[social_buttons] While we wait to see if General Motors will go banko come June 1, Raser Technologies is hoping to change our minds about one of GM’s most iconic offerings: the Humvee. During the upcoming 2009 SAE World Congress (Detroit, April 20 – 24) the company plans to unveil a Hummer H3 Range-Extended Electric Vehicle (ReEV) prototype. The vehicle is designed, first and foremost, as a purely electric vehicle with a drive train similar to the Voltec system in the Chevrolet Volt. “We are resurrecting the Hummer,” David West, vice president of marketing for Raser Technologies said, adding that “It’s like a Volt on steroids.”
There are quite a few three-wheelers these days: Aptera, Myers Motors and ZAP! Motors. And while those companies seem to be blocked from government funding, it isn’t stopping designers like 22-year-old Alex Hodge from New Zealand from churning out kickass mods like the Hawk. The Hawk concept is part fighter jet, part sports car, and looks like it’s balls-out fun! The concept is built around the 999cc Honda RC51 V-twin engine has 10,000 rpm, 120 hp and a top speed of 144 mph.
[social_buttons] Out on the dragstrip, one hardly expects the car kicking ass and taking names to be an old ’72 Datsun 1200. Especially when the losers are driving BMWs, Corvettes and Ferraris. But those guys didn’t get pwned by any ol’ Datsun…this one’s electric! It seems a bit like a paradox. Drag racing is flame-dipped muscle cars with bikini-clad hood ornaments spread over the hood. Electric cars, not so much.
[social_buttons] Dutch firm Green Fuel Systems, along with several other companies, has developed flex-fuel conversion kits for the Toyota Prius that cost less than $1,000. Converting our existing fleet to second-generation ethanol could be the best near-term play to directly replace fossil fuels. Although the concept of a hybrid/biofuel combo has been around for a while, it has (at least in our minds) mostly been in the form of diesel hybrids running on biodiesel (which isn’t going to happen). But what if we could take America’s most fuel efficient car and convert it to run on another domestically-produced renewable fuel: cellulosic ethanol?
[social_buttons] The 16 MPG F-150 is one of the most ubiquitous vehicles on the road today. What if you could convert them all to get 41 MPG? The Illinois Institute of Technology’s masters program has spun-off a start-up with big plans for our aging fleet of big trucks. The company, called Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technology (HEVT), has built a bolt-on module that will convert a standard F-150 into a 41 MPG plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). HEVT demo’d their first prototype at the Plug-In 2008 conference in San Jose earlier in the month. The suddenly attractive F-150 PHEV (which is not the 1994 model depicted above) gets 15 miles of emissions-free driving on electricity before it switches over to gas/electric hybrid mode, where it will continue to get an impressive 41 MPG...
Although it could be one of the ugliest car hacks I’ve ever seen, Mike Turner of Hodges, SC, modified his 1992 Honda Civic to get 70 MPG. As you can see in the picture and video clip, the modifications are relatively simple use of aluminum siding and plastic, which decrease wind resistance (vaguely reminding me of Aptera’s Typ1 electric car) and lowering the vehicle’s drag coefficient. It’s a much more extreme version of the modification seen on Ernie Rogers’ 76 MPG VW Beetle.
Photo Credits: deborah sherman photography The Cafe Racer Truck Runs on 100% Recycled Coffee Grounds A commenter on Ben’s wood-powered truck post pointed us to a similar car hack. The truck above is also powered by a wood gas generator, except this one runs on coffee grounds. The Cafe Racer is a 1975 GMC pickup that essentially burns up used coffee to create a combustible gas. The gas is filtered on its way to the engine and, Viola, a caffeine-powered truck.
I’ve heard of making fuel from wood before, but rarely does using wood as fuel come up. However, just today I was pointed to this site, hosted by a local radio station, with a real-life example of someone burning wood as a fuel in his truck. I can’t say for sure how the system works, whether it’s dual fuel or the wood-burning supplies all the fuel the engine needs, but it doesn’t appear to be a hoax and is certainly interesting. Evidently, during WWII, there was some experimenting with alternative fuels (due to shortages caused by the war), and one of the results was the wood burning automobile.
Recently Darin at EcoModder dug up a Car and Driver article from the middle of the US gas crisis in 1974. It may be a little dated, but considering recent gas price increases these kinds of DIY hacks are becoming relevant once again. The material prices may be a little different, the cars may be a lot different, but surprisingly little has changed in terms of fuel economy and gas prices. The Car and Driver article is interesting because not only is it old, but it’s still relevant today. As someone who has been around ecomodding for a while, I can vouch for the efficacy of many of these modifications, and have done some of them myself. So, if you’re really interested, I encourage you to get out there and do some yourself. None of them are engine modifications, or particularly di...
If you can’t buy the car you want, then build it. Gregg Abott (aka Gadget) custom-converts cars for a living, but instead of tricking out cars to run on biodiesel or get better mileage, he’s hacking them to run on electricity. He’s the owner of Left Coast Electric, a Santa Monica based company with a simple philosophy: “…if electric cars are going to make a difference, a lot of people have to drive them. They have to be made affordable.” Which means these guys aren’t putting out $100K Tesla Roadsters, but are converting older models to have the same functionality: So instead of building cars from the ground up, Gadget and his business partner, Roger Wilson, convert existing cars or shells of cars into electric vehicles by supplying or outfitting them wit...
Think you need a hybrid to get great mileage? Try a souped-down 1959 Opel T-1. In another tribute to high-mileage car hacks, a man named Evan McMullen rediscovered a 1975 Guiness-World Record-Setting car that got 376.59 MPG. It was wasting away in a museum in Florida: That number doesn’t come from some manta ray-shaped, wind tunnel-vetted carbon fiber space car. No, it’s from a chop-top, steel-frame 1959 Opel T-1 (think melting jelly bean, but uglier). And the record was set in 1973 in a contest sponsored by Shell Oil Co. Unfortunately, that contest-winning mileage number occurred on a closed track at a steady 30 mph. Not exactly highway speeds. Nonetheless, it makes you wonder about the evolution of automobile manufacturing in the last 50 years: