Hybrid training wheels...the Poulsen Hybrid

Has anyone else seen the Poulsen Hybrid entry to the Automotive X Prize competition?

It a really interesting concept:

Basically you take an existing ICE car, retrofit the two rear wheels with rare earth motors on the wheels, slap on a couple of batteries in the trunk and you have an electrical assist form of propulsion during highway cruising speeds!

Here’s a bit from their site:
The development is based on the observation that only 10-15 horsepower is required to propel a compact or mid-size automobile along a level road at a steady 60-70 mph. leading to the conclusion that this relatively small amount of electric power would be able to cope with 70-85% of normal driving, only aided by the combustion engine during start up and when extra energy is required for acceleration and hill climbing.

They’re estimating it costing about 3 grand if you install it yourself or pay a $600 install fee.

Personally I think this is a GREAT idea. I would slap them on my car, with no reservations. Granted it would make my car look like it was wear it’s retainer out to drive, but if the MPG improvement was as high as they predict, I could care less. I’ve been continually turned off by the trend of whacky looking EV and hybrid cars. I mean is it really that hard to get an efficient vehicle that can carry 4 people and have it not look like a psychedelic jelly bean?

Couple concerns about it though:
What happens when they get a flat?
How do you control the power being sent to these things? Is it tied into the acceleration and braking systems, or does it auto kick it at cruising speeds?
Could they please remove that tacky sticker :slight_smile: ?

Other people’s thoughts?

So you’d rather have a whacky looking bar attached to the rear wheel of your car?

If you are looking for a more efficient vehicle, you are forced to improve aerodynamics, or drive less than 20mph.


Haha, yup, I’d much rather tack on a solution like this to my car (preferably one with a bit more design sensibility, and a matching color to my car’s exterior) for $3000, if it could achieve 100mpg than drive around in any of these jelly beans

But to each their own. I can definitely understand this option not being appealing to some. I guess I’m just a little disappointed by the lack of more formal 4 door 5 passenger solutions for EV and Hybrid vehicles, seems like the majority of the focus has gone toward super flashy over priced sports cars or tiny single/double occupancy cars.

I like my sedan, I like the four doors. I like being able to move other people with me. I like being able to fold down the back seats every weekend when I’m moving large objects. Now if I can have all these features, plus 100mpg efficiency without having to buy a new car, screw aesthetics, it’s a no brainer for me.

I like the concept, hate the execution. It’s people like this that desperately need industrial design.

On another note…what about a bolt on start-stop system? This will shut the car off at stop lights, saving fuel and reducing emissions. In cities, like NYC, LA, etc, the savings might be large. I figure, all one would need is a bigger alternator (which would restart the car maybe?) and some electronics that would monitor the existing sensors (clutch sensor, throttle position, etc). I figure if produced in volumes of tens of thousands, the price might be under $500, which is quite an obtainable price.

Of course, this solution would not be at all sexy, only sensible.

I like the idea of the bolt on start stop system.

I agree this solution is pretty fugly, and it’s only the first prototype, so it could get a lot prettier.

Quick PS to show difference when color is closer to car’s:

Might do a quick redesign on this if I get some time this weekend.

It reminds me a little of Syd Mead’s “spinner car” from Blade Runner, except not cool.
Now this certainly does look awkward, but I’ve seen far worse looking mods for appearance and performance.
Strangely, if the horizontal part were to be placed towards the front of the rear wheel I think it would be much better looking.
Hell, for 100mpg I’d put truck balls on my car.

it looks like an ear-bud on a car

That could be the key to success, style it like an iPod ear piece.

I worry about the torque arm attaching to the bumper cover, it is only plastic and designed to break away. I’d rather see a bent torque arm which attaches to the rocker panel under the door although that would require longer cables. A mount to the rocker panel could allow a clamp on fitment so it can be removed and fitted to your next ICE powered car. The clamp would have one side in the rear door opening and the other side of the clamp on the seam under the car where the emergency jack normally locates. Double sided tape would prevent paint damage and a blanking gromet used to close the cable loom hole at removal. There are normally plenty of edges under a car to clip the loom to and keep it out of the way of moving parts.

I hope this makes sense to someone apart from me.

No that makes sense patsparks.
For sure, there definitely a lot left to be desired with this concept.
I wonder what sort of possibilities there could be for some sort of in wheel motor bolt-on package? Something like the Lancer EV concept?

You know, I’ve been thinking something along those lines all day. Maybe a complete replacement of the brake and hub. The hub motor could throw it’s torque against the brake mounting and be actively powered in reverse to act as a brake when regenerative is not enough deceleration.


Though I agree with you about the jellybean look, you need to spend more time learning about the limitations of electric motors and batteries. They’re made small and seat little because they have to be light. Because current (affordable) battery technology can’t store enough charge to last anything more than 200km.

Hence the promotion of them mainly as a city commuter or for those who don’t need to commute long distances all the time.

This reminds me of something that I thought was called ‘electrocharging’ but I can’t remember the link anymore. You basically got a kit that replaced your alternator with a motor and hooked up to the crankshaft to assist the engine. Kind of like a spotter in weightlifting.

Anyway, Honda calls it IMA: