Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Technology

Modded Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 MPG 1359

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-give-me-my-water-powered-car dept.
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Modded Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 MPG

Comments Filter:
  • So like... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:02PM (#13313889) Homepage
    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... (Score:4, Informative)

      by imunfair (877689) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:04PM (#13313894) Homepage
      "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... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:17PM (#13313963) Homepage
      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... (Score:4, Informative)

        by damiam (409504) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:16PM (#13314219)
        The Geo is, as you say, an econobox. The Prius is not. You can fit four people in it comfortably, with luggage. It has all the standard safety features that one would expect from a modern car, and the performance as well. There's a reason Geo Metros didn't take off, and it's because very few people want to drive them. To make a real car with similar mileage to a Metro (my parent's Prius averages 50-55mpg over mixed highway/city driving) is a huge accomplishment.

        That said, I would never buy a Prius myself. There are better cars for the price (and similar cars for much less), and there are many better ways to help the environment then by purchasing a new car.

        • Re:So like... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Rei (128717) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:40PM (#13314321) Homepage
          Not to mention that the Metro is manual transmission (automatic sucks efficiency, and will until continuously variable transmission becomes standard), and only was rated as 45 MPG highway (which was lowered to 35 MPG). The earlier engines were 55 hp, while the latter was 70. Both engines were famous for getting worse efficiency as they aged due to vibration because of the light construction.

          For comparison, my lawnmower has six horsepower.

          better ways to help the environment than by purchasing a new car

          Excellent point. Many environmentalists fail to factor in production into their calculations. Steel is made by burning coke in with your iron ore. Aluminium is an incredibly energy-consuming electrolysis process. Plastics, well, they're non-biodegradable and made from petroleum. Copper is a particularly polluting metal to mine. And lets not even get into things like batteries.

          If *I* needed a new car, I'd probably choose a hybrid. However, to run out and get something new because it's more efficient often ignores the big picture. Complex physical devices often have polluting activity involved in production at least somewhat related to cost.
          • Re:So like... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by timster (32400) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @11:39PM (#13314569)
            By the way, I've owned a CVT car for three and a half years. Don't know if you've driven one but it's a nifty experience. Once you learn what to expect from the transmission computer you can get a lot of control of the car's torque just through careful manipulation of the throttle.

            I don't think I'll buy a non-CVT car again, so I'm looking forward to them being standard. The kind of driving I do makes manual sort of impractical, and conventional automatic can be very annoying.

            I should say though that, at least from my understanding, CVT will never be quite as efficient as a manual when it comes to highway mileage. The pulley design makes slippage sort of inherent, and although for city mileage that's allieviated by the engine being kept at the most efficient RPM, for highway mileage that doesn't help as much. Still more efficient than a regular automatic, though.
      • Re:So like... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dr_dank (472072) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:17PM (#13314220) Homepage Journal
        Let's force the US to allow the importing of the smartcar.

        Smartcars do well in Europe since most cars are very small (Citroens, Fiat Pandas, and the like) and there are fewer of them. Not many cars will be much bigger than yours, save for the occasional Mercedes or tractor-trailer.

        The US is far different. Even in times of record high gas prices, SUVs are still selling since many people have the idea that size=safety. Just like the cold war arms race, no one wants a wimpy car that doesn't stand a chance against an encounter with an Escalade.
        • Re:So like... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:46PM (#13314344) Homepage Journal
          SUVs are still selling since many people have the idea that size=safety

          I'm tired of hearing this. While that might be part of it, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to own an SUV.

          My family has 7 people in it. To travel semi-comfortably on vacation, we pretty much have to use a Suburban. A minivan, while it does have room for 7, doesn't have room for luggage. We're not anywhere near alone in this.

          My family also enjoys camping and using a shared family boat. Both of these require a vehicle that can tow a lot of weight. There's not many options for a even a family of 5 to travel and tow something this size besides a large SUV. We're not anywhere near alone in this.

          It's not something we really like. After all, ~15 MPG with a 45 gallon gas tank and $2.50 per gallon add up to some pretty big numbers for a trip. Because of this we also have a smaller vehicle for everyday use. This isn't to say that SUVs are always used for a good reason. I'm sure there's plenty of people who just like the big cars, same as they like big houses. But SUVs also have many valid purposes.
          • Re:So like... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by megaversal (229407) on Sunday August 14, 2005 @12:02AM (#13314680)
            I imagine that your fuel efficiency is comparatively pretty good, because even though you're getting ~15mpg, you're moving 7 people (versus 2 cars with more mpg, but more stops if they have smaller gas tanks and more confusion, and also more traffic).

            However, the problem isn't your family going on trips in an SUV. Most (relatively rational) people would agree that in your case, for that situation, it makes sense. What about when you aren't on trips, who uses it? Does someone use it to drive to the market every day, run errands, etc? That's where it starts to bother people.
        • Re:So like... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Altima(BoB) (602987) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @11:54PM (#13314641)
          I'm an American living in Ireland and a proud owner of a Smart Fortwo convertible. While it's true that the scourge of the SUV fad hasnt hit here yet, mainly due to how they tax and insure vehicles here (by engine displacement), there's still no shortage of large vehicles with which I share the road. Yet I feel quite safe inside of it, it has better safety features as standard than most irish cars on the road.

          And the gas mileage is sweeeeet. I drive it on my commute every day and I only need to fill up every 2.5 weeks, yes, weeks. And even though gas costs about $4.00 a gallon here (you Americans think you have it bad, hahahaha...) I still spend less on gas per month on that car than I do when I visit the USA with other cars. I was in New York City and Boston in the past few weeks and was disgusted by how many Hummer H2's were driving around. A Smart is the PERFECT city vehicle, and it's just ignorance to dismiss it because of it's sensible size.
      • Re:So like... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by derubergeek (594673)
        Let's force the US to allow the importing of the smartcar.

        Already available [zapworld.com] in the US.

    • Re:So like... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hoka (880785) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:20PM (#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.
  • by macdaddy357 (582412) <macdaddy357@hotmail.com> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:05PM (#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!
  • 80MPG not 250MPG (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hack Jandy (781503) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:05PM (#13313897) Homepage
    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
  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:06PM (#13313903) Homepage
    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.

  • by hendrik42 (593357) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:10PM (#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.
  • *NOT* 250mpg (Score:5, Informative)

    by oneiros27 (46144) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:12PM (#13313935) Homepage
    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.
  • by Bobzibub (20561) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:20PM (#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
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:24PM (#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.
    • There's more to it than that. Anyone remember Thorstein Veblen's theory of conspicuous consumption? The basic idea, for those who haven't, is that when unnecessary overconsumption is socially sanctioned -- that is, when it becomes fashionable -- then the normal laws of supply and demands are, if not suspended altogether, then greatly modified.

      There is no consumer pressure to make fuel-efficient cars because the very inefficiency and extravagance of the modern SUV is what is really being purchased by design.
  • easy! (Score:3, Funny)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:26PM (#13314006) Homepage
    I can get 250MPG.

    Shift into neutral, and find a 250 mile stretch of downhill....
  • by Lemurmania (846869) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:26PM (#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.

  • Not quite the trick (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:29PM (#13314021) Homepage
    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.
  • by Jerry (6400) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:40PM (#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.
    • An RV posted for sale on the bulletin board at work gets 2.5 miles per gallon.

      Please don't compare RVs with cars. It would be absolutely impossible to make an RV get 30MPG like a one ton Saturn. RVs have to haul a huge ammout of weight, fight very strong headwinds, and still be able to get up to highway speeds.

      BUT, as the price of gasoline crosses $3.50 to 4.00/gal even my car will be too expensive to drive.

      That's all subjective. A great many people don't have the option of NOT driving, so even if the pr

  • by Detritus (11846) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:41PM (#13314068) Homepage
    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.
  • Ruins the batteries (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jsimon12 (207119) <tzzhc4&yahoo,com> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:57PM (#13314379) Homepage
    The issue with these modded Priuses is that they ruin the batteries draining them in this fashion.

    Personally, in my garage I have a car that runs on straight used frying oil which I get free from local resturants. Much cheaper and if I run out of veg oil I can run on diesel :)
  • by ipoverscsi (523760) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @11:29PM (#13314523)
    Implicit in many other posts is that it takes energy to move a car; if you're not getting it from gas you're simply getting it from somewhere else. If you really want to cut down on your energy consumption, drive less. Probably the largest energy savings you can get would be to live closer to where you work.

    But perhaps the best solution is getting your local government to support mixed use zoning. New Urbanism [newurbanism.org] is a great start, but not if these end up as islands in a sea of suburbia -- you'd just end up driving to get to them, sort of like a Universal Studio's City Walk. Relaxation of zoning and land-use laws in suburban areas would help even more. The ability to open a cafe on the corner of your subdivision -- or even in your own house -- would be a great way to create more local services that obviate the need for driving.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday August 14, 2005 @01:05AM (#13314900) Journal
    I'm not some depave the planet type, but these are the facts in my life and with the "ecology" of cars in general:

    1. I didn't get my license until I was 23, and then it was because my evil Evil EVIL ex-wife demanded that I learn how to drive. So I bludgered about in her POS Mercury Bobcat and got my license. The Bobcat (mercifully) self-destructed a few years later. So: first: DON'T DRIVE unless you have some psycho harpy bitch chewing you a new final voluntary sphincter (cuz it feels good, at first... nemmind...)

    2. I didn't own a car of my own until I was 27. A 1972 Chevy Nova. Got horrible mileage, but no one fucked with me over a parking space. It was olive green and nicknamed the Urban Assault Vehicle. After I put it into a guard rail doing about 95 dodging a fucking DEER in Pennsylvania (long story) I sold the parts for what I paid for the car - $425.

    3. I moved across the country after that and didn't own another car of my own for almost 5 years. When I did get one, it was an old Honda Civic wagon I bought for $800. I sold it a few years later to my sister for $700.

    4. In 1999 I bought my present vehicle, a 1991 Toyota Corolla. It gets about 27 mpg on the highway and about 19 in the city. It's old and dying and there is NO way it's going to pass Smog next month, so the State will take it off my hands for $1000.

    After that, I won't own a car, and I hope to never have to own another. If I DO buy another car, it will likely be an old used Geo Metro or an old Rabbit Diesel so I can run it on vegetable oil.

    If you REALLY want to do the Earth a BIG FAT FAVOUR DON'T buy a car. And if you do, buy a gas sipping used car. Why?

    1. The energy that went into making the car (which is about equal to the amount of energy the damn thing will consume) has already been spent.

    2. Buying a new car means that at your behest and convenience a lot of energy was spent making this energy sucking device.

    3. NOT using a car at all, or renting them when you need them, means that you have organised your life in such a way that they are no longer of use to you. And THAT is a good thing - I am convinced that Suburbia will prove to be the single most wasteful expense of resources the human species has ever endured.

    The best way to predict the future is to invent it. So LIVE THE FUTURE NOW. Get rid of your car. Move to a small (or even not so small) city that has decent public transport and RIDE A FUCKING BICYCLE. It rains where you live? Well, DRESS FOR IT or TAKE A TRAIN. In the town where you live, agitate for light rail, trolleys and suchlike.

    Make it happen. Hybrids are NOT a solution - they are just a less (and not very less) heinous face on a cancerous blight. The solution is energy curtailment and population reduction. I say, "Live it, or live with it.

    It's a bit like having bees live inside your head, but it's a really good BUZZ.

    RS

  • by JourneyExpertApe (906162) on Sunday August 14, 2005 @01:12AM (#13314925)
    The summary:
    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."


    From the article:
    By TIM MOLLOY, Associated Press Writer Sat Aug 13, 7:08 PM ET

    CORTE MADERA, Calif. - 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.

    Notice any similarity between the two? This is plagiarism [wikipedia.org]. If you're a regular reader of /., then you know that this is about as common as spelling or grammar errors in the summaries. I think how this happens is someone submits a story and just pastes the first couple paragraphs of the article into the "summary" section. Then the [sarcasm]highly competent slashdot editors[/sarcasm] skim the submission and post it on the main page without ever RTFA. Either that, or they don't understand what plagiarism is. So, they're either lazy or ignorant. I'm starting to think that CmdrTaco is not actually Rob Malda, but a Mexican migrant worker hired to accept slashdot submitions for $0.25/hr.

Living on Earth may be expensive, but it includes an annual free trip around the Sun.

Working...