Father of Hybrid Engine is an American

By dancurranjr On October 29th, 2008

When you think of a hybrid engine, likely the first thing that comes to mind is the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight, two of the most memorable model names featuring this type of technology. But, what you might not know is that hybrid technology was invented by an American, a Soviet immigrant who launched his inventions at the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Now, the university is planning to honor Severinsky by inducting him into the Clark School Innovation Hall of Fame on October 30th. For Severinsky the honor underscores what many people fleeing aggression have discovered: the United States is truly a land of opportunity.

From Bread Lines to Gas Lines

Arriving in the US in 1978 as a refugee, Severinsky found his adopted country in the middle of a national oil crisis of that era, a problem he believed he could help resolve. “I’d just come from bread lines and now I was in gas lines,” says Severinsky. He decided to tackle the problem of gasoline consumption.

With a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Moscow’s Institute for Precision Measurements in Radioelectronics and Physics, Severinsky started analyzing the Periodic Table, searching for possible alternatives to internal combustion. In his study he concluded that a fully-electric vehicle would never be practical, but an electric/internal combustion hybrid could work.

From there, he took a job in power electronic engineering, where he was able to engross himself in the field of high-voltage semiconductors that was critical to his ideas for a hybrid powerplant.

Hyperdrive and Hybrid Technology

Beginning in 1992, Severinsky began filing numerous patents for the Hyperdrive power train system. He received additional help from Mtech in arranging a meeting with staff from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Lockheed Martin.

He made a physical prototype of his technology and, on October 14, 1999, demonstrated the PAICE system in Detroit. Severinsky proved that the system could effectively reduce the gas consumption of a Cadillac Coup de Ville by half in city driving while retaining its driving performance.

Engineers at U.S. and Japanese automakers were interested in Severinsky’s invention, but top management resisted. A staff engineer at Toyota later developed the same idea as Severinsky for hybrids. When the Toyota Prius was introduced, Severinsky fought to protect his patent rights and after a drawn out legal battle with Toyota, he won the civil case in 2005.

Alex Severinsky will be inducted into the Innovation Hall of Fame at a Clark School ceremony on October 30, 2008. The ceremony will be immediately followed by the Charles and Helen White Symposium on Engineering Innovation, “Intellectual Property: How Well Does the System Protect the Individual Innovator?”

Chinese BYD to Sell Plug-In Hybrid in U.S. by 2010

By dancurranjr On October 29th, 2008

At last year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Chinese automaker BYD surprised industry pundits by bringing an advanced concept for a dual mode hybrid to its stand. Now the battery specialist (BYD’s parent company is also one of the world’s biggest suppliers of rechargeable batteries) claims to be moving the game on even further, saying that it will bring a plug-in hybrid vehicle to the U.S. market by 2010.

BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu has said that the new hybrid, which is most likely to come in the form of the F3 sedan pictured above, will be able to travel up to around 68 miles on electric power alone.

In addition to its previous hybrid concept experience, the plug-in plans are also being greatly bolstered by an alleged investment of $230 million from rich guy Warren Buffet, which should go a long ways towards developing the safety features needed for U.S. regulations. BYD is reportedly getting help with the safety standards via “third-party consulting and engineering companies.”

Despite the fact that BYD doesn’t currently sell any hybrid in its home market, the company has lofty sales goals for the plug-in already—hoping to make the car available not only in the U.S. and China, but eventually in Europe as well.

Source: NextAutos.com

New Fuel Economy Record Set – The 100 Plus Miles Per Gallon Avion

By dancurranjr On October 14th, 2008

The Avion was developed as a lightweight and aerodynamic and very fuel-efficient sports car. The prototype was completed in 1984 and set the Guinness world record for fuel economy in 1986 at 103.7-mpg average driving from the Mexico border to British Columbia Canada border.

The plan at that time was to manufacture the Avion but at the time fuel economy was not as big a concern 20 years ago and we lacked the expertise and the money to tool up and produce the cars.

The car has been designed to be manufactured in small volume using recycled components from the automobile recycling yards. Utilizing standard engines and drive trains installed in the Avion’s light weight and aerodynamic body we can achieve significant improvements in fuel efficacy and performance making the Avion both fun to drive and while getting great mileage. In our testing the car we were able to achieve 80mpg At 70 mph and an astonishing 114mpg at 55mph driving from Eugene Or. To Portland OR.

An Idea twenty years before its time.

On Saturday, October 11 2008, Craig Henderson smashed his old World book record (103.7MPG) and set a new world record in fuel economy (113.1MPG) when he drove his lightweight and aerodynamic automobile – the Avion -from the Canadian border to the Oregon border.

This time, he started at the Canadian border (Bellingham Wa.) at 7:25 morning of October 11 and ending at the Oregon border at Fort Vancouver at 1:00. Henderson traveled 263.1 miles and used 2.326 gallons of diesel averaging 113.1 miles per gallon, even getting stuck twice in Seattle traffic

Henderson is a contender in the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. He is among more than 120 teams from 28 states and 17 countries who signed a letter of intent to compete for their share of a $10 million prize purse, which will be awarded to those that can design and build production-capable, 100 MPGe (miles per gallon energy equivalent) vehicles that people will want to buy and that meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance. “The Avion is fun to drive, and it gets great mileage,” says Henderson with understated pride. “Our car has achieved 113.1 mpg, driving on I-5 from Canada border to the Oregon border. That’s pretty amazing, especially considering we designed and built it over twenty five years ago.”

“I am thrilled to be able to break our old record. This was a personal goal achieved for me and now we set our sites on the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. We are in the process of building another car to compete and hopefully win the X PRIZE and we are seeking corporate or personal sponsorship to help us meet or goals,” Henderson said.

Since setting his first world record in 1986, Henderson and his co-designer Bill Green, a professor at Virginia Tech University, have found ways to manufacture their fuel-efficient cars-which run on diesel gasoline- in limited production, using standard engine parts and drive-trains that are innovative only when teamed with the lightweight, aerodynamic Avion chassis and body.

More InformationL Avion

Automakers Warn Against Using Hybrids as Taxicabs

By dancurranjr On October 14th, 2008

Two of the world’s largest automakers, Toyota and Honda, have issued outright warnings against using their hybrid passenger vehicles as commercial taxicabs. In addition, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Nissan, have refused to certify the crashworthiness of their hybrid New York City taxicabs as modified with mandatory partitions. Instead, the automakers shift that responsibility to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which shift it to the federal government — which does not require automakers to crash test vehicles modified with the hard, bulletproof taxi partitions.
In late 2007, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) mandated that all new taxis, the vast majority of which are required to have partitions, be hybrids or other vehicles that achieve 25 miles-per-gallon, disallowing the purpose-built stretch Ford Crown Victoria taxicab. The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade has mounted a legal challenge, citing a 2008 engineer’s report that finds hybrids to be unsafe and unfit as New York City taxicabs. The mandate has been delayed and awaits a federal court ruling expected later this month.
On August 29, 2008, Richard D. Emery, an attorney for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, wrote to automakers including Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen requesting that they certify that their hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles are manufacturer-approved to be used as taxicabs and safe when modified with partitions and other TLC requirements.
In a September 19th 2008 response to Mr. Emery, a spokesman for Honda said “Honda vehicles are not sold or recommended for use as taxicabs.” However, in a July 16, 2008 industry notice informing taxi owners which vehicles they can purchase for taxi use, the TLC lists the Honda Civic Hybrid as one of nine approved vehicles for taxi use.
Another automaker, Toyota, the largest manufacturer of hybrids in the world, has not responded to Mr. Emery. However, a Toyota spokesman told the New York Times on April 27, 2008, that “our engineers are nervous about it because they were not designed for commercial use.” According to the article, “Toyota did not help convert cars into taxis because they were not intended to be driven so heavily.” Still, in the July 16, 2008 TLC industry notice, the TLC lists 3 Toyotas, the Prius, Highlander and Camry on its approved vehicle list — 1/3 of all approved vehicles. Several Toyotas remain in service as New York City taxicabs.
Nissan, which claims to be committing up to 200 Altima Hybrid taxicabs per month, refers Mr. Emery to a July 23, 2008 TLC letter that claims the partitions do not hinder side curtain airbag deployment. Nissan offers no crash test results on Altimas that are modified with partitions and concludes its response by stating: “If you have an underlying concern with the mandate to use fuel efficient vehicles, this situation is a result of New York policies, not Nissan’s actions.”
At a September 10th 2008 New York City Council hearing, Ford Motor Company acknowledged that “there is an increased risk for belted occupants to contact the partition in a collision” for “any vehicle with a smaller occupant space than the stretch Crown Victoria” noting that it is “not unique to the Escape Hybrid” which indeed has much smaller occupant space than a stretch Crown Victoria. Ford refused to certify the crashworthiness of Escape Hybrid taxicabs outfitted with partitions, instead shifting responsibility to the TLC which it says “has an important job in making judgments that balance competing benefits and risks involving driver and customer safety in a unique operating environment.”
General Motors also refused to certify the crashworthiness of its Chevy Malibu Hybrid taxicab when modified with a partition or other TLC requirements. In a letter to Mr. Emery dated September 25th, 2008, GM wrote “your client’s concerns about the taxicab partitions required by the TLC should be addressed to the TLC.” GM was silent about the Saturn Vue Hybrid, which also appears on the TLC’s approved vehicle list.
Volkswagen, which produces a clean diesel Jetta that appears on the TLC approved list, was also asked to certify the safety, suitability and crashworthiness of its TLC-approved hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles when modified with partitions and placed into service as taxicabs but, to date, has not responded.
The TLC has confirmed that it does not crash test hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions and says it relies, in large part, on federal testing to assert the safety of hybrid taxicabs. However, it has also been established that there are no federal crash tests for hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions — nor are there front or rear crash tests in unmodified hybrids for adult rear occupants, which comprise the majority of taxi passengers. Hybrid automakers explicitly warn against any modifications to hybrid vehicles in the owner manuals. And indeed, according to automotive engineer C. Bruce Gambardella, partitions in hybrids are a “crude modification” that “changes the entire interior environment and takes us back about a half a century in automotive safety.”
MTBOT is the country’s largest taxi fleet association. It represents 27 yellow medallion taxi fleets in New York City and over 3,500 medallion taxicabs — approximately 25% of the taxi industry. MTBOT members have operated more than 30 different vehicles over several decades including minivans, Compressed Natural Gas vehicles and hybrids. MTBOT advocates on behalf of its members, its 14,000 drivers and the riding public.
Source: MarketWatch

Toyota May Expand Prius Hybrid Line

By dancurranjr On October 13th, 2008

Toyota Motor may create a separate brand for its Prius hybrid car and could add both larger and smaller Prius models to the lineup, the head of Toyota’s American sales division said Thursday.

James E. Lentz III, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said he had proposed the idea to senior company executives in Japan. Lentz said he did not know when they might approve the project, but said he would meet with executives in Japan next month to discuss future models.

Toyota officials first discussed the concept of a separate Prius brand at the Detroit auto show in January.

Lentz, who spoke after the dedication of Toyota’s new safety and engineering center in Ann Arbor, said the Prius brand would be similar to Scion, Toyota’s brand of lower-priced cars aimed at younger buyers.

The brand would include the original Prius as well as new models bearing a Prius nameplate that Toyota is said to be developing.

The separate Prius brand would be sold only in the United States, Lentz said, and is not under consideration for other parts of the world. One future version could be smaller than the original Prius. In addition, “there could be one on steroids,” meaning a bigger version of Prius, Lentz said.

Toyota plans to introduce the next-generation version of Prius in January at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, where it also will unveil a new hybrid car for its Lexus luxury brand.

The next-generation Prius will be bigger than the current car and initially will be built in Japan, Lentz said. Toyota plans to start building the Prius at a new plant in Blue Springs, Miss., in 2010. Lentz said the plant would be started regardless of whether the company decided to introduce the separate brand.

Toyota has not provided many details on a “Prius on steroids” model. The company is also said to be working on a crossover version of the Prius, although Lentz declined comment.

He asserted that Toyota was not planning to sell Prius vehicles in separate dealerships, like its Lexus models. Instead, a broader Prius lineup will be sold alongside Toyota and Scion cars in Toyota dealerships, he said.

Toyota has said it plans to make a hybrid-electric system available on every vehicle it sells worldwide sometime in the next decade. The models intended for Prius would be designed specifically as hybrids, however.

In a sense, Lentz said, consumers have already created the Prius brand, and the company is just catching up to the marketplace. The Prius accounts for 75 percent of the hybrid-electric cars sold in the United States, he said. Americans buy 65 to 70 percent of all Toyota hybrids sold worldwide.

“We’re catching the wind with this,” he said.

Source: Rutland Herald