Dr. Charles Perry, former IBM engineer, had devised a kit that turns any car into a plug-in hybrid for as low as $3,000. He and his team at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) retrofitted a 1994 Honda station wagon and reported gas mileage increased from 50 to 100 percent.
According to Perry, the key aspect of the design is to make the plug-in operate independently from the car’s motor. Hence, the plug-in can be retrofitted to any car without altering its mechanical aspects such as bearings, brakes and suspensions.
The purpose of the hybrid plug-in is to increase the mileage of a gasoline-powered car by adding electric traction capabilities via a DC brushless motor attached on each rear wheel. A lithium-ion battery mounted at the trunk or rear of the car will power the motor.
The electric traction motor automatically turns on when the car accelerates. It provides a 200 foot-pound torque to each rear wheel of the vehicle. The system is marketed to double the mileage of a car when driving around town under 45 mph.
The team of students working with Perry has a range of capabilities to support the project, including expertise in mechanical design, electrical design, programming, computer numerical control machining and finite-elements analysis modeling.
Perry is currently talking to potential investors to help him launch his project out of the research laboratory into a showroom. He and his team had reached the proof of concept stage to prove feasibility. They are ready to deliver proof of product with proper funding. Investors, he adds, will like to see proven field-tested performance and reliability.
Perry further speculates that with improvements in lithium-ion battery design, the battery size could be greatly reduced in commercial models.