Just read an excellent article from FastCompany about Johnathan Goodwin, a professional gearhead that has been doing what Detroit says is impossible; modifying the largest trucks and SUV’s and making them more powerful with lower emissions and higher mpg, almost exclusively with off the shelf parts from the same auto manufacturers. My favorite quote from the article was plastered on the front page which is “Detroit could do all this stuff overnight if it wanted to”. Here’s an excerpt.
Goodwin, a 37-year-old who looks like Kevin Costner with better hair, is a professional car hacker. The spic-and-span shop is filled with eight monstrous trucks and cars–Hummers, Yukon XLs, Jeeps–in various states of undress. His four tattooed, twentysomething grease monkeys crawl all over them with wrenches and welding torches.
Goodwin leads me over to a red 2005 H3 Hummer that’s up on jacks, its mechanicals removed. He aims to use the turbine to turn the Hummer into a tricked-out electric hybrid. Like most hybrids, it’ll have two engines, including an electric motor. But in this case, the second will be the turbine, Goodwin’s secret ingredient. Whenever the truck’s juice runs low, the turbine will roar into action for a few seconds, powering a generator with such gusto that it’ll recharge a set of “supercapacitor” batteries in seconds. This means the H3’s electric motor will be able to perform awesome feats of acceleration and power over and over again, like a Prius on steroids. What’s more, the turbine will burn biodiesel, a renewable fuel with much lower emissions than normal diesel; a hydrogen-injection system will then cut those low emissions in half. And when it’s time to fill the tank, he’ll be able to just pull up to the back of a diner and dump in its excess french-fry grease–as he does with his many other Hummers. Oh, yeah, he adds, the horsepower will double–from 300 to 600.
“Conservatively,” Goodwin muses, scratching his chin, “it’ll get 60 miles to the gallon. With 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. You’ll be able to smoke the tires. And it’s going to be superefficient.”
He laughs. “Think about it: a 5,000-pound vehicle that gets 60 miles to the gallon and does zero to 60 in five seconds!”