A kit which transforms your average vehicle into a hybrid model has been developed by students at the University of Middle Tennessee.
Many hybrid cars are currently beyond the scope of the average consumer. They may be a good financial investment in the long-term, but the shift to renewable energy and electric vehicles can be expensive when starting out.
But would consumers find the idea of converting their existing vehicles into an electric kind on a shoestring budget more palatable?
A team of students hailing from the University of Middle Tennessee have spent the last five years developing a full plug-in hybrid kit, currently installed in a stock 1994 Honda Accord, which improves the efficiency of vehicles through the use of electricity.
According to the team, the $3000 plug-in offers between 50 and 100 percent better gas mileage. It works through two electric motors that push power directly to the rear wheels of a car, leaving the front wheels -- powered by the engine - to work with less pressure and effort.
The electric motors are powered by a lithium ion phosphate battery which is secured in the trunk. The kit uses two three-phase DC brushless motors which sit close to the rear brakes, and each motor produces approximately 200 pound-feet of torque -- the force required to rotate an object around an axis.
The plug-in can be installed on "almost" any vehicle. Currently, the battery required to power the Honda is cumbersome, but the researchers say that when it is sent to production, the size will be reduced to "the size of a carry-on bag".
The setup has four patents pending, which will all be owned by the university. This will be used to continue research and development of the hybrid kit.
However, the product would only be suitable for a select market -- or as the team put it, "around town" drivers. Why? As soon as you hit over 40mph, the system cuts off.
Head researcher Professor Charles Perry is currently trying to secure additional funding to produce a commercial version of the kit. Considering the product a "demonstration", Perry wants to "pass through this transition, from feasibility to true, viable product."