Fever follows our Matis
New ‘through-the-road’ system aims to turn small cars into hybrid, like we did
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.
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.