Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lightning Hybrids and the X PRIZE

Back in March we announced that we were accepted as a contestant in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. Since then a lot has happened. Most notably, we have decided to focus all of our efforts and funding on the Hydraulic Hybrids Systems retrofit for fleet vehicles. Which means we pulled out of the X PRIZE competition in mid-August. We still plan to exhibit and still plan to have a 100 MPG sports vehicle on the road in 2012, but we no longer have the distraction and funding drain of the X PRIZE's stringent requirements.

It started at the Denver Auto Show with a bunch of people asking us when we would be creating a retrofit for vehicles. If you have followed this blog you know that we researched the idea of retrofitting vehicles and found that there is a need in the light- and medium-duty fleet truck market for a hydraulic hybrid application like ours that provides games of over 40% in fuel efficiency and decreases carbon emissions by up to 50%. There are over 6 million vehicles in this category in fleets in the U.S. alone!

At the same time we were finding that funding for the LH4 and LH3 was very tight. While our technology is sound, we decided to spend our resources on the retrofit prototypes rather than the cars because the return on investment is under a year for the retrofits compared to a decade or more for the vehicles, even if we were to win the X PRIZE race.

The cars are still a passion, but we know that we have to build a successful retrofit business first before the cars can become a reality.


Doug said...

XPrize- sounds like a wise decision to pull out Tim, Bonnie and crew. Bonnie looking forward to helping you in mid November. Keep up the good work.

Ed said...

What about retrofit kits for other vehicles? How about drive-train replacements for ordinary automobiles?

There are quite a few 'electric vehicle conversion kit/companies' throughout the US; I have converted a 1986 Mazda pickup to Electric (and let me tell you, Lead-Acid batteries suck for electrical storage, and everything else out there is super-expensive).

I want to buy an old 2002-ish Dodge Ram truck, and convert it to a Hydraulic Hybrid. I'd even be interested in converting a vehicle that was smaller, such as geo metro (their engines are sound, but their 3rd gear has issues).

My point in all this, is that I'm just a computer guy, but I'm not afraid to take things apart. I'm willing to try anything, to include putting a rear-mounted cv-jointed transmission in the rear of a geo metro (or building a 3wheeler, say, a Doran or something).

What I need are "buy these pumps, accumulators and valves from us, and here is how you put it together." Converting a Geo Metro/Swift 3cyl to get 100mpg would be impressive as hell (they are really light, and can be found anywhere). Even if you just sold plans, I expect that there are lots of people that would be interested.

How much are your kits? Who builds your adaptor plates? (my Netgain to Mazda Transmission adaptor plate came from Canada).

I've built an Electric car, and quite frankly, they suck. Great for short range, but parked all winter, because the batteries only provide HALF the range in the winter as summer, and I live in Charlotte NC.

I'm fed up with gas prices, I'm sick and tired of giving money to terrorist nations. We don't need to buy fuel from them, and we don't need to convert corn to ethanol. We can use ordinary plant matter. Google for "bio-energy" - you'll find 2 very interesting articles (the most recent of which is how government bureaucracy is getting in the way, as usual).

Hydraulic Hybrids aren't new. The idea has been around since the 1920s, re-explored in the 1970s and 1980s (Google hydraulic hybrid Ernie Parker, or hydraulic hybrid Vincent Carman).

Its time we gave up buying oil from foreign countries, particularly when those countries hate us. We're giving money to our enemies, and this practice needs to stop.