Hybrids: heresy or handy?

Open for any sort of non-technical discussion regarding EVs
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Hybrids: heresy or handy?

Post by coulomb »

This potential conversion struck me recently:

http://evalbum.com/2748

1150 kg kerb weight, of which about 100 kg is engine. In his case, the ICE is only about 10% of the total weight of the vehicle. Even with a typical conversion, the engine might be 125 kg, with exhaust, radiator etc. taking it up to 150 kg. So perhaps 15% of a small vehicle. The gearbox might be another 50 kg, but for performance conversions you often want to keep the gearbox.

Of course, we usually like to rip out the engine from the original car because we need space for batteries. But what if you had and original vehicle that didn't need much space for batteries, even includes some high voltage batteries already? I'm thinking of course of the only truly mass produced hybrid car to date, the Toyota Prius.

They've been manufactured for 10 years now, and the third generation is on sale now in Japan. The 2010 Prius will probably be available in Australia in August. It's probably going to be too expensive for me to fiddle with.

However, the second generation became available in Australia some time in 2003. So you can buy second generation models for well under $20,000. Electric air conditioning and power steering are standard. There is a 50 kW and a 30 kW (from memory) PM synchronous motor, with inverters and a power converter. The only problem has been getting the car to work in pure electric mode, and this problem seems to have been overcome now. Sure, you can take out the ICE, and with a little welding convert the torqe splitter device into a straight through 1:1 gearbox (e.g. see this page).

But why sacrifice effectively unlimited range for that extra 15% of weight saving? The Prius comes with a Nickel Metal Hydride battery, which doesn't have the energy density of Lithium. Plus, there is a lot of space under the boot floor, especially if you take out the spare tyre (which most conversions do anyway). The technology for spoofing the extra battery's SOC to the vehicle system seems to be well known now. And while mucking about with the car, it's likely to be driveable a few days after you cut out the old battery pack; no need to be off the road for months. (OK, I may have to eat my words on that one.)

The general feeling on this board, and mine too till recently, has been that hybrids are not "real" electric cars. Yes, they still pollute; so does a pure electric car with a trailer generator/pusher. As long as the ICE is used as little as possible, surely it's a huge improvement over existing 100% oil cars that emit CO2 even sitting at traffic lights! Maybe this is a way to get more people interested in electric vehicles; like a "real" EV with a backup plan that's "built-in".

I'm still committed to the same EV goals that hopefully we all are; I'm still part of a team of 2 building an all-electric MX-5. All this came from thinking about what to do with my White Suzi, and whether I wanted to put an AC55 in there, while we possibly have a long wait for the motor. Well, the batteries are almost here, and there is a heap of work to be done, so there most likely won't be a whole lot of waiting around. So a "conversion" of a standard Prius to a plug-in Prius capable of reasonable speed and range might suit the time budget better.

Perhaps I've been overlooking something that you wonderful people will kindly point out to me.

Edit: spelling.
Last edited by coulomb on Wed, 08 Jul 2009, 07:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by woody »

*ding* *ding* *ding* ring the heresy bells!

No just kidding - looks like a good plan.
Problem:
- Direct drive motor is large, but possibly not large enough on it's own.
Possible solutions:
- hack ICE / power split device to allow different gearing from the small emotor
- replace ICE with third emotor
- live with it

I do like the gen/trailer option as you can leave it at home for the 95% of trips which don't need it.
Also the prius is a rediculously complex beast compared to an EV.
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Post by Benonymous »

I just sold an '04 Prius after nearly four years of ownership and I really enjoyed the experience. I think the best way to tackle any mods on the car is via the 'expanded pack' route. The electric motor in the car is used primarily to move the car from stationary to around 50Kmh at least that's what the "EV" button allows.

The pack expansion mods that I have seen tackle two problems. One is the 8km or less range of the stock pack and the second is the limit imposed on "EV" mode. With both of these problems addressed, I don't think the electric motor would have any problem getting the car up to around 80 to 90kmh. For the purposes of most users and certainly the scope of many conversions, this fits neatly in the performance range that most people settle for.

Sure, the vehicle is complex but it's extremely well engineered and reliable. I only experienced problems with mine when the auxiliary battery failed and once when I accidentally turned the power off when the car was in gear (but stationary) this freaked the computers out and the car had to be left alone for ten minutes or so to sort itself out.

I sold mine for $12,000 with 80,000km on it. That's a low price but my dear wife had added so many "touches" to the car that the body was rated at only 50% by the car inspection guy. However, many corporations and utilities have fleet Priuses and a friend of a friend bought an '06 at auction for $13,000. Add around 10K for a pack expander and associated spoofing devices to fool the electronics and for 23K you have an unlimited range vehicle that can operate as a pure EV for most city/urban driving.

I really wanted to do this to a Honda Insight but try finding one! Priuses are by contrast very common, they are a true 4 seater with ample luggage space, they ride well and have decent brakes. Why would you bother with a DC conversion on an ancient car?

P.S. Before anyone asks, I didn't keep the car and mod it because it was my company vehicle and I swap them every 3 to 4 years.
Last edited by Benonymous on Wed, 08 Jul 2009, 05:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by woody »

Benonymous wrote: Why would you bother with a DC conversion on an ancient car?
Hey! I resemble that comment! :-)
For me:
I like "ancient" cars - the look, the feel, the simplicity.
Ancient cars have already been going for 45 years and the most complex part on them is the radio. K.I.S.S.
Real drivers don't need no stinking air-bags, power windows, power steering, boosted brakes, disc brakes, A/C, demister, heater, ABS, ASC, ESP, PSP, WII, XBOX, TLA Soup...   
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Post by acmotor »

Hmmm, a nicely converted '63 cortina has more appeal and street cred, but then a prius is a marvel of modern engineering (even if it is a hybrid). Quite happy to sit on the fence. Image

Re the evalbum.com/2748 honda at the start of the thread....
This is interesting thinking.
I wonder about the final weight ???? What is being added batteries, motor, controller charger, brackets, adaptors, mounts will not be under 400kg and may end up 500kg. That leaves 1150kg kerb + 400kg so only 200kg short of gross with an empty fuel tank and no water in the windscreen washer bottle. (if I have the weights right).
So in Oz it could only be registered as 2 seater (83kg ? per pax) and there would still need to be attention to axle loadings if the rear carries much of the weight.
If the added gear goes to 500kg then it would likely not be registerable.

The challenge for this conversion would be weight control, perhaps more so than on pure EV. It may need to be more 'prius' with a smaller battery pack. Image

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Post by Johny »

He did say "DC conversion". I'll ignore the ancient car bit.

On the subject of the hybrid with ICE driving one set of wheels and EMotor driving the other set.
I was led to believe that leaving a manual gearbox in neutral while moving for long periods of time, especially at high speeds was a bad thing. There are surfaces that are not normally exposed to high speed differences that will wear at at enormously greater rate.

What thinks the mechanical gurus?
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Post by acmotor »

Don't most manual gearboxes use the layshaft arrangement so that a box in neutral is quite OK to coast ? i.e. no gears engaged, no synchro or additional bearing wear.

Auto boxes being the problem if toe'd in neutral ? due mostly to no fluid pump operating ?
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Post by Benonymous »

I can fully understand the appeal of a home spun EV conversion on an old car. Hell, I was a MK1 Cortina addict for years, I had three of them all up! What turns me off the idea is that i know how crude (simple) the vehicles are and if I'm carting my kids around I like having ABS and airbags. I don't look upon them as an excuse to have lower driving skills but as an addition to the safety margin. I think an EV range extended Prius makes a lot of sense and is a far easier mod than a full conversion. This fact alone could make it more K.I.S.S than a DC conversion. Image
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Post by acmotor »

All valid points of course, but remember many EVs might be second cars. My 'other' car has air bags,ABS,TCS,ACE,.... xxx so I understand your thinking, but that gadget mobile lacks the appeal of an EV.
Also IMHO a hybrid is still a poor cousin of a pure plug in BEV ! Like a foot in both camps, not brave enough to step out into the real world of EVs ! Image
An extended range prius with the existing emotor carting the atkinson cycle, fuel tank and another 100-200kg of batteries does not make sense to me. (and would be disappointing in performance).
It has been said before though, a prius would make a good donor for an EV conversion ! Image
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Post by Thalass »

I like the idea of a series hybrid, but a parallel hybrid like the prius seems a bit half-arsed. Mostly the prius is a status symbol, as they said on south park: producing less smog, but more smug.

Having said that, it is a very aerodynamicly efficient vehicle. If you went all out and converted one to all-electric you could get a large range from a relatively small battery, I would guestimate.

But as Woody and Tuarn said: Older cars are nicer. Though while I've been in Canada I've seen the new Mustang, and the new Camero and Charger... Those are some mighty fine cars, and if I could afford it I'd convert one in a second.
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Post by moemoke »

Benonymous wrote: I just sold an '04 Prius after nearly four years of ownership and I really enjoyed the experience.

P.S. Before anyone asks, I didn't keep the car and mod it because it was my company vehicle and I swap them every 3 to 4 years.


What did you replace the Prius with, a newer one? or did you buy a full ICE car?
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Post by Benonymous »

UMMM, maybe better not say what the replacement was.....


Ok I'll fess up, I replaced it with an '06 Subaru WRX wagon Image

As it stands I'm unlikely to do a conversion on an existing car. My thinking for a BEV is to construct a very light vehicle for the purpose. I have recently built a large scale vacuum bagging rig for my workshop and am in the process of doing my first project. It's not vehicle but furniture related Image Anyway, there's a local business with a large scale CNC router that I've been working with on this and I'm trying to get his gear up to speed with doing 3D complex shapes. At the present time he only cuts 2D and his software/controller combination is pretty ancient. If we can get him running full 3D then I can get him to make the moulds for me to construct the car. All very speculative at the moment and with my proven track record of unfinished projects, it could be a while.

I'm still enthusiastic about BEV's and I'll continue to research and contribute here.
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Post by acmotor »

That is a reality bite.
What we'd like to do and what we need to use today.
Your heart is in the right place.
Perhaps like me, if there was a REAL BEV on the market to buy, I don't think I'd be doing conversions !   Image
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Post by moemoke »

Benonymous wrote: UMMM, maybe better not say what the replacement was.....


Ok I'll fess up, I replaced it with an '06 Subaru WRX wagon Image
If only we could combine the two, oh hang on when Tesla release their 'S' model we'll have something Fun, Fast, Frugal & Family,
I'll just need the Funds to get one Image
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Post by Squiggles »

It would be good to have some inside knowledge of Tesla Auto.
My guess is their marketing plan goes something like,
1. Build an impressive sports car and prove to the world BEV is viable.
2. Build an up market family saloon so the wealthier people can get the comfort they want and still be seen in an environmentally friendly auto.
3. Build an every day family car for the masses, so the rest of us can have a car like the Jones's (without the luxury frills of course)

Seems to me that the big three are going to have quite a battle on their hands Image
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Post by Thalass »

Benonymous wrote: Ok I'll fess up, I replaced it with an '06 Subaru WRX wagon Image


You've got good taste! That was the last model of WRX ever made... *cough*thenewonesdon'tcount*cough*

If only Subaru made an EV version of their cars, I too wouldn't bother with converting a car.
I'll drive an electric vehicle one day.
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Post by Mr. Mik »

coulomb wrote:
.......
.......

I'm thinking of course of the only truly mass produced hybrid car to date, the Toyota Prius.

They've been manufactured for 10 years now, and the third generation is on sale now in Japan. The 2010 Prius will probably be available in Australia in August. It's probably going to be too expensive for me to fiddle with.


However, the second generation became available in Australia some time in 2003. So you can buy second generation models for well under $20,000.
....
....
So a "conversion" of a standard Prius to a plug-in Prius capable of reasonable speed and range might suit the time budget better.

Perhaps I've been overlooking something that you wonderful people will kindly point out to me.

Edit: spelling.


Yes, you are overlooking the Toyota Prius Mk1 (also known as NHW10)!

Cheaper than the NHW11 or NHW20, it appears quite a few have been imported as used vehicles from Japan to Australia.

They are having problems with their D-cell NiMH batteries and apparently sell very cheap if the battery warning symbol is on.

Otherwise apparently quite sturdy and reliable.

For a few thousand $$ it might be possible to get a good donor car.

Last edited by Mr. Mik on Tue, 21 Jul 2009, 03:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Squiggles »

Mr. Mik wrote:
coulomb wrote:
.......
.......

I'm thinking of course of the only truly mass produced hybrid car to date, the Toyota Prius.

They've been manufactured for 10 years now, and the third generation is on sale now in Japan. The 2010 Prius will probably be available in Australia in August. It's probably going to be too expensive for me to fiddle with.


However, the second generation became available in Australia some time in 2003. So you can buy second generation models for well under $20,000.
....
....
So a "conversion" of a standard Prius to a plug-in Prius capable of reasonable speed and range might suit the time budget better.

Perhaps I've been overlooking something that you wonderful people will kindly point out to me.

Edit: spelling.


Yes, you are overlooking the Toyota Prius Mk1 (also known as NHW10)!

Cheaper than the NHW11 or NHW20, it appears quite a few have been imported as used vehicles from Japan to Australia.

They are having problems with their D-cell NiMH batteries and apparently sell very cheap if the battery warning symbol is on.

Otherwise apparently quite sturdy and reliable.

For a few thousand $$ it might be possible to get a good donor car.


If only they weren't so ugly!
Why would you start with a Pious? Unless you want a modified hybrid...which I guess is what his thread is about. Still they seem to be an ICE with electric assist and modern diesels are getting better fuel economy than hybrids, why would you bother? A diesel running on bio fuel is a better option than current hybrids.
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Post by coulomb »

Mr Mik: the NHW10s only have a 33 kW (peak) motor, compared to 50 kW for the NHW20s. Also, the battery, while lower in voltage, is better in capacity, I think (but I'm not certain).
Squiggles wrote: If only they weren't so ugly!
? They look great to me. Very aerodynamic.
Why would you start with a Pious? Unless you want a modified hybrid...which I guess is what his thread is about.

Exactly; I want to play with the car as a plug-in hybrid. They also make a good pure electric conversion, since you have some 80 kW peak of PM synchronous (efficient) AC electric motor and inverter already there, designed for 202 V (less BMS). The main hassle is that it's not designed for easy modification; you have to figure out how to trick the inverters into doing what you want, and modify the gear train a little.

But to me, that makes it more interesting, rather than less. There is a great online community of people making all sorts of mods, and documenting all sorts of details.

I've just bought a 2007 Prius with this in mind, but it will be for the future, as my wife won't let me made actual modifications to the car till the main warranty runs out (in 10 months). Meanwhile, it's fun to drive, and economical.

Maybe diesels get similar economy, I haven't looked into that. But (so far) you can't hack them to do any pure-EV driving.
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Post by Squiggles »

coulomb wrote: Mr Mik: the NHW10s only have a 33 kW (peak) motor, compared to 50 kW for the NHW20s. Also, the battery, while lower in voltage, is better in capacity, I think (but I'm not certain).
Squiggles wrote: If only they weren't so ugly!
? They look great to me. Very aerodynamic.
OK, very aerodynamic but still ugly, the last decent looking asian car made was an early model MX5 :)
Why would you start with a Pious? Unless you want a modified hybrid...which I guess is what his thread is about.

Exactly; I want to play with the car as a plug-in hybrid. They also make a good pure electric conversion, since you have some 80 kW peak of

Maybe diesels get similar economy, I haven't looked into that. But (so far) you can't hack them to do any pure-EV driving.
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Post by Goombi »

So you want a Prius?
One lucky owner had a problem in Rockhampton the local toyota people couldn't fix so they transported the prius to Gympie where the mechnics had the car for one week trying to fix the problem With compliments of the toyota distributor they gave the man a car to drive around( new toyota Hi-Lux diesel) and paid for his accomodation.
Finally decided to send the prius to Brisbane Hmm The man was given another curtesy car and paid accomodation in a city hotel after two and half weeks the toyota contacted the owner and offerd him a new prius , stating that it had most compnents replaced and still had problems( they are sending the car to Japan) He refused to accept the new prius after all the trauma he had -- told toyots sales to replace it with a top of the range Hi-Lux diesel after short negotiations they agreed and he drove a Happy man into the sunset.. a True Story...
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Post by antiscab »

i call shenanigans.

why on earth would the owner have to stay in a hotel away from home just because his car is under repair?
its the dealers responsibility to move the defect car around, the owner doesnt have to go with it.

this type of post happens often enough to have a name. Its called trolling.

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Post by Goombi »

As it happend I heard he was on holliday with his wife and daugter from Darwin
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Post by Taffy »

There is that book 'Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle'.
Might order it for some reading, though not going to happen in the lotus as the sweet-room all currently.

I dont like assisted hybrids, much prefer the volt series set up (and yes i would put my money were my mouth is if i could).

On the tesla S, u can sign up for info and stating your country. Maybe get a few more and *doubt this* we might see then here.
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Post by acmotor »

Can I have the problem prius ? I know they are complex but there can't be something that can't be fixed ??? Particularly if you are a dealer and can access any parts. Man those toyota QLD guys must be letting the name down.

Would they really ship back to Japan ? That would cost a mint and create a pile of paperwork. No, they'd sent a tech out to Oz if the locals coudn't cope, surely !

But does that mean that not all parts of a prius are available ? Image
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