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About the Project

Goal
The objective of this project is to convert an existing vehicle to a hybrid electric. This idea came out of my plans to become a mechanical engineer, as well as my concern for the environment and the efficiency of the vehicles we drive. I hope to complete and drive this vehicle to prove that a series hybrid can be effectively used on a daily basis.

An important aspect of the project is fundraising, which will help to make the project more affordable. With support from the community, I hope to be able to complete the project by summer 2006. If you are interested in supporting the project, please take a look at the sponsorship page.

Many of the hybrid vehicles on the market today are passenger vehicles, or, at the most, SUVs like the Ford Escape hybrid. I aim to explore the uses of hybrid technology with a more utilitarian vehicle, like a pickup truck. I feel that the technology will be perfectly suited to the vehicle, because pickup trucks are often used in short-range situations where fuel efficiency can be a huge benefit. See the What's a Hybrid? page for more information.

Process
The project began in February, 2005 with the general idea of a series hybrid. Since then, I have completed research on the most cost-effective and useful drive system, which included a lot of detailed information on the currently available components and their pricing, as well as a thorough survey of the used parts market. What started as a very basic idea has evolved into a much more complex and expensive one.

Aside from research, I have put a lot of time into fundraising. One of the pivotal points of the fundraising has been the availability of logo placement on the vehicle for corporate sponsors.

I have also acquired a vehicle to perform the conversion on. This is a 1994 Ford Ranger, and I have already removed the existing internal combustion engine. All cosmetic repair work on the vehicle has been completed, and a number of parts are on order. I finally have most the parts required to finish the vehicle, and the only things remaining to order are miscellaneous brackets and assorted hardware.

I still have quite a bit of work to do, so stay tuned to the news on the index page for more information. Please be patient, as I am attending school away from home and have little time to spend on the truck.

Learning
As I briefly stated above, I have learned a lot about the available off-the-shelf electric vehicle propulsion systems currently available. I have also spent plenty of time learning about general electronics; about AC isolation, power transistors, resistance, battery discharge rates (Peukert's equation) and battery types. I have also learned a considerable amount about the safety measures key to a sound electric vehicle, and how to implement effective, low-cost safety devices.

In addition to learning about the technical side of things, I have learned (and continue to learn) about fundraising, organization, and communication. Prior to starting this project, I definitely knew very little about how to approach people about sponsorship, and I wouldn't have been very inclined to do so without some large expenses hanging over my head. This project has definitely helped to push me into doing some fundraising, and I think that it's been a positive experience for me.

This project has already shown me that I have a lot to learn about engineering, both mechanical and electrical. The generator control and battery management systems have definitely gotten me interested in the electrical side of things. I have had some difficulty deciding between the two disciplines, and this project has given me a strong application for both. While I still intend to major in mechanical engineering, I will definitely plan on taking a number of classes in electrical engineering, and I might even major in both.

Community

This project will benefit the community by keeping the environment clean (one vehicle at a time) and by providing the community with additional knowledge of hybrid-electric technology. I hope that I can get people excited about efficient transportation, and maybe even inspire a few more hybrid vehicle purchases. If you have any more questions or ideas for me, please contact me by email or phone.

 

 

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