The prestigious Australian Dyson Award this year has recognized a unique REVR retrofit kit, being developed with the intention to transform conventional ICE vehicles into cost-effective hybrids at a price point below US$3,200 and with an installation time of under a day.
While it might seem an audacious idea at first glance, design student Alexander Burton from RMIT University is deep into creating the system’s most intricate component: a slim, high-powered, liquid-cooled 50-kW motor set to fit between a car’s wheel and brake disc.
This motor is designed in an axial flux pancake style; its stator functions as a flat plate that attaches to fixed parts behind the wheel hub. The rotor, another flat component, transmits power using the wheel’s bolts.
Adapting it to various car models will necessitate a specific adapter plate, but its setup is anticipated to be straightforward, lasting just about 10 minutes without needing expert skills.
The vehicle’s trunk, specifically where the spare tire is typically placed, will accommodate the battery unit and motor controllers. This circular space can house roughly a 15-kWh battery, which according to Burton, should offer over 100 km (62 miles) of purely electric drive during city commutes, leveraging regenerative braking.
This should suffice for most individuals’ daily journeys. The REVR (Rapid Electric Vehicle Retrofits) kit largely retains the car’s original structure, functioning either alongside the combustion engine or independently.
Igniting the car remains standard: turn the key to “on” and use an additional switch for electric propulsion, or rotate the key further to activate the combustion engine. If the conventional engine stays off, the main battery will ensure the standard 12-V battery remains charged for operations like headlights.
For features powered by the engine’s belts, such as air conditioning or heating, electric alternatives or enhancements will be part of the kit. The method to integrate with the accelerator pedal is still in Burton’s contemplation. Moreover, a mechanism to deactivate the electric motor during reverse is essential.
A dashboard indicator displaying battery status might be another consideration. The estimated price for a fully-fitted dual-motor, 15-kWh system stands below AU$5,000 (US$3,200), presenting a compelling proposition for many.
The legality of this car modification remains a query. The initial vehicle to undergo this transformation will be Burton’s 2001 Corolla in the coming months, with the motor’s prototype still in progress.
Though the REVR offers significant torque augmentation, Burton doesn’t regard it as a tool for performance enhancement. While a 15-kWh kit is the primary focus, Burton envisions offering complete engine removals for a full electric shift in the future.
A comprehensive electric switch with an extended battery will naturally be pricier, but its modular design should make it significantly more affordable than typical EV conversions.
Ultimately, the aim is to provide an efficient and affordable method for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint without investing in a brand-new EV or hybrid.
Certainly, it’s a commendable initiative. However, Burton has a journey ahead, ensuring the system’s dependability, safety, functionality, and legality across a wide array of vehicles. His endeavors are keenly awaited.