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Transportation Technology

DIY Hybrid Car Kit 309

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the elbow-grease-doesn't-pollute-but-may-cause-cancer dept.
Hybride And The Groom writes "Building hybrids uses machinery that pollutes the environment. The solution? Ship the parts of a hybrid individually and get your customers to put the car together themselves. That's exactly what Robert Q Riley Enterprises is doing, according to a story on CNet today, with its XR-3 hybrid. It'll cost you $25,000 for the bits, plus zero dollars in manufacture, I hope. Better yet, cough up $200 for the blueprints and schematics and even build the parts yourself. It's no secret that many hybrid drivers are smug enough as it is. Allow them to brag about having built the damn cars themselves and we might be entering obscenely smug territory."
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DIY Hybrid Car Kit

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  • Neat idea... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KGIII (973947) * on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:17PM (#24921737) Journal

    At least that one looks cool but, really, who has the time to do this? If they have the time then do they have the interest or the money?

    • Re:Neat idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:25PM (#24921867) Homepage Journal
      One could buy a new one of these [smartusa.com] for half of $25,000 for an even more smug satisfaction.

      Or, one could buy 10 or more easy-to-DIY-fix old VW beetles with enough spare parts and earth-frendliness to last a lifetime.
      • by zmollusc (763634) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:42PM (#24922131)

        Crimeny, having had a VW Beetle I would estimate that you would have to factor in the cost of a barn to keep enough spare exhausts, wings, sills, filler, primer, welding rods etc to keep 10 of the damn things operative (at least in the UK).

      • Re:Neat idea... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:44PM (#24922161) Homepage Journal

        Which is not a hybrid, but a standard gasoline engine (albeit a 1.0L gasoline engine)

      • Re:Neat idea... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:48PM (#24922235) Homepage

        Smarts aren't actually that fuel efficient -- 35mpg hwy/31mpg city if I remember correctly. It's not even a regular hybrid, let alone a *plug-in hybrid*, like this vehicle. Of course, for this vehicle, ignore the BS mileage figures; most EV and PHEV manufacturers come up with fake "mpg" figures that assume you drive X miles on electricity and Y miles on gasoline, where X is much greater than Y, and then ignore the electricity. Still, it's hugely beneficial. Even from our current grid, according to a DOE study, due to the greater efficiency of power plants, you get a third lower CO2 emissions by going electric.

        For those who are interested in going electric, and aren't into novelty kit cars, here's a list of 33 upcoming EVs and PHEVs [dailykos.com], excluding motorcycles and commercial vans/semis, not counting concept cars, and not counting cars from new companies that haven't shown compelling evidence of working toward production.

      • Re:Neat idea... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Paranatural (661514) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:31PM (#24923837)

        As an aside, I've never actually encountered a hybrid owner who was smug about it. A few of my friends own them and it has never even actually been mentioned other than when I was thinking of getting one and asked how it had been running.

        • Re:Neat idea... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Bearpaw (13080) on Monday September 08, 2008 @05:29PM (#24925617)

          I hear you.

          I have friends and acquaintances who own hybrids, I live in an area where they seem to be fairly common, and I have never, ever encountered anyone being smug about it. I have, however, gotten seriously tired of self-righteous people complaining about these supposed hordes of smug hybrid drivers.

          It seems to have become a requirement: "Any mention of hybrid vehicles must by law be accompanied by a reference to their smug owners."

          Want smug? Try talking to a Hummer owner.

    • by SydShamino (547793) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:57PM (#24922363)

      I have an old Miata that I will retire soon in favor of a car with a back seat. I plan to keep the car, and I've been seriously thinking about trying to convert it to electric. If I leave the transmission in place and just replace the engine, and use lead-acid batteries, I should be able to get a 25-mile range with overnight recharges.

      More importantly, it would give me a chance to feel things that aren't plastic, something that bothers me about modern life. I missed the opportunity to learn car work when my grandfather died young, and I've always regretted that. I already garden and have made a choice to devote more time to the acquisition and preparation of the foods I eat. Mechanical work is just an extension of that.

      ----------

      All that said, for $10,000 I could get a kit to build this car as electric only (lead-acid), and add the diesel engine later? Or I could get the car with a diesel engine and 125 MPG and add the electric system later when lithium ion batteries become cheaper? Both of those sound like pretty good deals to me.

      • Re:Neat idea... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:52PM (#24923263) Homepage

        Why lead-acid? I don't understand why so many EV converters use it nowadays. Because of its lower upfront costs? You're just wasting your money further down the road because you'll have to keep replacing them. Why not just install something that lasts, like lithium phosphate or stabilized spinel cells? You'll end up with a better handling, lighter-weight, more powerful, lower maintenance, faster charging vehicle to boot.

    • Re:Neat idea... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alisson (1040324) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:06PM (#24923485)

      Hey if your local mechanic already owns a yacht, he may as well build himself a prius :)

      But other than that, I agree. Who has the time and money? Upper management, and they don't have the interest. Who has the time and interest? Me, but I don't have the money!

    • by Bob-taro (996889) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:42PM (#24923999)

      At least that one looks cool but, really, who has the time to do this? If they have the time then do they have the interest or the money?

      Right, I mean, we all have time for slashdot, but you can't exactly build a car in your cubicle without people noticing!

  • by scarbelly (56894) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:18PM (#24921743)

    there are plenty of people doing nice electric S10's for under $10k including the donor car. The 40 miles round trip per charge is almost twice what I need.

    • by Rei (128717) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:54PM (#24922323) Homepage

      Sure, if a used vehicle, 40 miles range, 60mph top speed, very poor power, and having to replace your lead-acid batteries every 3-6 years is acceptable to you, then yes, you can do that. As for me, I need 100+ miles range, 80-90mph top speed, reasonable acceleration, and a battery pack that lasts the life of the vehicle. Hence, I'm on the waiting list for a $27k Aptera [daughtersoftiresias.org]. However, it's hardly the only such vehicle that's coming out in the next couple years; there are dozens. If, for some reason, Aptera weren't to work out, I'd probably go with a Mitsubishi i-MiEV. I just prefer the Aptera because of its extreme efficiency.

    • by rhpenguin (655576) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:00PM (#24922391)
      Heck yes! I'm actually building an EV S-10 right now.. I'm coming in at around $7K total build costs after selling the ICE and other ICE related objects I don't need. However, my range is going to be around 150 miles.
    • by StCredZero (169093) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:13PM (#24922587)

      If you sacrifice the bed, you can get a 92 mile range commuter vehicle out of an old S10.

      http://www.austinev.org/evinfo/build/eva-selectingavehicle.html [austinev.org]
      http://www.evalbum.com/037 [evalbum.com]

      That may be much more than what you need, but the less you draw down your batteries, the longer your batteries will last. If you never let your batteries drain below 95%, they will last much, much longer than if you're draining them halfway down every day. In the long run, this may save you a lot of money, as battery replacement is the majority of the cost per mile for running an electric vehicle.

  • by Mononoke (88668) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:19PM (#24921767) Homepage Journal

    It'll cost you $25,000 for the bits, plus zero dollars in manufacture, I hope.

    Only if your time is worth zero dollars.

    • by pecosdave (536896) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:23PM (#24921841) Homepage Journal

      I know some people like that. Unfortunately, since there time is actually worth close to zero dollars asking them to build it for me would get me close to zero progress wouldn't it? Actually my guess is they would screw it up so bad I would have to throw it all out and buy another kit if I tried to get them to build it for me.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:28PM (#24921919)
      Same goes for the zero pollution to manufacture; last time I checked, it takes food, shelter, diversions, etc. to "power" a human. I wouldn't be surprised if having people build things by hand polluted the environment more than by machine. Sure, the machine generates more obvious pollution, but it's building them tens to hundreds as times as fast as a human.
      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:47PM (#24922221) Homepage Journal

        Same goes for the zero pollution to manufacture; last time I checked, it takes food, shelter, diversions, etc. to "power" a human. I wouldn't be surprised if having people build things by hand polluted the environment more than by machine.

        And that same human requires those same things regardless of whether or not he's building a car from a kit, right? At least until we can manage to make cryostasis actually work that is.

        • by Rei (128717) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:18PM (#24922701) Homepage

          Not exactly. Exercise increases the rate of burning calories (that's why people who want to lose weight do it). The human body is inefficient about turning food calories into kinetic energy, and plants are inefficient at turning sunlight into calories (photosynthesis is fairly efficient, but most of the energy doesn't end up stored in a way we can recover through digestion -- usually somewhere between a fraction of one percent and a few percent is). And there's all of the energy involved in growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting that food, which is often greater than the energy contained in the food.

          Lastly, there's a value to time. The person could instead, for example, be building wind turbines or installing solar arrays. The biggest reason why this is a kit car is almost certainly because the maker didn't want to have to work out a cost-effective mass production system, not because it's somehow better for the environment that way.

          • by Dare nMc (468959) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:57PM (#24923353)

            The biggest reason why this is a kit car is almost certainly because

            my guess would be so they don't have to pass all the crash and safety laws and regulations. much like kit airplanes, kit cars do not have to pass the same safety standards (which I understand involves destroying many cars = bad for the environment)
            I am sure their are lots of other savings as well (shipping, licensing, financing, etc.) Also lots less warranty, because it will be on average years before many make any use of their cars.

      • by Shotgun (30919) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:30PM (#24923815)

        Having nearly completed building a one-off airplane, I can attest to the fact that a one-off greatly increases the amount of 'stuff' going into the waste stream. It seems that each part made for the airplane requires a mold, jig or custom clamp to hold it in place. Buy the time I finish, I will have built the equivalent of 2.5 airplanes, and none of those molds, jigs or clamps will be useful to anyone else.

        Let there be no doubt. Massive manufacturing operations really do decrease the waste-stream volume on a per unit basis.

    • by Qzukk (229616) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:41PM (#24922121) Journal

      Only if your time is worth zero dollars.

      Or the entertainment you receive from putting together your own toys is greater than the cost of your time, in which case you might even "profit".

    • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:46PM (#24922203)

      It'll cost you $25,000 for the bits, plus zero dollars in manufacture, I hope.

      Only if your time is worth zero dollars.

      So just like Open Source Software, then.

      It should go over very well here.

      For the record, if my car wasn't under a very comprehensive warranty for the next five years, I'd order the parts and do the conversion just so I could say that I'd done it.

    • Spare time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phorm (591458) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:56PM (#24922353) Journal

      Well, if you enjoy tinkering with stuff and would otherwise have the time free anyhow, then it might even be that the time is of a negative cost.

      That is to say, if you spend $25k for the unit, but spend 200 hours being rather entertained by putting it together, then you've just spend $25k on the parts and saved $x on whatever else you might have spend that money on (movies, video games, trips, etc).

      I do a lot of the additions/repairs around the house. If might cost *more* than a plumber/carpenter/etc if you count what my day job's hourly rate is, but for me the cost of supplies is paying for both the renos and the entertainment of doing them.

      One man's burden is another man's leisure, I'd rather be working on neat projects around the house than baking under a hot sun swinging a stick at a dimpled white ball.

      • Re:Spare time (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:45PM (#24924049) Homepage

        I do a lot of the additions/repairs around the house. If might cost *more* than a plumber/carpenter/etc if you count what my day job's hourly rate is, but for me the cost of supplies is paying for both the renos and the entertainment of doing them.

        Especially since the comparison between your hourly wage and the time you spent doing the plumbing, carpentry, whatever is probably specious.

        I mean, I might be able to make say $40/hr as a freelance contract programmer, but I'd be lucky to get paid at all to do plumbing or carpentry or automobile assembly/modification. Hell, I'd be lucky not to end up negative if I was doing work on someone else's stuff after they got done suing me for the damage I did. So how can I say that doing any of those things in my spare time is "costing" me $40/hr?

        So to Mr. "Only if your time has zero value" OP, well yeah it probably does have zero value! How much do you get paid to sit on your ass and watch TV? Just don't spend so much time working on your kit-car that it cuts into your paid work hours, and yes it really has cost you nothing. And, like phrom here says, if you actually enjoy doing this kind of thing, you may end up being ahead of the game by some metrics.

    • by Kingrames (858416) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:00PM (#24922395)
      I move at light speed, you insensitive clod!
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:19PM (#24921769)

    Like so many of these things, it's a motorcycle - not a car. It only has 3 wheels so that they don't have to meet safety standards.

    Who knew you could lighten up a car if you stripped out all of the safety equipment?

    • and good luck... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spookymonster (238226) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:27PM (#24921909)

      ...getting it insured. Just ask anyone who's ever built one of those DIY motorcycle kits or a custom shop (like OCC).

    • by DigitalReverend (901909) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:49PM (#24922251)

      It depends upon the regulations of the state or province. In British Columbia, Canada, a three-wheeled vehicle with an enclosed passenger compartment is considered an automobile. Some states call vehicles with 2 front wheels and 1 rear wheel cars, while others call the motorcycles. Some places it's a matter of engine displacement, body styles, etc.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:51PM (#24922287) Homepage

      Who knew you could lighten up a car if you stripped out all of the safety equipment?

      That's pretty much what American car manufacturers do anyway, which is why they don't sell in the UK or EU. The insurance conditions are so onerous for some makes of American car that you're going to be taking the bus most days.

      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:13PM (#24922589) Homepage Journal

        Ummm.. Actually US safety requirements tend to be greater than EU requirements.
        The reason that US cars tend not to be sold in the UK is the UK is too small of a market to build for. That RHD thing. US cars are not designed to be easy to convert.
        You can buy a few US cars in the UK. The Corvette for one.
        For the rest of the EU there is no real need to sell US cars there except for a few like the Corvette. Ford has is in Europe as is GM. Probably the big reason that US cars cost so much to insure in the EU is that they cost so much to repair. There are not that many so parts are expensive. Same as in the US. I can buy 3 alternators for a Ford or even a Toyota for the cost of one for my old Saab 9000.

        For the longest time you didn't see many European cars in the US for the reasons you gave. The US for many years had much higher pollution and safety requirements than most of Europe.

    • by Rei (128717) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:08PM (#24922493) Homepage

      Not *having* to meet safety standards != Not meeting safety standards. There are about a dozen advantages to the tadpole trike design -- reduced wind resistance, lighter weight, lower construction cost, lower maintenance, drivetrain simplicity, and so on. Honestly, I'd love it if we:

      A) Ditched our classification system based on the number of wheels
      B) Came up with a set of environmental and safety classifications that vehicles could voluntarily choose to try to qualify for
      C) Required that their environmental and safety classifications be prominently listed on vehicles for sale
      D) Banned vehicles that don't meet given requirements from different kinds of operation -- for example, perhaps to drive on a public road at all, you must meet at least "silver" environmental standards, and to drive on a highway, you must meet at least "bronze" safety standards, while for a child to ride in a vehicle on any public road, it has to have at least a "silver" safety rating. Something to that nature.

      I don't see why those who want to innovate should be penalized for doing so. All that should matter is the net results: how safe it is and how clean it is. And furthermore, if I want to buy and drive a deathtrap, so long as it's not needlessly endangering *others*, that should be my choice and my choice alone.

    • by hAckz0r (989977) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:10PM (#24922525)
      While I agree with your assessment, there are some things to consider as well.

      First, its design is far safer than a motorcycle. In fact its safer than a trike, because most all three wheelers to date are made backwards, in that they are completely unstable while decelerating on a turn. This one is the right way around so it is much more stable during the evasive manoeuvres that count. I don't care a whole hill of beans how fast a vehicle accelerates, but its got to stop fast without flipping over or its just not safe enough to drive. If you added an active stability control system to this machine you would have a safer machine than most inexpensive cars on the street.

      Second, loosing a wheel (4->3) does shed a lot of weight, and gives a major boost to the power weight ratio which directly translates to MPG. There is no 4 wheeled EV that is capable of making my home-to-work round trip, or I'd have bought it in a heart beat. By my own calculations I believe a three wheeled EV/Hybrid could do it easily. My poor Prius just broke 100K last week, and its less than 3 years old. I had played with the idea of designing and building something very close to this vehicle myself but I don't have nearly the kind of time needed to actually build one, and like many others have noted here, how do you get permission to actually put one on the road? If it does qualify as a motorcycle that would be a good thing. A kit would be nice, but I'd much rather buy one off the lot, which due to availability won't be happening any time soon.

      If I could buy this off the lot I'd probably do it in a heartbeat.

      • by Rakishi (759894) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:25PM (#24922833)

        The way I understand it a motorcycle really has one and only one safety feature, maneuverability. You don't ever want to get hit and if you're careful you can often avoid getting hit when a car wouldn't be able to. A car on the other hand has size, crumple zones, mass, multiple airbags, decently strong building materials and so on which let it it take a hit without killing the occupants. This thing seems to fail under both criteria.

  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:19PM (#24921773) Journal

    Building hybrids uses machinery that pollutes the environment. The solution? Don't build anything!

    That said, though, I looked up what would be required to build an all-electric vehicle and it was about $10k not including a vehicle to convert. Not a cheap hobby, unfortunately :/
    =Smidge=

    • by Brigadier (12956) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:28PM (#24921937)

      most hybrids (GM) at least basically have a motor wedged between the engine and transmission. The engine and drive line are exactly the same as the non hybrid versions.

      This being said I recently purchased a trusty 92 Corolla which after a little tweaking and cleaning up gives me over 40 mpg. how hard would it be to mfg a adapter kit between the transmission and engine similar to what GM does.

      a big part of the problem is we keep building unnecessary crap. I know in our economy this is not beneficial but why not take cars we already have and update them.

      • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:39PM (#24922087)

        a big part of the problem is we keep building unnecessary crap.

        I agree with you on most things, but cars are actually very highly-recycled. Advances in automotive technology reduce pollution and increase safety. Plus, old cars do simply wear out.

        I'm actually fairly glad that the road isn't full of '92 Corollas :)

      • Most any of the old Honda CRX models, especially before '99, deliver excellent mileage, near equal to a Prius on the highway. Seems a shame the ricers gut them thinking they will ever drive like FnF. Especially when the driver tops 250lb...

      • by Smidge204 (605297) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:01PM (#24922409) Journal

        An adapter kit as you describe would involve a clutch of some sort (to decouple the ICE) and essentially an oversize starer motor. not really THAT difficult but space might be an issue on some vehicles. The spur tooth of the flywheel is not intended for serious power transmission and would have to be swapped out for something that is. Don't forget lubrication either! Power transmission in constant-contact gears will need a recycling oiling system separate from the engine's.

        I have seen some kits that essentially mount an electric motor in place of the alternator (with appropriate electronics to charge the battery). The idea behind them is that, during periods of high load such as accelerating of hill climbing, these motors kick in to provide a little extra umph from a dedicated (but standard) battery. Not really a hybrid in the common sense of the word but not a bad option either depending on your driving habits... advantage here is you only need a pulley upgrade and an extra belt or two. They wear out but don't need lube.

        One thing I've thought about is a kit that replaces a portion of the drive shaft (rear wheel drive only, obviously). Electric motors do just fine at high RPMs and mounting one AFTER the transmission would improve efficiency, especially if it's an automatic. You also have more room to play with compared to the gap between engine and transmission.
        =Smidge=

    • by Kingrames (858416) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:01PM (#24922401)
      yes but you make up for that at the first trip to the pump.
  • by pecosdave (536896) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:19PM (#24921797) Homepage Journal

    By providing prints and the ability to build parts/put the damned thing together to begin with it's not to give smug yuppies something to be conceded about. It's to give hotrodders the ability to make supped up hybrid! Seriously, I would love to get most of one of these kits, put two kits into a car if possible for the extra kick, throw in a powerful V6 instead of a four (or even three) banger, then put it all in the body of a Dodge Charger.

    The electric part could actually take it off the line better than a gas engine, the gas engine would add the power, something like that should kick ass on the quarter mile then do a relatively slow victory lap without using any gas.

  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1@@@yahoo...com> on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:21PM (#24921811) Journal

    Why not design the car yourself - using bits and pieces found at your local junkyard? Better yet - smelt the metal in your garage and take up blacksmithing to make all the bits. Sort of like building your own computer from discrete transistors.

    • Re:Why stop there? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:49PM (#24922257)

      Why not design the car yourself - using bits and pieces found at your local junkyard? Better yet - smelt the metal in your garage and take up blacksmithing to make all the bits. Sort of like building your own computer from discrete transistors.

      If you haven't built a small computer from discrete components, I'd say that you may have some gaps in your understanding.

      It's a real pain, but there is a certain satisfaction of manually triggering the cycles and watching it read and write.

    • by phorm (591458) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:59PM (#24922383) Journal

      Well for those that would have the money to buy something like this, and the time to put it together, doing the above (or at least some of the above) might actually be a fun hobby.

      It's not like people don't invest a lot of time and cash into restoring old cars or modding their own vehicles, after all.

      Personally I want a Delorian with a flux capacitor...

  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:22PM (#24921825)

    Uh, building a hybrid at home probably makes more pollution than making it in a factory.

    The reason they sell it as a kit is to avoid all the federal vehicle rules. By passing on assembly to the end-user, it becomes THEIR problem to get the car licensed.

    Also I don't quite get the "zero dollars to manufacture". Lots of the steps involve lots of time, welding, painting, trips to the hardware store. That all costs many $$$.

    • by thered2001 (1257950) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:32PM (#24921999) Journal
      I agree completely. The first part of this article makes an assumption which doesn't seem too solid: that automotive machinery pollutes. If this is a reference to the byproducts of the power generated to run the machines, then I fail to see how running smaller machines in your home will improve the situation. Plus, power (and pollution?) is still needed to make the parts for a car no matter who puts it together. Sounds like someone is just trying to appear 'green' and cash in on the hybrid craze with kit 'car' (actually a motorcycle as an astute reader notes above).
    • by PPH (736903) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:47PM (#24922217)

      The reason they sell it as a kit is to avoid all the federal vehicle rules. By passing on assembly to the end-user, it becomes THEIR problem to get the car licensed.

      Good point. But to be accurate, the licensing becomes a non-issue. You start with a car complete with license. Then you mod it. Once you have a license, you can do pretty much anything you want with a vehicle, so long as you leave the safety and emission equipment needed for inspections intact.

      The other advantage is that federal regs mandating manufacturer warranties don't apply. This is what killed GM's EV1. The requirement to provide spare parts for a few thousand cars would have cost GM millions (think batteries).

  • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:24PM (#24921853) Journal

    Building hybrids uses machinery that pollutes the environment. The solution? Ship the parts of a hybrid individually and get your customers to put the car together themselves.

    And you plan on shipping those parts using what exactly? I'm willing to be that the energy used to plant-machine the car then drive it to my house on hybrid power, and the energy used to fossil-fueled 18-wheeler ship a ton of crap to my house are at least on par-- if the latter is not even worse.

    And what about packaging? Because seriously, if this is what cmos batteries [thedailywtf.com] take to ship, I'd had to see how many Styrofoam peanuts go into shipping a car.

  • Safety (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:29PM (#24921951)
    So has this thing been crash tested? Do you have to get the car certified after you build it, so that you can drive it on the road? Are you any more liable if anything happens to a passenger, motorist, or pedestrian, in such a car?
  • by Nymz (905908) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:30PM (#24921961) Journal
    • Building you own car is cool.
    • Minimizing pollution is cool.
    • Using pseudo-science to scare people, promote your carbon-tax moneymaking scams, and further turn governments into over reaching big-brother nanny-states is uncool.
  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:31PM (#24921985)

    So, what happens when I build this thing, and try to get it registered at my local DMV?

    DMV Drone: Make?
    Me: Me
    DMV Drone: No, who is the manufacturer?
    Me: Me
    DMV Drone: (sigh). Model?
    Me: Mostly done in Solidworks.
    DMV Drone: NEXT!

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:48PM (#24922231) Journal

      Dude, you've got it all wrong. Let me help you fix it:

      Me: *walks into DMV office*
      DMV Drone #1: (on personal phone call) Yeah, like whatever!
      DMV Drone #1: Yeah, totally!
      DMV Drone #1: Oh, she needs to dump that loser!
      DMV Drone #2: (just finishing up with guy ahead of you in line) Well, it's about lunch time! I'll be back in two hours. (puts up "next window" sign with an arrow pointing to drone #1)
      Me: Can you help me?
      DMV Drone #1: Ugh, can you hang on a minute? WHAT?!?!?!

    • Re:Registration? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Migraineman (632203) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:49PM (#24922259)
      First, it's a motorcycle in the US, so that eliminates most of the headaches. Second, it's a lot like registering a self-built trailer from a kit. You put it together, grab all your receipts, and head down to the State Sherrif's office for a safety inspection. Some states allow third-party inspections, so you might go that route. As you're not a "vehicle manufacturer," you aren't permitted to issue VIN numbers, and you don't have a title yet, so you use something called a "certificate of origin" to get your local DMV to create a title for you. AFAIK, the certificate of origin allows the DMV to tax you appropriately ... how else would they know how to value your custom-built creation? I built a trailer from a kit (Haulin' flatbed [haulin.com] from the local Home Despot.) It came with a certificate of origin. I took that, the purchase receipt, and a gas-station inspection to the local DMV, and all was well.

      Cars are a completely different matter, as the auto manufacturers have lobbied to make sure it's illegal for you to make your own car. Think of the children, etc. There are special categories for Antique and Street Rod cars, but there are restrictions against using them as daily drivers. However, trailers and motorcycles are still viable.
  • Hard Numbers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by overtly_demure (1024363) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:33PM (#24922013) Homepage Journal
    Can someone point us to hard data comparing overall carbon footprint, actual mileage, monetary cost to the consumer, environmental impact, etc. comparing hybrids and conventional cars? I am wondering specifically if the Prius beats a Corolla over a five-year span as a commute car. I suspect it does not, but do not have the facts.
  • RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ritchie70 (860516) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:33PM (#24922017) Journal

    From the web site:

    Although the XR-3 can be built just as the prototype was built, kits are on the agenda. Information will appear on this page as it becomes available. But the XR3 can be constructed using the same techniques used to build Tri-Magnum. Click on FRP/foam composite for a document that shows the composite system used to build the body for the XR3.
                        A knocked-down body kit consisting of pre-molded panels provides the greatest benefit at the least cost. So body kits will be supplied as unassembled panels that builders can bond together. In addition to enabling the lowest price, this type of kit also reduces packaging and shipping costs. Frame kits will consist of a welded-together assembly, which turns the project into mostly a bolt-together operation. The goal is to deliver the greatest benefit at the lowest possible price, and avoid supplying parts that you can purchase locally.
                        The price of kits has not been established.

    So the $25,000 is a guess at what you might be able to buy parts to build it for. It isn't an offer to sell a kit.

  • by acon1modm (1009947) * on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:34PM (#24922019)
    All I want is a light, very efficient hybrid/electric vehicle, that doesn't look ridiculous. Even if its stripped down for weight, add a plastic body that has the same rough shape as a "real" car. I hope every innovation doesn't have to look like something brought here by Mork from Ork.
  • by davmoo (63521) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:37PM (#24922057)

    I don't see how this eliminates the carbon footprint of building the car. It only moves it. Unless all of your tools are alternative energy powered, and the vehicles used to deliver the parts to you are likewise alternative energy powered, nothing has been accomplished here except moving where the carbon has been emitted. I fail to see how this helps the planet.

    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Monday September 08, 2008 @07:23PM (#24926957) Homepage Journal

      Maybe, but I don't think so.

      The point of a hybrid is two fold, one is that energy wasted during braking is recovered and reused, and the charging is done at an RPM where the engine at its most efficient. It can be a smaller engine with less gas to produce a certain amount of energy.

      A plug-in hybrid can use a more efficient power source on the grid. Even if it's from a coal plant, it's still considerably more efficient than an internal combustion engine.

      The tools, welding and so on, are really a pittance compared to the amount of energy consumed in a gas engine. Think of it this way, one horsepower is about 3/4ths of a kilowatt. If you're getting 100hp on a car engine, that's 75 kilowatts. And a lot of people drive an hour a day, 20 days a month, 1,500 kWhr of energy produced in a month.

  • by Ritchie70 (860516) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:39PM (#24922091) Journal
    The "tractor engine" spec'd for the diesel propulsion is the Kubota D902. Here's some information about that, from http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-3241283/Three-new-models-for-Kubota.html [ecnext.com]

    The D902, a three-cylinder version of the Z602, has a displacement of 0.898 L and an output of 20.6 hp at 3200 rpm. A 3600 rpm version, due for introduction next year, will be rated 23.5 hp.

    I also looked for a price on this engine. The first I saw was about $2800 for a remanufactured unit, with a $700 core charge. It's used in bobcats and similar. If you're building this "car," you won't have a core, so it's going to cost you $3500.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:39PM (#24922095) Journal
    I figure that if they are selling the frame, drive train, and batteries, then they can allow companies or individuals to put their own cars together. The idea of a kit makes sense. It would be extremely interesting, if Tesla's next car is built to allow for an energy generator to be added. i.e. a plugable system. That way, it encourages new add-ons.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:41PM (#24922125)

    I submit that this project, though good in itself, would be of no use and therefore a waste of time in Ontario, Canada because the government over there will not license a similar project from a local manufacturer, Zenn http://www.zenncars.com/ [zenncars.com].

    You wonder who these folks in government are working for. I suspect that they are protecting big oil.

    Their argument is that these cars have not been proven to be safe on [Canadian] roads, though these same cars are available in the USA where they have not caused any trouble.

    Has anyone used these cars? How do they perform?

  • Genious! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spectro (80839) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:42PM (#24922139) Homepage

    I think this guy is pure genius.

    Instead of creating his own auto factory and taking years of research, development, marketing, and infrastructure, he just sells out the blueprints so you can build it yourself.

    He doesn't have to worry about competing with other auto manufacturers, pressure from Oil companies or ambulance chasers suing him because of some manufacturing flaw.

    How long until somebody else takes his design and builds something much better? I would love to see the mythbusters guys building one of these.

  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:47PM (#24922211) Journal

    "...and performance like a conventional automobile."

    With a top speed of 80, I don't think so. Except maybe during LA at crunch time, this car would get run over on pretty much another highway system going as slow as 80 MPH.

    If you only intent to use it to commute to work and you don't need the highways, then maybe this is the car for you. But at $25k, you would have to commute to work for many years to recoup the investment.

    Now, if you buy it for the ego factor, well then! $25k is cheap. But, I gotta say...when are these specialty car makers going to figure out that if they really want to impact the market, they are gonna have to offer up a price of $12k to attract the people who could really benefit from a 125 MPG vehicle? The average factory worker making $10/hr could really use this car, that is, if they can even afford a second car. This car ain't exactly family friendly, so maybe even Joe Bob Factory worker would never buy this car.

  • Green Gimmicks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:48PM (#24922239) Homepage Journal

    Building hybrids uses machinery that pollutes the environment. The solution? Ship the parts of a hybrid individually and get your customers to put the car together themselves.

    And shipping stuff doesn't pollute the environment? You ship a bunch of parts to somebody, and it's going to go by diesel truck, diesel-powered ship, and jet airplane, all notorious polluters. Plus all the boxes and packing materials are going to go into the trash bin and/or recycling bin, where they will be hauled away by still more diesel trucks.

    I'm getting a little tired of these green gimmicks. People think they can spend a little money or put up with a little inconvenience and Save the Planet. They're fooling themselves — and supplying material to those Nuke the Whales assholes who think the solution to all environmental issues is to poke fun at environmentalists.

    If you really want to StP, agitate for real measures. Unfortunately, real measures hurt: taxes on non-renewable resources, taxes on pollution, putting up with slow and inconvenient public transit instead of convenient private vehicles, using less convenient forms of distribution that don't rely on monumental use of packaging.

    As any athlete will tell you, change hurts. People who want to be green without making real sacrifices are as much in denial as any global warming "skeptic".

  • Underwhelmed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Unit3 (10444) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:51PM (#24922281) Homepage

    Great idea, too bad it's fugly, more expensive than Honda's new hybrid at $25k, and basically just a motorcycle.

    Call me when they make a Prius kit, or a drop in electric engine replacement for the Civic. ;)

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:54PM (#24922327) Homepage

    rqriley has been selling "plans" for decades. they have been trying to get people to build the tri-magnum for 30 years without success...

    http://www.rqriley.com/tri-mag.html [rqriley.com]

    anyone with an ounce of mechnaical skill can do that without the "plans" and a regular car in less time with less cost.

    Hell go get a smashed prius, a light car you want to make a hybrid and simply put the drivetrain in the car. All done, really easy and not rocket science.

    Hell it's not hard to replace the ECM for the prius with something that is more hackable if you really wanted to.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Monday September 08, 2008 @02:02PM (#24922417)

    Allow them to brag about having built the damn cars themselves and we might be entering obscenely smug territory."

    Yeah, but by then their smugness is pretty much warranted.

  • by zullnero (833754) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:45PM (#24924041) Homepage
    I put together and drive cars that look like 1950's alien spaceships. It's just my thing, you know.
  • by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Monday September 08, 2008 @04:31PM (#24924715)

    1. Microcars are so short that any non-professional driver of any vehicle with an elevated driving position is not going to see them, and you do not want to be hit by a large vehicle in a Microcar.

    2. They're pretty much useless in snow or mud.

    3. Without adequate alternative electricity sources, plug-in cars run on coal. The energy per unit of pollution is better than gasoline, but when people drive more because they don't have to pay for gas...

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