By using removable battery packs the necessity of parking the vehicle near an electrical socket becomes eliminated resulting in the battery packs coming to the electrical outlet.
Plug-in hybrids are at the forefront of this dramatic change in environmental consciousness which is resulting in a surge of research and development. UK based automotive designers/consultancy, MIRA, are making their contribution with a retro-fitted hybrid conversion system that will upgrade existing vehicles. The highlight of the system is not to achieve hyper-economic mpg figures, despite the potential to save 61% on fuel costs and lower tailpipe emissions by 39%, but instead make hybrid technology more accessible and transferable.
MIRA has achieved wider accessibility by removing the main limitation of plug-in hybrids which is, plugging-in. By using removable battery packs the necessity of parking the vehicle near an electrical socket becomes eliminated resulting in the battery packs coming to the electrical outlet. This becomes particularly enabling for people who live in an apartment or housing development where outdoor electrical sockets are not available. Despite this, the ultimate goal of the project was to demonstrate transferability, meaning the portable battery packs can be used in as many places as possible, not just the car itself. Such applications would include camping equipment for SUV variants, power electric jet skis or quad bikes. However, judging by the size of the three lithium-ion phosphate batteries packs required (2 packs pictured above) which are each the size of a PC tower, it seems the portability benefits might be hampered slightly. In order for this retrofit hybrid concept to be consumer viable, the battery packs must be significantly smaller.
In addition to MIRA's regenerative braking system, the retro kit consists of adding two 35 kW inboard electric motors which power the rear wheels through MIRA's e-differential while the 60 kW petrol engine powers the front wheels as normal resulting in 50/50 power distribution from front to rear. The only requirements from the host vehicle include throttle by-wire system and some other basics, to avoid duplicating unnecessary workload.
See press release below for further details.