Having branched from the Rocky Mountain Institute this January, Bright Automotive is currently building a concept hybrid electric car that can achieve 100 miles to the gallon. The most important part is that the automobile builder will be keeping the car reasonably prices for the consumer, thanks to a reduction in the battery size. This reduction is also how the car can reach 100 miles to the gallon. This is what has been holding back consumer interest in electric hybrids - the prohibitive cost of batteries.
This is part of a larger scheme to drop weight and focus more on aerodynamics, friction from rolling, building with new materials and other factors. The overall wind resistance has been reduced, which combined with the lost weight lead to a car capable of much longer distances and a more energy efficient design. The engine will not have to accelerate as hard, which in turns allows the car to rely less on the batteries. Overall, the design is a modern evolution of concepts that was born a century ago.
Now improving the aerodynamics is not anything new, it has been done by many companies who are also looking to use new materials. However, on the side of Bright Automotive is the work experience stemming from working on the GE EV1 battery and the lithium ion battery manufacturer Ener1. Many of the executives possess training and work experience from the automotive industry.
What causes cars to spend excess fuel is that the vehicle is too heavy and the design increases wind resistance to an extraordinary degree. For example, the USPS fleet of mail trucks is over an eighth of a million strong and each gets only 10 miles to the gallon, with 18 miles a day per. Assuming a 300 day work year, the USPS consumes almost 90 million gallons of gas, just for the little white mail trucks. The technology and design offered by the Bright Automotive group could save 80 million gallons. To put it in financial terms, a single dime increase in the gas price is equivalent to the USPS needing an additional $80 million dollars of tax payer money.
Right now, the technical details are sparse, but a working prototype was shown to a VIP crowd in December. The new vehicle will be shown off at a car show in May, and a commercial release can happen in two to three years. The vehicle will run for 30 miles on the battery before the gas engine kicks in, and both engines will have a combined 400 mile range. The vehicle is based around a parallel architecture, where both the gas and electric engines are capable of propulsion. This is as opposed to series vehicles which are electric propelled and the gas motor serves to keep the battery charged. The series style is thought to be a cheaper hybrid, but the complexity of the system design and the fact that the electric motor has to be much more powerful causes the series design to be more expensive.
Originally posted 2009-03-04 15:00:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter