- A plug-in hybrid retrofit kit said to work on virtually any car is the brainchild of Dr. Charles Perry, an engineering technology professor from Middle Tennessee State University.
- Perry's 1994 Honda Accord test car has seen mileage increases of 50-100 percent, researchers at the school said.
- The kit, which is not yet in production, is estimated to cost around $3,000.
MURFREESBORO, Tennessee — A plug-in hybrid retrofit kit said to work on virtually any car is the brainchild of Dr. Charles Perry, an engineering technology professor from Middle Tennessee State University.
Perry is now talking with several investors, attempting to get funding to outfit a fleet of test vehicles with the plug-in hybrid technology.
For a test platform, Perry and his team used a 1994 Honda Accord station wagon fitted with electric motors in each rear wheelwell and a lithium-ion battery in the cargo area. The motors supplement the vehicle's internal-combustion engine, resulting in a mileage increase of 50-100 percent when driving below 40 mph.
Perry's objective was to create a hybrid kit that could be added to any car without changing brakes, suspension, or other mechanical systems. Similar add-on hybrid kits are expensive and require major modifications to the vehicle.
When it goes into full production, Perry estimates his kit will cost about $3,000.
Perry said his team has reached "what industry insiders call 'the valley of death' as they try to transfer the project's technology from the laboratory to a commercial product," according to a posting on the school's Web site.
"We have gained proof of concept in terms of feasibility," he said. "We need quite a bit of money to have proof of product. What we've achieved is a demonstrated technology, not a proven technology. Investors want to see proven, field-tested performance and reliability. We have to pass through this transition, from feasibility to true, viable product."
Edmunds says: It's fascinating to see the type of game-changers that academicians are working on, even if we're not likely to see them in our driveways in the immediate future.