URI Launches Switchgrass Engineering Project to Improve Biofuel Crop
US Sales of Hybrids in November Up 13.8% Year-on-Year

Zytek Introduces Plug-In Hybrid Demonstrator smart for four

Zytek’s prototype diesel-electric plug-in series hybrid.

Zytek, in conjunction with Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC), has launched a demonstration diesel-electric plug-in hybrid version of a smart for four in London.

The lithium-ion battery pack from LTC subsidiary GAIA Akkumulatorenwerke can be charged by either the internal combustion engine (ICE) and by regenerative braking or by household mains (plug-in hybrid). The vehicle has a fuel economy of more than 84 mpg Imp. (3.36 l/100km or about 70 mpg US) and an all-electric range of 20 miles.

The battery pack has an output of 288 V, a capacity of 7.5 Ah (or about 2.2 kWh of energy) and a capability to deliver 25 kW of power.

Zytek was awarded £1.8 million (US$3.6 million) by the Energy Saving Trust to develop the new HEV. (Earlier post.) The vehicle utilizes a hybrid power train based on a 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine coupled with two high-efficiency permanent-magnet electric motors. This car is part of the “Ultra Low Carbon Car Challenge” project that is supported by the Energy Saving Trust.

The vehicle has combined technology developed by LTC, Zytek and I+ME for an advanced Battery Management System (BMS). The system is equipped with additional safety features to control the charging of the battery from the mains. The BMS has been designed to communicate with the vehicles’ energy management system to ensure enhanced efficiency and control.

The combination of LTC’s advanced battery system and Zytek’s innovative hybrid drive train, demonstrates a positive step forward in plug in hybrid technology that is simply applied to any OEM platform, as the system is scaleable and transportable.

—Steve Tremble, Zytek sales and marketing director



Fantastic!!! Get it into production! Pump some biodiesel into the tank and we're set.


Looks like someone's being creative with the figures here!

A 2.2 kWh onboard battery (say 2 kWh useable) would give an EV range of only 10 miles in a mid-size car, say 12 miles in a smaller vehicle.

To claim 20 miles EV range, and hence 10 miles per kWh is stretching credibility somewhat! (but great if true)

But otherwise brilliant progress showing the mainstream manufacturers what can be done. Zytek are a great company, their electric Elise was the precursor of the Tesla roadster (which is little different from the original Zytek Elise, other than the switch from NiCd to LiIon batteries).

Reality Czech

City range is determined largely by rolling resistance, which is proportional to weight.  The Smarts are very small, light vehicles; 100 Wh/mi does not appear unrealistic.


Certainly a step in the right direction. Another step would be the elimation of a mechanical transmission. Beyond that, would be the smallest turbocharged diesel doing nothing except recharging at a constant speed, as needed.

We will get there sooner or later.

Ron Fischer

Will they be built? Answer: are they profitable? How large a premium would you be willing to pay for this? Especially when presented with the vast array of available conventional cars. How can you 're-engineer the marketplace' to make these profitable?


Reality Czech, the converted vehicle is a Smart ForFour CDi (1085 kg), not the smaller ForTwo (720 kg).


This is precisely the car that I want. I mean, even down to the way it looks, which isn't too important to me. I would snatch one up in a heartbeat.

Even with 10 mile EV only range, that gives me about a week's worth of driving, since I can walk to work.

However, I'd miss the parking convenience and maneuverability of my scooter, and wouldn't get very much better mileage. But it would be a little warmer when it's 24F/-4C in the mornings!


I can certainly believe that this car can go 20 miles based on my experience with BEVs. The other great news is that by making the car so light, you can reduce the size of the battery to a point where it does not add much to the total cost (probably only $1500 at most). At 20 miles electric range my biggest problem would be having to take it on a trip over 20 miles just to keep the ICE from freezing up with non-use.

Harvey D.

I've heard of 108W/Km in a small very light French EV but not 100W/Mile in a 1085 Kg car. The electric range seems to be exagerated by about 100%.

A lighter car may do much better.

That being said, the idea is great, specially if cost can be kept down between 15K to 20K.

Electric range could always be increased with future higher performance battery packs.


With only 33hp (elec), I can't imagine it'll hit motorway speeds either.

Which is why they reckon it'll get 100 Wh/mile. It probably only goes 40mph on elec only.


The listed range for EVs is often based on its most economical speed. I'm guessing the electric only mode would only be for neighborhood driving. Still handy for most trips with the engine for faster and longer trips.


I'd buy one.
This is exactly what I am still waiting for.
I keep expecting it from Toyota, but I really don't care who makes it. 10 mile EV will cover 90% of my driving. Yet still useable for a 100 mile trip to the cabin, preferable using Biodiesel!

Rafael Seidl

Unfortunately, DCX had to discontinue the smart forfour a few months ago because of lacklustre sales of the straight ICE versions. I wonder if those willing to pay the no doubt hefty premium for a PHEV drivetrain could get it back into production. After all, in a PHEV
low weight is even more valuable than in the base version.

The comments to this entry are closed.