Published on July 26th, 2012 | by Christopher DeMorro8
Students Help Develop Plug-In Hybrid Retrofit Kit
Hybrids For The Masses
The MTSU students, led Dr. Charles Perry, have been working on this project since the last gas spike in 2008. Developed for front-wheel drive cars, the bolt-on hybrid kit uses an electric motor installed between the brake hub and wheel to send power to the back wheels. Utilized on a 1994 Honda Accord, the MTSU team saw gains of between 50% and 100% in fuel economy.
Yes, they basically doubled their fuel economy with a bolt-on hybrid kit, and what’s more, the estimated cost to sell this kit would be around $3,000. I know people who spend twice as much on turbocharger setups for their V8’s; I can tell you right now, lots of people would line up to buy such a retrofit kit if it came to market.
Not A New Idea, Just A Good One
Other companies, most notably XL Hybrids, are pursuing similar projects aimed at commercial fleet owners. The MTSU project seems like it might actually be something you or I could order from Summit Racing or Pep Boys. With the cost of gas creeping upwards again, interest in these projects will peak with prices.
That said, I do have some concerns. Their test car was a Honda Accord station wagon, which has room to spare. But the size of the battery and control unit might mean sacrificing a good bit of trunk space. Also, I worry about wear and tear on the rear wheels over the long term; this isn’t the kind of system I’d drop into a recently made car. I’m also hoping someone develops a version for rear-wheel drive cars…imagine how many hot rodders would line up to double their fuel economy from 15 mpg to 30? Hell, I know I would.