This is an exciting time for gear heads with a taste for innovation. New concepts and technologies seem to appear almost on a daily basis. But with innovation come more choices. Consumers can choose from gasoline engines, electric engines or their offspring, the hybrid. A new concept from a Romanian design team could relieve that burden. The new concept has an engine that is easily detached and changed out from gas to electric and back again.
Romanian design team
The SCI hyMod five-door mini-car concept is the creative brainchild of Romanian designers Dan Scarlat, Marian Cilibeanu and Cristian Ionescu.
Engine choice depends on range
The idea behind a detachable engine is to improve the efficiency of a vehicle by selecting the appropriate engine for the planned trip. For city driving, short trips to work and to the store, electric-powered motor is the logical choice. However, for longer trips, the motorist will want to select the gasoline engine by virtue of its longer range.
Engine and tank dead weight
How is this an improvement over the hybrid and how does it increase fuel efficiency? Lithium-ion batteries have a relatively short range. That will improve over time, but probably slowly. According to Torque News, most experts say that the batteries will increase range by 6 to 8 percent a year as the technology improves. Therefore, hybrids need the backup gas engine if traveling for a significant distance. But the gas engine will generally not kick in at all during daily jaunts around town. For those trips, the engine and fuel tank are dead weight, dragging down efficiency and fuel economy. Without the addition of the engine and fuel tank, an EV’s range could be extended greatly.
‘Logistics center’ easily changes engines
The concept car is built with a modular engine compartment that allows for a quick change at a home “dedicated logistics center.” The automated system detaches the rear-mounted engine, removes it and replaces it with a battery pack option or vice-versa. The owner will also have the option of adding a second battery pack to extend in-town driving range.
Stiffer standards drive innovation
Increasingly stiff fuel economy standards in the U.S. and tougher carbon emission mandates in Europe and Asia have spurred designers and engineers to find ways to make vehicles more efficient and less-polluting. Could the hyMod SCI concept be a glimpse at the future, where we change out a vehicle’s engine like changing batteries in a flashlight?