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Gas Powered EV · 16 March 06
I get an email from time to time which goes like…
“Why don’t you add a lawnmower/weedwhacker/gas engine to your EV? Wouldn’t that help the range?“
Well, yeah, it might…but it wouldn’t be an EV! And, hey, who said I needed more range? ‘:^)
Still, it’s a common enough question that we ought to talk about it a bit.
There’s a few ways to make a gas powered “EV” and not all of them are necessarily called hybrids. For example there’s a few pusher trailers where the owner only hooks up a gas engine (actually the front end of a gas car!) when more range is desired. The rest of the time it’s a pure EV.
Of course some folks permanently bolt a gas engine into an EV, making the batteries haul it and the gas around everywhere they go “just in case” they should have a Springsteen moment, and need to hop in the car and never look back.
They a little shy of details, no schematics or block diagrams to show how they juggle between gas and electric but taking a look at the images you can start to form an idea. That sure is a boot-load of switches! Wow! I used to make control panels for radio stations back in the 70’s that looked like this. Still, I’d love to see the schematics.
When I wrote Poor Man’s Hybrid last fall I said something about putting a beefier alternator into your gas car (along with batteries), thereby making it a quasi-hybrid. Oddly enough the ELECTROCHARGER announced around that time seems to do just that, although they seem to be having problems going into production (be sure to read comments at bottom of page).
When folks start thinking about an EV (usually to get better gas mileage) the progression of thought is that they can just pop in an old lawntractor motor or genset they’ve got kicking around the garage and top off the batteries whenever they need it. That’s not to say you can’t get a good engine, but it’s probably going to cost you and there’s a fair bit of integration involved.
The challenge is to not end up with an “electric car” that gets worse gas mileage and pollutes more than the original donor vehicle.
Alain St-Yves took a slightly different approach (be sure to read the evlist excerpts at the bottom of the page). Instead of a pusher and instead of permanently mounting a gas engine in the vehicle, he created a range extending unit that he can pop into the back of his truck. He also has a rig on his car.
The topic of EV range extension is currently being talked about on the EVList. Scroll down a bit to the message from Neon John regarding generators. John also posted a good writeup/review of the Generac Quiet Pack 55G Generator.
I’m not sure what to call these. They aren’t plug-in hybrids, maybe hybrid plug-ins? Naw, too close. EV boosters? Trunk Gen? Any other ideas?
But to answer the original email, the reason I don’t put a gas powered engine into an EV is that I don’t need it. Actually for the number of times that I go on long trips it would be far cheaper (and less wiring) to rent a car!
BTW, if you haven’t looked around the rest of this website at some of the other conversions you are missing out on some great discussions. James and Woody both got their EVs going and Dr. Larry’s EV post continues to get interesting comments.
Speaking of the evlist, and completely off-topic, someone posted a link to a how-to for making your own battery cable crimper. You want to crimp your battery cables, folks, not solder. And you want it to be a tough solid crimp as well.