A research project at a U.S. university could soon lead to the introduction of add-on hybrid kits which would be able to make virtually any gasoline car into a hybrid drive vehicle. The kit essentially adds electric drive capability to a vehicle’s rear wheels, and several prototypes have already been successfully tested. Technically referred to as a plug-in hybrid retrofit kit, students and engineers at Middle Tennessee State University place electric motors in the rear wheels and add a lithium battery as a power source.
The video clip below provides a thorough overview of how an in-wheel motor works. Protean Electric has pioneered the concept of in-wheel electric motors, and the video walks us through the technology and shows it many applications.
While Protean’s system is highly successful, and opened up the industry to the entire concept of in-wheel motors, this new project with bolt-on hybrid kits is quite different in that it looks to make any car, even post-production models, into a hybrid.
Project participants say the MTSU engineering kits could be fitted to a standard combustion car and increase its fuel economy between 50 and 100 percent, all by allowing the electric motors to do their share of the work. The beauty of the kit is its simplicity, since no major components of the original car need to be changed. Brakes, suspension, and all mechanical parts remain as they are.
Right now, the project has advanced to the fund raising stage, and school officials are in talks with various fleet owners in order to create demo versions of the kits that could be put onto a small group of vehicles.
For more about one of the major players in the world of in-wheel motors, see the official website for Protean Electric: