When I met JRP3 on Pennock's Fiero Forum, it was all because of a few threads on alternative propulsion and, more specifically, EV concepts and technologies. Despite my skepticism, he chomped down and hung on like an angry pit bull and eventually convinced me of the merits of electric. My original idea was to turn my daily driver/concept car project into a high performance hybrid, with the original ICE powertrain driving the front wheels, and a complete electric powertrain pushing from behind. The problem was batteries. No matter how we sliced it it was going to be too heavy to even consider seriously.
My how things have changed! First, I now have the Inhaler to fulfill my racing and serious performance goals. Secondly, battery technology has come along way over the past two years. It is now possible, for a price, to put together a battery pack that would give good (street vehicle) performance, without turning the whole package into a bloated, waddling, pig of a car.
I am not 100% sold on doing this yet, but I want
to do it. I decided to start this thread to, hopefully, get some input and actively track new technologies and ideas that could make it a reality. I am giving serious thought to starting with a stop-n-go traffic booster system. That way I can get some experience with a low-cost, lightweight, system that can be upgraded over time. So far, all I have for it is a Toyota Celica GTS differential. I had a couple 6.7" motors, but sold them because I want at least an 8 or 9" motor. The smaller motor would have been working too hard to move the vehicle. We're probably talking 5-10mph here, for rush-hour city traffic. I'll keep my eye out for a good deal on a used forklift motor, when I have a few extra dollars.
The biggest issue that kept me from doing this is I will have to build a new subframe for the rear of the car, and cut out some of the factory structure, to fit the electric powertrain. I will also most likely have to build a new gas tank, in a u-shape, to fit the motor between the rear seats (I plan to switch to rear bucket seats). I'll probably extend the tank up a bit higher under the seats to regain the capacity. None of this is really a problem for me to fabricate, I just don't have the time to do it right now. I am currently working on Tailfeather's concept bodywork, and on the Inhaler's chassis, so I don't need to add anything to my plate right now.
Here's what it's going to look like, someday:
The biggest issue I have to figure out is how the two powertrains will be controlled and meshed. I have been toying with the idea of converting the ICE to drive-by-wire. That would allow me to have a switch that can toggle between ICE, electric, or combined. In heavy traffic I can switch the ICE throttle pot off and creep forward with the e-motor, while the ICE idles, keeping all the ancillary systems operational. When the pace picks up just select the appropriate gear and switch over to ICE. With some practice I could probably get pretty smooth with the transistion - plus I have a clutch pedal to ease the ICE back in. Eventually, as I built up more power and range in the battery pack, I can start doing more speed and longer distances with the electric powertrain. Ultimately, it would be nice to have the typical 40-50 mile range on electric, then switch to gas.
Eventually it would be nice to have an electronic control unit to determine what powertrain should be doing what, but that's a long-term goal. I have no problem with manually controlling both systems for a while.
As for weight, I would like to have no more than 400-500lbs in the complete electric powertrain. I have at least a couple hundred extra pounds of fiberglass composite body plugs on the car now. I will shave almost all of that off when the final carbon fiber/composite bodywork replaces it. I think I can remove the other half with more composite panels, careful design of the new subframe, and lots of aluminum suspension pieces. The factory subframe and rear suspension look heavy (all steel).
The car gets 25-30mpg around town, and 35 highway, even with the extra weight and rough bodywork. If I can keep the weight the same or lighter I could continuously improve that with increasing use of the electric powertrain. It should be under 3000lbs total - I'm aiming for about 2800. The reason I can come in that light with two powertrains is it's a 1991 model that was 2700-2800lbs new. The new cars this size are substantially heavier due to crash standards and ever-increasing amounts of creature comforts.
I'll post some pictures of the bodywork being developed if people want to see them. I also have some CAD work I'll dig out and post of a chassis I was working on, and some parts.
Did you really just read all that?