Another failed electric car.

Aptera motors.  Belly up.  The idea behind the Aptera was pretty good.  By excessively streamlining everything to get the most efficiency possible by reducing as much drag as possible, allows the car to get the most movement from the motivation.

The problem with the Aptera car is that it’s pretty much a standard electric.  Plug it in, charge it up, drive for a couple miles, then you have to plug it back in.   If you live in a city and only need to drive a couple miles to work and back… well.. maybe then such electric cars could work for you. But where I live, this sort of E-Car is pretty much completely useless.

Here is the layout that would work… and it’s simple, rugged, and reliable.  In fact, this system is used daily, all over the country.  Trains. We use a small, efficient diesel engine that spins a large flywheel.  The flywheel turns a generator which charges a bank of batteries.  The power then goes to the four electric motors.  One powering each wheel.  This gives the car an active computer controlled all wheel drive system so the car could actually be decent to drive.  Now, we add in some regenerative braking and efficiency is improved.

I’ve talked about this sort of electric car before, only to have some shoot the idea down because they thought I was talking about putting the electric motors in the wheels.  No, in the car, but not in the wheels.

Okay, so hands raised in the back of the room… yes.  You.  “You’re still burning fuel, how is this more efficient than a regular car?”  That’s a great question.  Talking about a car’s efficiency, the biggest drain on it is the transmission.  This layout doesn’t have one. Right there, there is a great deal of gain in efficiency.  Also, the computer system could control the engine’s RPM’s and fuel consumption based on output requirement, or even shut it down all together.   This system doesn’t require anything to be plugged in, to be recharged, and it can be driven farther than any other electric.  Unlike other hybrid systems, like the Prius… this is a true hybrid system… the petroleum powered engine doesn’t drive the wheels at all… and it doesn’t have a transmission. Which makes this system more efficient than any of those.  Also, it needs fewer heavy batteries.  So this type of car could actually be fun to drive… might even handle.  And like Cousin Jeremy is always concerned about, it could go around a corner.


13 thoughts on “Another failed electric car.”

  1. A quick Google search turns up several diesel electric sports cars of the sort you describe. Unfortunately, none are from big name car makers (yet). Some look pretty sharp like the Factory Five Racing chassis. It’s interesting enough that it might be worthwhile to roll your own.

  2. Screw the batteries. diesel generator charging capacitors. Like the Oshkosh Hemmit. Then you don’t have the batt maintenance and a longer life.

  3. One of the European car makers is doing exactly that – putting electric motors in each wheel, and a generator in the car. Audi I think….

    The problem is that it takes some coordination to make sure the wheels are spinning at the right rate relative to each other through a turn, so you don’t spin-out. They have a working prototype and expect a car in the next couple of years.

    We won’t see it because aside from VW, the EPA has banned every small diesel in use in Europe. And there are quite a few.

  4. Trains, 18th century tech solution to a 21st. century problem. Don’t take you where you want to go. Don’t go when you want to go. Don’t take you home when you want to go home. Run by Unions. ALL trains in the US currently require tax payer subsidys to the tune of 2 to 3 times the actual cost of the ride vs. what the riders are charged to keep running. Buy a train set Ogre.

    1. You know, I really don’t think Ogre is suggesting that we replace our cars with trains.
      A little work on your reading comprehension is in order. Just read his post again, slowly. Use a dictionary where needed. It’s ok to stop and sound out the big words.

  5. The US Military ran some prototype electric motors ran off of diesel engines/generators and batteries back in the 1970’s. It was kind of a good news, bad news situation. Lot’s of torque with no need for a complex transmission for off road use, extra electrical power for aux. equipment. The bad news was the batteries. Too heavy when they have enough capacity and life for everything. This was with ye olde/lead acid batteries. Also the whole vehicle ended up being rather too heavy for overseas transport. Right now they’ve got lighter batteries but they are too expensive because of the use of rare earth elements. There are advances being made in the research for lighter batteries with cheaper materials but it is not quite there yet. There is also research being done on exotic materials for the fly wheel. They are trying to make one that can be spun up to really high rpms without coming apart to store energy. They think they might be able to bypass the use of batteries altogether. I think it was Mercedes that had an engine that they were gearing a high voltage/frequency generator directly because they were using electrical motors to spin the valve cams and cars are using more electricity these days.
    Anyway I think there is more future in a hybrid than something you have to plug into a socket to charge up.

  6. I am a Diesel fan, but I’ve only owned one for a brief period, an elderly Buick driver tried to park in the space I left it in and there was a brick wall…sigh no end of paperwork. I had to invoke a lawyer.

    The system has been used in medium armor vehicles and massive off road equipment. I would bust a gut to own a Ford Fusion wagon with the Ford/Peugeot 2.4 Turbo-diesel from Jolly Old England.

    There is an electric motor based on the disk brake and regenerative recovery. I haven’t seen much about it in years. If it would hold up to Cleveland/Detroit/Chicago winters and salt I do not know. I think Ford should try this on an E-100 Van, or that new cut down Euro-van they are bringing in to replace the Econoline.

    Who can dream, can’t he?

  7. “In fact, this system is used daily, all over the country. Trains.”

    I call as I see em Mogg. I was reacting to and commenting on the use of and abuse of trains and in our state they are being jammed down our throats as the state goes broke, same same CA. The rest is an interesting idea for transport, maybe I was not clear on that but – One finger to you.

    1. Uhhh, I don’t think the Ogre wants trains everywhere. Most non-commuter trains use a diesel electric drive train. A smaller dino fueled engine makes electricity due to a connection to a generator. Electric traction motors provide the go-force.

      This can be used in autos and pickups with ease. Instead of the current most common hybrid system that has an electric motor suppliment the dino fueled engine.

      No rails involved. Your reading comprehention is worse than my spelling.

  8. Energy losses getting energy into the battery, energy losses getting it back out of the battery, energy losses in the electric motors, etc… Diesel electric trains don’t use batteries, they do have flywheels but that is just to smooth out the impulses, not really to store power, more like a mechanical capacitor.

    Far better to supply the motive force of the engine directly to the wheels themselves then to have all these intermediaries each taxing the system.

    They all ready make small diesel cars that beat the hell out of the prius and other hybrids for far less money. We just can’t get them here in the states.

    The EPA regulations are flawed, it shouldn’t be emissions per gallon, this is outdated thinking from when all cars got the same relative crappy mileage. Nobody drives by the gallon, they drive by the mile. (I drive so many miles to work, not so many gallons, miles don’t change, gallons do based on vehicle conditions etc…) Emissions per mile would show some diesel european cars would make the prius blush.

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