Hybrid Attack – Hybrids/Alternative – hybrids.autoblog.com _ __ Kids can do it right when Detroit sits it out.

Just as I was complaining about there not being any hybrids that I’d buy, here I’ve stumbled upon one by accident. It’s called “The Attack” and it’s a hybrid supercar with over 300 hp developed from a AC electric motor powering the front wheels and a 1.9L VW TDi biodiesel powering the rears. The batteries powering the electric motor act as capacitors able to discharge a lot of energy in short bursts, enough for 0-60 runs in the sub 4-second range. Under normal driving conditions the car is powered by the biodiesel engine and achieves 50mpg.

And the best part is, this super-hybrid didn’t come from the Big 3 or some obscure Euro supercar maker, The Attack is the work of the West Philadelphia High School Electric Vehicle Team – a group of 6 high school, YES, high school kids.

found by 12-2

  1. Kathy P. says:

    And the Feds want to get rid of trade schools and make all the kids go to college…. Sigh…..

  2. Jim Dermitt says:

    I saw a couple of seatbelt recalls. The big car companies have managed to screw up seatbelts. Just amazing!

  3. Hank says:

    My west coast university tech department used to develop a new super-high-milage car every couple of years, with “off the shelf” parts, when possible. (they might still). One year they made the goal to drive the car to Detroit on a single tank of gas.

    When they got there, the students held a reception and NOT ONE SINGLE American car manufacturer showed up. But the Japanese did! The Japanese reps then pledged to give our school all kinds of engines, parts, etc and maybe even some money if remember correctly.

  4. AB CD says:

    Not surprising. The government invests so much money in their green car initiatives that the car companies would be stupid to solve the problem and see that money go away.

  5. ~ says:

    It’s amazing what can happen when no one has alterior motives or is being lobbied to death.

  6. russellkanning says:

    So when are these kids going to start selling cars?
    John, you could buy one and wow ’em at the geek tradeshows.

  7. Smith says:

    First off, I don’t believe the article.

    Second, there is a reason the Japanese beat the US auto industry to hybrids. California environmentalists mandated 10% of the vehicles sold at the end of this decade had to be zero emission vehicles. Hybrids are not ZEVs, so while Japan was developing hybrids, Detroit was working on electric cars.

    Third. Has someone repealed the laws of thermodynamics? All of the hype suggests that a hybrid will get 50 mpg. That is only possible if you install a hybrid motor in a vehicle already capable of getting 60 – 70 mpg on the highway.

    Think about it. Let’s say your vehicle gets 40 mpg while cruising on the freeway at 70 mph. Adding a hybrid motor to this vehicle cannot improve on that mileage because it only recovers energy from braking. So you’re cruising down the road when you have to hit your brakes to avoid someone slowing for an exit ramp. Great, your hybrid motor recovers that brake energy and helps to accelerate you back up to 70. But the laws of thermodynamics says you can never recover all of that energy, so your mileage takes a hit.

    Of course the more you hit your brakes during your normal drive, the more advantageous a hybrid will be. But you can never do better than the non-hybrid model will get while cruising at its optimal speed.

    So pardon my scepticism when I see the EPA rating for the Prius is 51 highway and 60 CITY!

  8. Allen the disgruntled US math teacher says:

    Smith’s comment helps me understand why, as s/he says, “the Japanese beat the US auto industry to hybrids.” It’s because Americans (presuming that Smith, a name as American as apple pie) are bad at math.

    Let’s say that my Matrix gets 350 miles per ~12 gallon tank of gas (which is about true). By Smith’s reasoning, if it were a hybrid, it would only be able to go 250 miles or so before I had to fill up. What?? No, if I had a hybrid, I would STILL get 350 miles from my 12 gallons of gas, but I would also get another 100 or so from the hybrid side of things. If these numbers (guesstimates, but reasonable) are accurate, then I would appear to go from 29 MPG to 37.5 MPG, because I travel more miles on fewer gallons of gas. Having a hybrid does not in fact hurt a cars mileage as it is computed.

  9. Ed Campbell says:

    Smith needs to read up on regenerative braking. It’s only been used in some parts of the world for over a half-century. After time, a little bit of 20th Century technology made it into 21st Century vehicles — in the US.

  10. Smith says:

    Actually, Allen, my degree is in Applied Mathematics. I suggest you carefully review what I actually wrote. No where did I ever state that a hybrid will get less gas mileage than a non-hybrid. Let me try to rephrase my comment so that even a high-school math teacher can understand.

    If you are driving down the freeway at 70 mph and you never touch your brakes, the mileage you are achieving is the very best your car is capable, given that speed and those road conditions. Adding a hybrid motor will not help under those conditions, because there is no braking energy to recover. If however, you are driving in the city, then you will enjoy considerable benefit from having a hybrid.

    Not that the money you save in gas will off-set the higher cost of the vehicle!

    Ok, Math Teacher, here is a simple math problem that any high school student should be able to solve.

    Model X auto is rated at 32 mgp. Model X-hybrid is rated at 40 mpg, but costs $5,000 more than Model X. If gas is $2.50 per gallon, how many miles must Model X-hybrid travel before it recovers the additional $5,000 investment? Answer: 320,000 miles

    I guess that’s another reason Detroit never bothered with hybrids, they assumed their customers were smarter than they really are. Of course the Japanese have always known we were gullible fools.

    The irony is that hybrids make far more economic sense in gas hogs than those prissy green vehicles. I have a god-awful Towncar that gets 24 mpg on the freeway while cruising at 80, but it gets only 18 mph combined city/highway. If adding a hybrid motor to that car could increase its city mileage to equal its highway, then that $5,000 cost would be recovered in 144,000 miles.

  11. Smith says:

    Ed, do you mean to propose that regenerative braking returns more energy than what you started with? I suggest you need to review your college physics.

  12. Allen the disgruntled US math teacher says:

    Okay, I’ve been trolled. Here’s my last post:

    Smith: “All of the hype suggests that a hybrid will get 50 mpg. That is only possible if you install a hybrid motor in a vehicle already capable of getting 60 – 70 mpg on the highway.”

    If it had already been capable of getting 60 – 70 mpg on the highway, it should not be getting 50 mpg (and since there’s no modifier here, my first read was that this was on the highway too, where by my estimate a car capable of getting 60-70 mpg should get 60-70 mpg).

    While I’m taking the time to post, I guess it would be redundant to re-post the link from a previous, similar entry: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/02/business/02plug.html? (thanks, fish). Call me redundant. Call me redundant.

    Sorry for rufflling your feathers, there, Smith, I must have mis-read your initial post. Good luck with the applied math thing. I do agree mostly with your second post, although to be complete one should also figure in tax benefits (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax_hybrid.shtml — hey! up to $2000! Now we just need to recover $3000 worth of gas or other benefit!) and the non-tangible benefit of feeling a) cooler than everyone else and b) like you’re doing something to, like, benefit the earth or something.

  13. Ed Campbell says:

    Smith, you may know your math; but, relying on a reductio ad absurdum to prove your point is religious logic. Only if you spend your whole day solely at speed on the Freeway, you may have a point.

    Regenerative braking systems — the sort of systems that have been in production since the mid-20th century — on average return about 80% of energy expended in braking to be stored electrical energy. That’s exactly why hybrids driven around town get better mileage than they do over the road. Since that’s what most folks do with their average 30-40 miles/day of driving, the benefits accrue.

    That towncar of yours would get more mileage in town than on the highway — as do all hybrids.

  14. David Ronco says:

    First, congratulations to those students and to their teachers too for letting them use their minds and imagination to learn and create.

    I’m a simple car guy with an environmental bent. Here is my economics. I was driving a twin turbo Dodge Stealth and changed to a Toyota Pruis. Believe me, I’m saving money on gas, reducing our dependence on oil, and reducing my tailpipe emissions at the same time. It’s all about how you look at it. Many people buy hybrids for other reasons than money. So, the ROI agrument doesn’t really hold.

    I found that how I drive my hybrid depends on how much gas mileage I get, just like and other car or truck. By the way, the battery pack stores energy cumulatively not by “brake by brake”

    Responding to the California electric car comment. The Japanese built the most successful battery electric cars too. The RAV4 EV. Detroit was distracted with it’s withering market share not electric cars.

  15. cdetdi says:

    While the math is sound and your examples aren’t wrong, Smith’s arguments completely miss the point of having a hybrid. Lets begin this with some simpler “thermodynamics”:

    Larger motors are more inefficient than smaller motors. They have much greater mass and produce more friction. They also displace more overall, and more displacement means less efficient combustion’s.

    Traveling at 70mph in your Toyota Camry requires very very little horsepower, probably in the range of 30 or so. Having a 30 horsepower won’t get you to 70 within a week, however. What a hybrid system does is allow a smaller motor, which is inherently more efficient but less powerful, to power the car enough to be realistic. The electric engine and internal combustion engine supplement each other for acceleration. Neither could do the entire job on their own. Most hybrid systems don’t have the electric motor running much, if at all, on the highway, but that isn’t the point. The point, again, is that the smaller, much more efficient motor can keep the car at speed and accelerate at a slow pace, but when you need more power you use supplement with the electric motor. So you get the acceleration you get from a larger engine without any of the inherent inefficiencies from a larger motor…

    Get it?

  16. cdetdi says:

    Smith said:
    “Of course the more you hit your brakes during your normal drive, the more advantageous a hybrid will be. But you can never do better than the non-hybrid model will get while cruising at its optimal speed.”

    Yes, but not in way you intend that to mean. The hybrid model would get the same fuel economy a non-hybrid would with the EXACT same drivetrain: engine, transmission (and ratios), differentials etc…but, as mentioned, the hybrid sized engine alone couldn’t power the car sufficiently. The non-hybrid model has a different, usually larger but always more powerful, engine that is more inefficient.
    (the Escape hybrid has the same size 4-cyl engine but it uses a special stroke system, called the atkinson-cycle, which cuts down significantly on power but also improves efficiency by a great deal. See this cut & paste from howstuffworks.com:
    “The Escape Hybrid’s 2.3-liter, aluminum, four-cylinder, dual overhead cam engine generates 133 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. The three-phase, permanent-magnet, synchronous electric motor adds 94 horsepower in the 3,000-5,000 rpm range. By itself, the gasoline engine can crank out 129 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. (For comparison, the four-cylinder engine in the non-hybrid Escape generates 153 hp at 5,800 rpm and 152 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm.) ”
    So, you’re looking at roughly a 15% loss of power for the increased efficiency of 5mpg (26 for FWD 4cyl Auto and 31 for Hybrid FWD).

  17. John Matz says:

    Just thought I’d make a comment on auto mileage. The EPA highway test assumes constant 48 mph if I recall … not 70 mph on the freeway, with twice as much wind drag.. The EPA city test assumes a certain average speed and a certain number of stops also … which has changed greatly (more congestion) in the twenty or thirty years since its inception. The EPA ratings are really a benchmark test that all car models undergo and allowes one to compare a Ford F150 to a Toyota Prius.
    John the engineer and car hobbyist

  18. eric says:

    You guys are missing out on one big thing that was listed in the original article.. the diesel engine is a biodiesel. Biodiesel means less money for fuel than had you bought your fuel at the gas pump.. Hell some kitchen grease you can get for free or even get PAID to take it away! Why not get paid to use your car? I doubt you get paid to drive your lincoln…

  19. Doug says:

    Well, I guess that I may as well be one of what should be many, to say “Congratulations, and thank you.” to the teacher and his students on a project that was this successful, not only in what they learned from the experience, but from the controversy they engendered in the public arena. I’t would be nice if I could find a reason to do the same for the oil/automotive industry, but sadly, the opportunity has never presented itself – greed seems to get in the way… continually.

    I’ve often wished I could find the time and money to pursue a project that would reduce humanity’s “footprint” on the planet, but unfortunately, the hobnail-booted “powers that be” tend to keep the well-intentioned individuals preoccupied generating an income that can be harvested for the advantage of those who need and deserve it the least .

    So I spend my time observing and absorbing the experience of my existance, while paying attention to step lightly on the planet as I pass through. An effort worthy of more of us, wouldn’t you agree?

    Thanks once again to this class of teachers/students who see the value of treading lightly.

  20. aztec says:

    I like the comment from Doug the best. Our society and political system has become a game, us against them, yes against no, hybrids against no hybrids, Republicans against Democrats.
    On any major issue “We” spend so much time and energy arguing a point. This has become a “Game” that goes on indefinately with overtimes. Roughly 50% of the “Fans” are for one side and 50% for the other side. When it ends in a tie we start all over again and try to sway enough people for our team. All we end up accomplishing is making %50 of the people agree and %50 dissagree. Guess what, that is where we started out before the “Game” even started. Why not let these people run with the idea? Encourage them.
    Now back to my point about liking Doug’s comment the best. There is no game here. There is no room for argument with this comment.

    While the “Powers” that be play their game with our money. We are tangled up in the web of politics. Watching the “Game” being played with the overpaid politicians in a game that never ends and satisfies %50 of the people and dissatisfies the other %50. Exactly how “They” want it. That is what keeps the “Game” alive.

    While everyone is wasting time arguing about hybrids these people are doing something. We need more people like these High Schoolers. Great job.

  21. XZaapryca says:

    Every gallon of gas you don’t use, someone in India or China (Chindia) eagerly gobbles up. It’s been widely reported that many people are only getting as many mpg’s as one would get in a regular Civic. Tax savings?


    Better buy one quick. The credits and deductions are on a graduated schedule for reduction and elimination.

    Then there is the replacement of the batteries. Not cheap and a landfill disaster. Up to $3000 to replace as well.

    When gas is $5-$6 a gallon, we’ll probably slide into a steep recession, everyone will lose their job, and no one will be commuting anyway. lol


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