Notice: this project is currently suspended due to shortage of resources.

The e-SUV

Why an electric SUV? There are many people who like SUVs. They are strong, sturdy and give a very consistent sense of safety and protection on the road. But there's one thing they aren't very good at: protecting the environment.

SUVs spend a lot of fuel because they're bigger, heavier and generally more complex. But we can change that. Or so we believe. How? By making an environment friendly SUV (and friendly to your wallet too). A range-extended electric SUV is what we believe to be the best choice for now. This is the kind of vehicle that is powered by batteries but, when they reach the critical low charge, the fuel engine is activated to work exclusively as a generator. Why do we believe it will work? Because this setup has been in use for a long time - for example in the diesel-electric trains.

Range extension

Current battery tecnologies aren't, yet, viable. They take too long to recharge, they are big, heavy and degrade a lot with use and time, making them less efficient over time. On top of that, even when their charge is at the lowest, their weight is still the same - but an empty gas tank doesn't weight the same as a full one. Therefore, batteries are still a longshot away from allowing a practical and comfortable use. So, what would be the practical solution for this situation? It's a mix of both: the range extension. instead of relying completely on batteries, we keep the fuel engine only as a generator that is activated only when the batteries get depleted. When using it in the city, batteries that allow for a 50km range are sufficient. The driver takes the car in the morning, goes to work, comes back at night and, while he's sleeping, the batteries recharge. But, on longer trips, 50km aren't nearly enough. That's when the generator is activated. In this case, since there is no direct connection between the fuel engine and the wheels, there is no mechanical transmission and no clutch. It's weight that can be saved to be taken by the batteries. Without a mechanical transmission, transmission losses disappear (usually somewhere between 25% to 40%). And the fuel engine can be kept at its most efficient regime.

Turning an SUV environment friendly

  1. We will be converting an SUV into an hybrid vehicle. It will be the range-extended type of hybrid vehicles, like the diesel-electric locomotives. This is stage one of the project and will, by itself, save a lot of fuel:
    1. No need for a clutch or transmission, making the vehicle lighter.
    2. Reduced complexity of the engine.
    3. Electric motors always present maximum torque even at 0 RPM, making them some wild beasts for acceleration, reducing fuel consumption.
    4. Electric motors can be used as generators, recovering energy during braking - regenerative braking.
    5. The fuel engine will become a generator and only be fired when necessary to recharge batteries when depleted and is kept at its most efficient regime.
    6. Electric transmissions are much more efficient than mechanical transmissions, simpler, require less parts and are less prone to wear and tear.
  2. The SUV will have an automated control system to learn from the driver's habits and optimize the fuel engine/generator start/stop cycles.
  3. The SUV will be geography-aware in order to optimize engine management and comfort parameters (the car computer will give hints to the ECU about slope, length of road stretch, etc).
  4. The in-dash information system will present the driver with hints to help him optimize his driving habbits such as ideal times for breaking and acceleration, best routes, etc.
  5. Projected HUD display can make the vehicle safer, reducing the need for the driver to take his eyes off the road.
  6. Replacement of some non-critical parts with equivalent parts built of lighter materials (fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc).
  7. Hood and roof installed solar cells will allow the vehicle to recharge while parked or help extend the range and reduce the effort made by the fuel motor/generator. Eventually, transparent solar cells can be applied to the glass.
  8. Photochromic and electro-chromic glass will reduce the amount of solar light entering the vehicle that heats the interior, reducing the need to use assisted cooling.
  9. Environmental support will actively monitor and control the temperature, keeping it at acceptable levels in warm and sunny days, even when the vehicle is empty and stopped to reduce the need to resort to assisted cooling when the passengers enter the vehicle - we all know the feeling of burning the back on the seats and the hands on the driving wheel. All this is very simple, just keeping the air circulating while the vehicle is stopped when the temperature approaches the comfort threshold and activating the electro-chromic tinting to avoid the interior greenhouse effect. Air circulation could be assisted only by the solar cells. On the opposite situation, heating could be assisted by solar cells and making the windows more transparent than in the summer, to keep the inner temperature at an acceptable value.

Remember that we are trying to give you the tools to reduce the harm made to the environment without having to compromise on comfort. Actually, you may even get more comfort out of it: a safer, more economic and more silent driving experience.

Sounds expensive? Well it might be, but remember, this is the initial project, the prototype. We will be making a lot of mistakes, breaking parts, testing stuff. It is expected to be expensive. If we succeed and we start providing full conversion kits and plans, it will be much simpler and economic since we've done all the hard work already.

Funding stages

Stage 1: 50000.00€ will allow us to take the vehicle apart, acquire the electric motors and control parts, transform it into a range extended electric vehicle, give it a fair amount of optimization intelligence and make it street legal.

Stage 2: an additional 5000.00€ will allow us to give it the geography awareness, the intelligent dashboard and the hability to have the vehicle learn about driving habbits.

Stage 3: an additional 2500.00€ will allow us to give it the windshield projected HUD, making it even more secure.

Stage 4: an additional 20000.00€ will allow us to make it even lighter by replacing non-critical parts with equivalent parts made of lighter materials and making it more energy efficient allowing it to harness energy from the Sun with photovoltaic cells.

The Impact and Why?

Why is this important? We know there are electric SUVs already heading to production lines, but there are a great deal of already manufactured fuel-SUVs out there. Why let them go to waste? Why not convert them and make them last a few more years instead? Battery technology is not yet ready to provide a comfortable driving experience without frequent maintenance (the long periods of recharging downtime). This way, while batteries have time to mature, we reduce fossil fuel consumption, greenhouse effect and particle emissions.