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Frequently Asked Questions:

Hybrids & Generators

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Can I add a small generator so I can take long trips?

We do not recommend hybrid conversions for several reasons. We have been personally involved in building a couple of them, and have looked at many others and talked to their owners/builders. Most of them have preferred the vehicle as pure electric, and many removed the hybrid systems.

The hybrid cancels out many of the benefits of a pure electric car. It is noisy and vibrates. It requires petroleum fuel and maintenance. It adds bulk and expense. It adds complexity (and potential failure points) to the overall system. It has efficiency losses. It adds pollution again, in some cases as much as 30 gas cars. For all of this, the added range is only a few miles.

Most generators are rated for AC output. Most conversions are DC systems. A typical compact conversion has a pack voltage between 96VDC-144VDC. It will draw 400-500 amps under acceleration, and 150-250 amps for cruising. It takes a substantial generator to put out enough DC to be useful for this system.

Major manufacturers are in a better position to build usable hybrids than the hobbyist converter. They have the ability to design from the ground up, use generators built to their specs, and use custom computer controls to optimize performance. Also, most major manufacturer cars use the more expensive AC systems, which are more readily adaptable to generators.

You can't really reduce the battery pack much, either, because voltage = speed. You need at least 96V for basic level performance.

We feel the benefits of a hybrid system in a conversion do not sufficiently balance the drawbacks to make it worthwhile. We recommend instead re-examining the real performance needs for the vehicle, and whether there might be some other way to achieve them, such as a lighter donor chassis, or recharging at the destination.

Can I leave the gas engine in, and add an electric drive, so I can use electricity for local trips and the gas engine when the batteries run out?

First, you must find room for two drive systems, including all those batteries. You can't use fewer batteries without reducing your top speed. Carrying both systems will make the car very, very heavy, which will begin to stress things like the suspension and wheel bearings, and maybe the chassis itself. There are serious safety issues to be addressed here. Finally, you must devise a system for switching from one system to the other. Although all of this can be done, it is only for the most dedicated hobbyists, and it will be difficult.

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