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Thursday, November 5, 2009

The $1600 hybrid sports car

The NYT has an interesting post about a Portland engineer who built a $1600 hybrid out of a used Pontiac Fiero:
[Bryce] Nash, who works for Daimler Trucks North America, built his hybrid Fiero for just “$1,600 and change.” He started with a 1988 Fiero Formula with a dismantled engine, bought on Craigslist for $500. His real find, located in a Michigan junkyard for $800, was the electric motor and inverter from an electric Chevrolet S10 pickup [PDF]. The batteries came from several Toyota Priuses (about $250 a pack), and totaling at best guess around four kilowatt hours.
A major theme of this blog is the importance of cost-effective cleantech solutions. Obviously $1600 isn’t going to be the retail product for a new hybrid car (perhaps an electric scooter), but technology diffusion theory demonstrates how hybrids will remain a niche product until the prices become competitive with existing products.

Fortunately, Honda has decided that economy cars should be, well, economical, and is working on low-cost hybrid versions of the Fit and CR-Z, with both due next fall.

Sensing a challenge to its hybrid near-monopoly (and monopoly rents), Toyota’s working on a hybrid Yaris, presumably at priced below the $22k MSRP of the 3rd generation Prius, currently the lowest priced hybrid in the US (according to Edmunds).

To me the real question is: why isn’t Nash working on converting a Rambler (or perhaps an AMC Gremlin) rather than a GM car?

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