We are a team of young engineers from the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal, collaborating through the non-profit Onda Technology Institute. We are passionate about technology and the environment.
We love all kinds of technology and we know people tend to 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 and heavier. But we can change that. Or so we believe. How? By making an environment friendly SUV. A range-extended electric SUV is what we believe to be the best choice for now. Current battery technology doesn't yet allow to store enough power for comfortable travelling. Batteries need to be recharged many times and they take long to recharge. And their weight is always present even when they are depleted. So we thought of meeting half-way. Instead of relying completely on batteries, we keep the fuel engine to use as a generator for battery recharging during long trips. And, as the fuel is spent, the less energy is also spent since there is less mass to accelerate and move.
And how can an SUV be environment friendly?
- 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:
- No need for a clutch or transmission, making the vehicle lighter, since electric motors are lighter;
- reduced complexity of the engine;
- Electric motors present maximum torque at 0 RPM, making them some wild beasts for acceleration, reducing fuel consumption;
- Electric motors can be used as generators, recovering energy during braking - regenerative braking;
- The fuel engine will become a generator and only be fired when necessary to recharge batteries when depleted;
- Electric transmissions are much more efficient than mechanical transmissions, simpler, require less parts and are less prone to wear and tear;
- The SUV will have an automated control system to learn from the driver's habits and optimize the fuel engine/generator start/stop cycles.
- 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).
- 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
- Projected HUD display can make the vehicle safer, reducing the need for the driver to take his eyes off the road.
- Replacement of some non-critical parts with equivalent parts built of lighter materials (fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc).
- 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.
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. Think of the children!
Sounds expensive? Well 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.
What We Need & What You Get
Stage 1: $50000 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 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 will allow us to give it the windshield projected HUD, making it even more secure.
Stage 4: an additional $20000 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.
Stage 5: an additional $50000 will help us develop a simple automated reactor for production of biodiesel.
We can't yet provide you with a conversion kit as a perk since we will still be doing all the testing with this project. This project will allow us to understand what is necessary and how to do it. But we have some other perks for you:
- Our t-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers:
- "My SUV is greener than your bike";
- "I may be quiet, but I'm still big";
- "If you think my SUV is quiet, hear it honk";
- "Hulk is not the only green sexy beast around";
- Engraving your name into the SUV's hood;
- "Unleaded caffeine" mugs;
- "Green beast" license plates;
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 and particle emissions.
Other Ways You Can Help
Some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help:
- Ask folks to get the word out and make some noise about your this campaign.
- Share this campaign on your Facebook, blog, twitter, ...