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A Hybrid Car With Detachable Engine Proposed 218

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

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  • by bobstreo (1320787) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:47PM (#39491373)

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

    • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:52PM (#39491409) Journal

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

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

      Not rocket science.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by s122604 (1018036)
        I drive 175 miles each way to work, towing my boat, the path is across pike's peak.
        Well this vehicle do that? No? Junk...
        • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:25PM (#39491623)

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

          • by Formalin (1945560)

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

          • On an average, Americans drive about 25 miles each way.

            There's a fly in that ointment. The larger western states, and especially California which is the largest car market in the United States, often feature commutes longer than 25 miles. In California commutes of 30+ miles one-way are routine for many people and even 60+ mile commutes are not uncommon. This is especially true in Southern California where people commute long distances to and from the Los Angeles area. It takes a while to get anywhere in California by car, it's not like back east where one can d

      • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:11PM (#39491545)

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

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

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

        Repeat as often as your addiction requires.

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

          If you want real news, you need to go out an find it for yourself. If the internets taught us anything it's that what the media has been feeding us for the past couple of hundred years was carefully orchestrated to sell us more news... not provide the news we needed.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mijxyphoid (1872142)

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

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

        Not rocket science.

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

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

        Taking a car to a garage for even minor work can be painful exercise in terms of taking time of work, having no

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

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

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

        • And what if I'm over in the next city, and a loved one on another continent has a heart attack? I'd really be kicking myself for not buying that Learjet.

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

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

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

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

        • With two competent helpers I can swap a Bug motor (not a Jeta motor as found in the new POS that shall not be named) in and out of a Baja bug in under 30 minutes.

          Which is not even close to a record (under 14 minutes last time I cared).

      • by alienzed (732782)
        Rocket science eh? Now that'd give it some real HP's.
      • Well, the application is obvious. The question is, would it sell?

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

      • by Zadaz (950521)

        No, not rocket science, but it increases the complexity (and therefore the price and maintenance cost) of something that already costs more than the market is willing to pay.

        I'm old enough to remember when they tried making cars that could be regular cars during the week and change into a pickup when the owner needed to haul stuff. That's a much simpler transition, and I'm sure it met someone's needs. But, man, they didn't sell at all.

    • by Ichijo (607641)

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

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

      I'd rather just carry around a power cord.

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

      • http://gm-volt.com/full-specifications/ [gm-volt.com]
        9.3 gallons of gas at 7.48lb per gallon is about 69.54 lb.
        And an inline 4 engine with 85.3 cu. displacement probably does not weigh more than 200 lb.
        I think Chevy claims all related systems for the combustion engine weigh 700 lb.
        • by nomel (244635)

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

          • Obvious troll but let me indulge you.
            The 2011 Chevrolet Volt does NOT have a direct mechanical connection between the engine and wheels. http://gm-volt.com/2010/06/30/combustion-engine-does-not-and-will-not-turn-the-volts-driveshaft-ever-got-it/ [gm-volt.com]
            Now off to your bridge.
            BTW my brother and I carried the motor and transmission (still bolted together) from my 95 neon about 50 ft. My weight 135lb, my brother 155lb. My neon motor is way bigger than the volt motor so I must be like Superman or something.
            • by robot256 (1635039)
              The Volt does have a 1:1 clutch between the drive train and the gas motor. This engages at highway speeds because when you go that fast, the electric motor has much less torque. This is why the Volt always outruns the Leaf when accelerating over 50 mph. But at all other times the gas engine is completely disconnected from the wheels.
              • You imply drive train as in a typical vehicle. Where you said drive train you should have said electric motor. Your statement is misleading.
                • As the electric motor is connected directly to a conventional drive train any direct connection to it, is a direct connection to the drive train. GPs statement is accurate.

              • by type40 (310531)

                This engages at highway speeds because when you go that fast, the electric motor has much less torque.

                [Pedantic point]
                The ICE in the Volt only clutches in when the car is in charge sustain mode. On a full battery it will hit the speed limiter without powering up the ICE.
                [/ Pedantic point]

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

              Not a 'direct connection', but the gas engine does, under certain circumstances, help propel the car.
              At least that's what the Volt chief engineer says. [plugincars.com]
    • O.K., so I've run the "convert my Miata to electric power" thought-game a few too many times, and what I almost invariably come up with is:

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

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

    • by F34nor (321515)

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

      • One moving part? I like a stiffer suspension then most but I _will_ take mine with the optional suspension please. I think disc brakes are a good idea as well. Regenerative brakes are fine, but I still think conventional brakes are not optional.

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        Cars with only one moving part lack the service requirements and will never be sold by the existing car companies.

        Then they'll get sold by the Teslas of the world instead... or any of the 10,000 Chinese companies now getting into low-end electric vehicles.

        The existing car companies can sell them too if they want; but if they don't, someone else will.

    • Everyone blathering about generators, go Google some. The backyard generators inflating Bouncy Castles at kids' parties that you're probably thinking of put out 3.5 kW or so. A 20 kW generator is a huge beast.

      And 20 kW is only 26 horsepower! Sure, a car on flat ground doesn't require a lot of power, but a fully-laden car going up a mountain pass (and now towing/carrying a generator!) requires a lot more than that. Car companies are justifiably afraid of the negative publicity from some car reviewer taking

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

    • by Animats (122034)

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

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

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

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

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

      • by haruchai (17472)
        They've delivered about 100 Renault Fluence ZEs in Israel, mostly to employees, and are nearly the official launch. They've deployed dozens of switch stations there, plus more in Denmark and lots of charge spots in several countries. And switch stations are designed to specifically address the recharging problem. Now it's possible that the venture will fail but that doesn't make it a scam.
        • Better Place certainly hasn't "deployed dozens of switch stations" in Israel.

          They built one battery switch station in Israel in 2011, there is zero evidence they've spent the millions to build any more. They've proudly videotaped installation of a few electrical outlets on posts as "charge spots". Those posts point out one of the problems with the BP model: since they own the pack and sell you electric miles, you are *required* to recharge with them, at much greater expense than plugging into an outlet your

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

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

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

    • If you're going to have part of the car detach you may as well take the back seat at the same time and save more weight. You drive your 2 seat electric to/from work all week, then swap in your station wagon back end with gas motor for the weekend cruise through the mountains.
    • by F34nor (321515)

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

  • Too much hassle. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:59PM (#39491465)

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

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

    • by timeOday (582209)
      But I look at how we use our minivan. On a normal day it never goes more than 50 miles. But then a few times per year we pack up everything and drive up to 800 miles in a day. This could work for us.

      What I really think makes the most sense is owning a car for normal uses (an electric minivan for us) and renting something else for trips. But for some reason, renting a large vehicle is crazy expensive. For example, renting a E350 van from Avis is almost 3 times (2.8 to be precise) as expensive as an Im

      • 1- Detroit builds a van by taking a car and stretching it. The resultant vehicle is overloaded on all the key parts, and therefore has a fraction of the lifespan of the original car. 2-vans get rented less, so you charge more to cover costs. 3-vans are considered luxury so you can charge more. 4- fewer rental places carry vans so less competition means you can charge more.
        • by timeOday (582209)

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

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

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

      • by MightyYar (622222)

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

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

        • by timeOday (582209)
          You are right about the peak demand problem, I found the same last time I wanted to rent a big SUV (which was of course on a holiday) - all gone. Smaller cars don't really have that problem because they are rented by business travelers, whose demand falls on holidays. Avis will even off you free weekend rentals if you rent with them enough - but of course who wants a rental car for two days over a non-holiday weekend?
  • Way too complex (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:17PM (#39491573) Homepage

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

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

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

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

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

    There are a few other issues with the concept.
    1. Who has the space for the device that swaps the big battery fro the gasoline moto

    • Swap stations work fine if you don't own the battery. Sell the car, rent the battery. Or better yet put induction coils or contacts in the road and charge your little electric commuter while you drive.
  • by FishTankX (1539069) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:52PM (#39491847)

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

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

    • by cynyr (703126)

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

    • A simple hookup for 40 amps at 500V. Good luck with the safety regulations. And convincing electric cars to add the port for this, and to reprogram their cars to support charging while under motion.

      The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genset_trailer [wikipedia.org] has been talked about for decades, but I just don't see it happening except amongst hobbyists. Even if they were available, most people will just rent a car/pick-up/minivan when their small EV doesn't meet a trip's requirements.

  • Just put a few of these change stations on the outskirts of the cities on the highway, so electric in town, drive a few hours to X, stop at a station on the way to get an engine and a full tank of gas, when you hit the other city swap the engine back for a battery. For people who drive a LOT in town they can keep the engine. Sounds very handy. Would need a ridiculous amount of infrastructure however.
  • 454 c.i. V8 engine module available soon.

  • I have written to Tesla and posted here about a similar idea.
    Basically, most cars are driven local 95-99% of the time. But for the odd time that you are taking a vacation, you could either attach a trailer OR a pack on the back. The pack would simply plug into the frame and have a max weight of say 150 LB. From that point, the pack/trailer contains a motor/generator, a wave disc generator, a fuel cell, more batteries, or even ultra-capacitors. With this approach, it makes it possible to rent small traile
    • by dgatwood (11270)

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

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

        With both of these approachs, the car is designed to have as much cargo space as possible. The only issue is that 100
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          The disadvantages of your approach are that A. it would significantly reduce the fuel economy (or electrical economy or whatever) of the vehicle because of all the extra wind resistance, and B. anything hanging below the rear bumper is likely to get scraped off or leave you stuck when you pull into any parking lot with a steep driveway.

          If you do it with a chamber in the floor of the trunk, it avoids both of those problems, and you can still hook up an external power trailer if you really wanted to do so (pr

          • When I trailer a boat, it knocks a couple of miles off the MPG. I would expect that by adding a generator on the outside like I suggest, that it would at most knock off a couple of MPGs. However, this is not meant for the average driving. If you need a car that needs to go past your battery range consistently, then you are better off with a regular gas/diesel car. However, most families in America have 2 cars. As such, one of them is ideal to convert to electric and then have available a unit like this to p
  • There is a problem with the all electric car, but it isn't really a technical problem, it is a poorly artificial legal problem created by our governments for the benefit of the insurance companies. The problem is that eventually everyone sees the need for a car with more range than the all electric car. So even if you want to save the earth and have clean air to breath, you don't buy an all electric car unless you are part of a multi-car household. I personally would buy one if I could, but the rare extende

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      I think there is a fairly straightforward solution to your dilemma -- buy an electric car, and then for your occasional long-distance trip, rent a car.

      Car rentals isn't too expensive (at least not for anyone who can afford to buy an electric car), and your own car's auto insurance will typically cover you while driving the rental car also.

    • by type40 (310531)

      And the cost of insuring two cars is simply prohibitive.

      I'm going to make a stab in the dark and assume you are a: single male, under 25 years of age, and live in a large metropolitan area.

      Dude,
      I've been there and I'm here to tell you, it gets better.
      I know it seems unfair that you get lumped in with all the other assholes in your age bracket.
      I use to pay $120 a month for liability coverage on a 1984 Plymouth Reliant.
      I know the feeling of watching that check you wrote to the insurance co annihilate you bank account.
      But someday you'll be 30 and the insurance comp

  • It would be a whole lot easier to just buy two cars, an electric and a petrol model. That way, you need not mess around with swapping schtuff, just take the other key.
    • Yea, two cars would be a good solution for anyone wanting an all-electric vehicle, if only they were not forced to pay twice for liability insurance. They could be the only person driving either car, and can't drive both at once, yet the states allow the insurance companies to charge the driver for liability insurance on each car. At current insurance rates that is a very significant amount of money, and makes owning a second car for that rare extended trip an out of the question option for someone wanting
  • Not a bad attempt, but I think what I'd really like to see is this sort of concept implemented to its full, logical extent, so you could start out by buying a small, low powered car, then change it bit by bit and end up with something with a big engine etc.

    IOW, something where every part fits on a set of standard frames, so you could change your car according to your needs and your wallet, and could combine any parts of any make. That's what I want :-)

  • Kinda reminds me of that song by King Missile [youtube.com].

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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