person suffering trade offs is not conclusive. (5, Informative)

nick_davison (217681) | about 9 years ago | (#13313996)

Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage. It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret -- a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries.

And as the average American wants a big SUV and certainly isn't going to accept downgrading to something the size of a Prius and losing all of their trunk space to 18 brick sized batteries, it looks like the politicians and auto makers are correct.

In 1904 or whenever it was, two guys managed to invent a plane that, yes, technically could fly. A full hundred years later, why don't we all have our own planes or flying cars? Because, for the average person, they're totally impractical - they simply cost too much and have too many trade-offs for the benefits gained.

A Prius stacked full of batteries with no trunk space is exactly the same: Sure, you can do it. But that doesn't mean everyone in America is going to rush out and get one.

The theory is that it'll take years or decades to reach the point where it is practical for the masses. And that theory remains true.

easy! (2, Funny)

moosesocks (264553) | about 9 years ago | (#13314006)

I can get 250MPG.

Shift into neutral, and find a 250 mile stretch of downhill....

two sides of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314069)

let's hope you never intend to go back where you came from...

Something's always bugged me about hybrids ... (3, Insightful)

Lemurmania (846869) | about 9 years ago | (#13314007)

I've never seen anyone address the issue of the batteries. So I save a lot of gas by driving a hybrid, and I'm doing good by the enviroment, right?

What about the batteries? Aren't most batteries toxic as hell? Isn't the manufacture and disposal of batteries a colossal headache? Am I really doing anything productive at all, trading a few gallons of Saudi crude for a lithium/ion toxic waste site? Somebody, please, set me straight. What do they do with the batteries?

Oh, and what if you live in a place with real winters? Last I heard, batteries die a quick and silent death in subzero conditions.

nothing new... (0, Redundant)

infonick (679715) | about 9 years ago | (#13314016)

this topic had been covered on slashdot previously. Its a major wonder how news sites ever stay in buisness when the stories are old.

Also, anyone who has seriously looked into electric vehicles (EV's) will note that in spite of the success of well built electric vehicles (GM EV1 and the electric Ford Ranger), the automakers are resistant to the idea of selling electric vehicles. When the contracts for the EV1 were complete, GM scrapped the vehicles [austinev.org] . Many EV modles have suffered this fate. A few more recent success stories like the Ford Ranger EV have popped up. After intense ralleying by vehicle owners, Ford gave in and sold off their small fleet of Ranger EV's.

sorry, i'm ranting again. Yes, an electric car isn't for everyone. However, take a look at some electric vehicle conversions and what owners have to say before making up your mind.

Not quite the trick (2, Informative)

Pedrito (94783) | about 9 years ago | (#13314021)

As someone else said, plugging it in doesn't count. That electricity may or may not come from environmentally friendly sources. Most likely, environmentally hostile sources like coal.

Furthermore, there's a lot more to it than simply sticking a bunch of batteries in the trunk. Some consumers use their trunks. Why do you think they put them in cars? Because they just happen to have a lot of extra room when they're done building the car?

Also, by adding all that weight, you're changing the dynamics of the car. For a dealer to sell a car modified like that, it now needs to go through safety tests.

There are a lot of people that think, "Oh geez, all the car manufacturers need to do is XYZ and we won't need gas anymore." I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's a lot more complex a problem than most people make it out to be. You have to build a car that's safe and a car consumers want to buy. Those aren't always easy things to accomplish when the source of power isn't in question. When you're trying a new source of power, it's a big additional question.

Sure, everyone could rely on hydrogen, except we don't have enough hydrogen fuel pumps yet. Not to mention, hydrogen is pretty expensive to produce right now and certainly there isn't infrastructure to produce it in the quantities necessary for a mass market.

It's not a simple problem and there isn't a simple solution.

Re:Not quite the trick (1)

Brianwa (692565) | about 9 years ago | (#13314088)

As someone else said, plugging it in doesn't count. That electricity may or may not come from environmentally friendly sources. Most likely, environmentally hostile sources like coal.
Except those large power plants, even coal burning ones, are much more efficient and put out much less pollution for the same amount of energy a car engine puts out. And that certainly does count.

Serious question, merging of light rail and hybrid (1)

JoeShmoe (90109) | about 9 years ago | (#13314031)

Most major metropolitan areas have light rail systems, trains that are powered from overhead electric lines. Many of them probably also have a similar system for buses (San Fran does).

So here's a question...why not rig a contraption like in Back to the Future to hook into the power and then have "zero emmission" vehicles today?

Adding overhead powerline infrastructure would cost very little, given that virtually every street in the US is lined with power poles. IT would be a simple matter to put out some rails and run an line for buses and electric cars.

The only thing that stopped this from happening before was the lack of electric cars. Buses are built in large quantities to order for cities, and unless a good percentage of consumers would be willing to do the same, there would be no way to make the infrastructure costs worthwhile.

BUT...now we have a large and growing segment of the population driving electric cars. Hybrid cars are electric, even if they have a gas engine to power their electric motors.

So, why not figure out a way to make some kind of retractable antenna like a bumper car that can feed off existing light rail or bus power, then the need for gas is essentially only for country driving where infrastructure would cost to much.

Of course, who pays for power? The cities should. intially. That will help speed adoption the same way tax breaks and other financial incentives work. I see a lot of places that offer free or low-cost charging ports to encourage people to drive electric cars. Down the road, when the amount of vehicles using the power starts to add up, introduce some kind of "power meter" and bill and a very reasonable rate.

Also, for all of those who complain that cars that are powered off the electric grid are producing just as much of an emmissions problem as gas powered cars...that may be true now, but think about the future: which will be easier to police and regulate: a handful of large power plants or a million vehicles. I would much rather have every car in America sucking off the power grid, even if that means more coal and yes oil being burned to fill demand. Because after the cars are gone, then all eyes will be on the power companies and there's a lot few of them and they are a lot easier to bully than millions of angry drivers.

-JoeShmoe
.

News from FARK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13314039)

This was on fark at about 6:00 AM SATURDAY.
So it's not news, it's FARK'S.

I'm just thankful that my Saturn gets (4, Interesting)

Jerry (6400) | about 9 years ago | (#13314065)

30mpg in town, and 41 on the interstate.

An RV posted for sale on the bulletin board at work gets 2.5 miles per gallon. Also posted are lots of SUV's that get 10-12mpg in town and 18-20mpg on the interstate. That's why folks are dumping those gas hogs.

BUT, as the price of gasoline crosses $3.50 to 4.00/gal even my car will be too expensive to drive. I believe $3/gal will arrive before Christmas, and $4/gal by the next Christmas, if not sooner. Luckily, work is only 3.7 miles away and I have a nice bike.

Where do I plug it in? (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | about 9 years ago | (#13314068)

Assuming I had one of these cars, where would I plug it in? I park my car in a parking lot, not a private garage attached to a single-family house.
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