Prototype Modular EV/HEV Does Less for More
A design team in Romania has designed a hybrid vehicle like no other. Depending on how you equip it that day or week or whatever, it’s either an electric vehicle [EV] or a hybrid-electric vehicle [HEV]. How did they pull this off? Better yet, why?
At its heart, the SCI hyMod is an EV, with a 42 kW electric motor on the front axle, powered by a 5 kWh battery pack in the floor. The vehicle is modular, that is, the main power plant is exchangeable. Mounted on rails in the back of the vehicle is, either a 17 kWh rechargeable “battery pack,” or an 82 hp “engine pack,” which includes an internal-combustion engine, fuel tank, cooling system, and CVT to engage the rear wheels.
Depending on your needs, you can either equip your SCI hyMod either way. As an EV, with the “battery pack” installed, the vehicle functions as a front-wheel drive with a maximum range of about 100 miles. With the “engine pack,” the HEV combines the front motor with the rear engine for a total output of about 150 hp.
As an HEV, the SCI hyMod is estimated to get 39 mpg, which begs the question, “Why do they estimate that this concept will cost $33,000 without the packs?” which according to SCI, “if we were to add the price of the two separate modules, the total price of the car would go up considerably.” Added to the initial vehicle cost is an unspecified monthly flat fee for the packs, as well as additional fees for use of the hyMod Stations which automatically swap packs, depending on your driving needs.
Keep in mind that the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid starts at $32,000 and gets 50 mpg. A better deal, in my opinion. The 2012 Chevy Volt EV extended-range vehicle starts at $31,650 [after federal tax incentives] and real-world fuel economy is over 100 mpg. I would love to see the GM Ultralite come back, which would be a better option, and less complicated. It’s an interesting concept, but it doesn’t seem very cost-effective when there are so many other options with better specifications, fewer complications, and smaller price tags.