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m_stiefvater's post about wanting to convert her bitchin' Camaro to a more green machine prompted me to look up the awesome Neil Young LincVolt, which has been covered by the hot rodding magazines. They're finally catching on to the electric muscle car notion, and people are starting to use electrics for hot-rodding. My favorite example of late is the awesome - and HUGE - hybrid electric-diesel 1959 Lincoln Continental (click for lots more photos). Check it out:

Click the image to see the LincVolt story.

Neil Young (for whom LincVolt built the car) reportedly gets 100mpg with this car. Seriously. Originally, it got mpg in the mid-single-digits. It uses a hybrid engine and can run on battery alone or burn biodiesel fuel to make electricity and power the motors for long-range driving. They manage this system by separating the fuel engine from the drivetrain; the fuel-powered lump only powers a generator, which charges the batteries, which drive the car. A diesel engine can run at peak torque far more efficiently than a gas engine, thus running the generator at max efficiency; this is how a giant car can get 100mpg. One hundred miles per gallon. Are you reading this, OEMs? Talk about environmentally friendly PLUS sexy.

My next car project (should I ever get enough free time to finish my current one...) will be such a setup. Heck, I might just do the conversion now on the hot-rod Newport....

PS: If you listen to NPR in this area, you've probably heard the ads for Art of the Car Concours this Sunday, June 27 on the KCAI campus at 45th and Oak streets. If I get my reading done for the SF Writers Workshop, I'll be there!




( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
Pretty much how a diesel-electric locomotive runs, no?
- E
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! Makes you wonder why car companies aren't doing this already....
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Is that a steady 100mpg? Because I've broken -- heck, *shattered* -- 100mpg over short distances (8-10 miles.) Long haul, I generally manage in the neighborhood of 60. Temperature impacts mileage. In the winter, I get around 50, sometimes a bit better. Last summer, I averaged 62mpg over 3200 miles. I'd love to get a steady 100, which I understand can be done with the plug-in modification. Previously, I said it was too costly, but now, I'm wondering....
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Impresssive...
I can't quite decipher their data, but it looks like they're talking about overall driving. I expect that includes plugging in while parked; the weight it just so high that unless they're getting energy from the air, it seems really unlikely.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Pound-for-pound, the TARDIS saves more energy than most cars half its size...
100mpg has been the holy grail of internal combustion engines for some years now. (30? 40?) No commercially-built hybrid beats the Prius on overall mileage, not even the Volt. (Both are heavy cars, too -- the batteries are heavy.) I think a lot of it is how you drive, too. I get better than factory specs, now, but I was getting factory spec before they lowered it. People were complaining that the Prius did not perform as promised (say that ten times fast) but in fact, if you *go the speed limit*, you will get the good mileage.

It's possible this paragon outperforming a person's Prius (20 times) is only being driven in town. Mileage statistics are reversed in hybrids -- the better mileage is in town, the lower is highway.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Pound-for-pound, the TARDIS saves more energy than most cars half its size...
The mileage will be better in town because of the fact that these cars then get plugged in. Without plugging, once the bateries are down, the mileage for a series hybrid should actually be WORSE than a regular car because of the extra weight (although regenerative braking will help), which isn't free to lug around.

So if electricity prices are good, and you only run the car a few miles a day, there is nothing better than a Hybrid - unless your local utilities are burning coal, of course, which makes electricity dirtier than a modern internal combustion engine!

Strange days we live in...
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Pound-for-pound, the TARDIS saves more energy than most cars half its size...
I've been driving a hybrid for four years now. It is not a plug-in and it does get better mileage at under-45 than over-45 speeds. It charges when I brake, go down hill, or sometimes, just for the heck of it.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Pound-for-pound, the TARDIS saves more energy than most cars half its size...
I agree, on all counts. I'm guessing that using a lightweight turbodiesel and a light battery pack might weigh less than a gas engine and a pile of batteries as most hybrid manufacturers use now. Eliminating the transmission would save more weight, plus would raise efficiency a lot - transmissions suck up a ton of power, especially automatics.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Pound-for-pound, the TARDIS saves more energy than most cars half its size...
The hybrid batteries are very heavy. Toyota is working on a way to lighten them. Diesel, I have not, but gasohol, I have. Asyouknowbob, I cannot drive a standard, or the State of New York would arrest me, and well they should.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Pound-for-pound, the TARDIS saves more energy than most cars half its size...
Ha! Yep.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
I think you'd enjoy reading the great article on hybrid MPG in the November 2009 issue of Road & Track.

In a shocking revelation, it seems that these numbers are not quite as straightforward to measure as manufacturers and environmentalists would have us believe (gasp) and that the claims of 123 MPG (or whatever) rely mostly on the assymetrical nature of information availability between manufacturers and the average US citizen... Wow, who would have though it, huh?

Of course, the use of Diesel WILL make a car burn less fuel, but you have to wonder what mathematical oddities are ocurring when it is more efficient to have the friction of TWO motors in play than just one. Why is storing stuff in batteries more efficient than direct drive?

Hybrids are better, but not by as much as they are trying to make us think.

Having said that, the Lincoln is still way cool.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
Ha! True about the mpg estimates being weird (I read that article, too - good stuff). However, the particular setup I'm discussing here eliminates the complexity, weight, and inefficiency of connecting the fuel engine to the driveline, using an ultra-efficient turbodiesel (also very light) to serve only as a generator - and that allows it to carry fewer batteries, because it doesn't store energy so much as route it through the batteries. I suspect the weight of the Lincoln is actually down over its original configuration!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)
I know! Though I read an article in Mother Jones a while back, and they determined that keeping an old car on the road is better for the environment than replacing it with a much more efficient modern car. Viola!

That explosion wasn't the prototype; that was a hydrogen-fuel accident at a water-to-energy plant. Only the guy who demo'd to them blew up, not the hybrid place. I saw that, too, and worried for a moment!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
Well, you're doing the environmentally responsible thing in TWO ways! Good mpg PLUS keeping a used car on the road.

People who own Miatas should keep them on the road forever, they're so cool. Just sayin'.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
The Prius was the first new car I ever owned. I was going to get a used one, but the cheaper used one couldn't take my special pedal, and the more expensive one was the same price as the new one! My Corsica had 185,000 miles on it, so...
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've only ever bought one new car, myself. Considering it had sat on the lot for a year, I feel that buying it didn't encourage more manufacturing of new cars, thus serving as a sort of used car... well, these are the things we tell ourselves.
Jun. 24th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Hmmm.... indeed.

I figured, "Hey. On the negative, new car. On the positive, Toyota, so it'll be around a while."

Anyway, it saved my life, so we're bonded now.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )