Fever fol­lows our Matis

New ‘through-the-road’ sys­tem aims to turn small cars into hybrid, like we did

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN • al­wyn.viljoen@wit­ness.co.za

IT is, in theory, quite sim­ple to turn any car into an elec­tric hybrid with four or two-wheel drive.

For­mer Mar­itzburg me­chanic Jens Denks and I proved in Septem­ber 2014, when we cre­ated just such a hybrid car to race with at Hakskeen­pan. We are still very proud with the re­sults of our latenight labours with the an­gle grinder.

The rough cal­cu­la­tions on the back of an oil-stained en­ve­lope show ours to be the world’s fastest, strong­est (and so far only) hybrid 4x4 Dae­woo Ma­tiz. It even has a big red knob marked “elec­tric” to en­gage the oth­er­wise rat­tling mo­tor­bike chain be­tween the fork-lift mo­tor and sprocket welded to the rear diff.

Now, we are not sure if it was our ef­fort alone that in­spired four ma­jor com­pa­nies to do what we did, but we can sell them a lot good ad­vice*. And they cer­tainly can af­ford to pay.

Var­i­ous UK gov­ern­ment agen­cies have granted some R73,6 mil­lion in to­tal to four com­pa­nies to re­search a “through-the-road” hybrid sys­tem, in which the in­ter­nal-com­bus­tion en­gine drives the front wheels and the elec­tric mo­tor pow­ers the rear wheels.

The four com­pa­nies with a fin­ger in this R73-mil­lion pie are Con­trolled Power Tech­nolo­gies (CPT), Ri­cardo, Provec­tor and Tata.

CPT will de­velop the elec­tric mo­tor and con­trol sys­tem, Ri­cardo is a global en­gi­neer­ing, strate­gic and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tancy with a vi­sion to max­imise ef­fi­ciency and elim­i­nate waste, and Provec­tor is a small com­pany in Cam­bridge that spe­cialises in power-elec­tron­ics, con­trol and bat­tery sys­tems for hybrid and elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Tata will pro­vide two small cars.

There is a good chance that the fine en­gi­neers em­ployed by this four­some won’t need, or heed, our ad­vice and that their hybrid may as con­se­quence be a bit faster than our Atos.

We still blame the lack of space on the back of that en­ve­lope for not al­low­ing us to fac­tor in just how much slower the weight of four big truck bat­ter­ies, a fork-lift mo­tor and a Corolla steel axle would make our lit­tle car.

As things stands, the bar for the next “through-the-road” hybrid sys­tem is not set very high.

The un­of­fi­cial word record for a hybrid 4x4 Matis (noted on the down slope of Vic­to­ria Road in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg) was about 32 km/h.

We sim­ply called our project the 4x4ing Ma­tiz (and as the dead­line for the race got closer and closer, the fork­ing Ma­tiz).

The well-funded four­some calls their axle-in-a-lit­tle car project “Fever” — for FortyEight Volt Elec­tri­fied Rear-axle.

We like to think the com­pa­nies are in this way pay­ing oblique homage to our Wit­ness Wheels ef­fort, for Fever is also the group ti­tle for our com­mu­nity papers. * Mainly, don’t do what we did.

PHOTO: ARMAND VAN ASWEGEN

Wheels ed­i­tor Al­wyn Viljoen in the world’s fastest (and so far only) hybrid 4x4 Dae­woo Ma­tiz, built in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and now buzzing about in Namibia.

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