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Concept: modular EV-hybrid features battery and engine swapping

A diagram of the powertrain components of the proposed hyMod. The front-wheel drive traction motor (blue) and in-floor 5 kWh battery pack (green) are always present. The car can change between a rear engine-pack (red) and a larger battery-pack (green) to enable hybrid or full EV operation. Click to enlarge.

A Romanian team—Dan Scarlat (automotive journalist), Marian Cilibeanu (designer) and Cristian Ionescu (engineer)—are proposing the SCI hyMod modular concept car. For clean daily operation, hyMod is exclusively a battery-electric car. For longer-range interurban travels, it can transform into a hybrid car with the assistance of a special change center (“hyMod STATION”).

A synchronous permanent magnet electric 42 kW motor with 200 N·m torque drives the front wheels of the vehicle. In the middle section, beneath the floor, is mounted a 5 kWh battery pack which can be used in both electric and hybrid modes. The rear features a modular structure designed to enable the transformation; the drive shafts and the intermittent mechanical couplings which are used in conventional engine mode are mounted in the area of the rear axle.

Rendering of a hyMod car. Click to enlarge.

Two modules are proposed: one that includes batteries, called “battery-pack” and the second one that includes an engine and transmission, called “engine-pack”. The modules are fastened to the car by means of two bars using special supports mounted on the chassis. To restrict longitudinal movement there are two hooks actuated by the extracting device.

The extractor device at the hyMod stations handles is endowed with sensors and the module has laser emitters. In that way, the alignment of the extraction bars with the corresponding supports on the module is made automatically, the device being capable to move in sides and up/down.

A critical element is the coupling of the mechanical transmission of the engine-pack—especially because the whole engine-transmission pack is fastened to the module frame by means of elastic bumpers. To make possible the coupling of the transmission, booth semi couplings (from the module and from the car) are fixed rigid to the module frame and respective to the car chassis.

This implies the usage of four planetary drive shafts, two between the differential and the intermittent couplings and two from intermittent coupling to the wheels. Because of the fact that engine and transmission movements on the elastic buffers are small, the planetary drive shafts between the differential and intermittent couplings can be short.

The battery-pack option includes a 17 kWh pack which enables a range of 140 km (87 miles); supplemented by the 5 kWh battery in the car, this brings total range to about 180 km (112 miles).

The engine-pack contains a combustion engine which produces 82 hp and is connected to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Full hybrid system output (front motor and rear engine) is 150 hp. Fuel consumption is less than 6 l/100 km (39 mpg US) and the range surpasses 600 km (373 miles).

The engine module also contains all the other related components, including the fuel tank, the cooling system and the radiator, except the battery, whose function is taken by the car’s battery.

The SCI hy:Mod team estimates the base price of the vehicles without modules (and without tax) to be €25,500 (US$32,848).



I like this approach. Similar to what some EV drivers are already doing when they hitch generator-trailers to their EVs, but with the potential for more efficient utilization of power from the ICE.

Another advantage (for both this and the trailer approach) is that you are less likely to be caught owning a petroleum-powered car when oil prices go through the roof. By then, there will likely be one or more alternatives that could be swapped in. Rather than having to sell a gasoline car into a market that doesn't want it and buy a whole new car, you could keep your car and just swap in whatever range extender happens to be the best power plant -- whether that be a better battery pack with a future fast-charging network, a CNG engine with a future refueling network, a fuel cell with a Hydrogen refueling network, or whatever.

I think they'll need to get the cost down under $20k, though. That's about the level I'd consider it worth considering, anyway. $33k is a lot to pay for what is essentially an EV with a 25 mile range. Figure the 17 kWh pack will add another $10k (whether purchased, leased, or rented, if you're using one for most of the life of the vehicle, you've got to pay for its cost one way or another). So you're looking at over $40k for a subcompact that still requires that you rent an engine for long trips. And make sure you reserve that engine well in advanced for the holiday weekend when demand for them peaks.

I'll be interested in seeing what comes of this. I wish them the best.


This is clever, but I don't see it going very far at that price.  The intrusion of the rear pack on cargo space is also a negative.

On the other hand, this is an answer to Better Place, and maybe someone with better mechanical engineering chops could make a module that goes into the front and leaves everything behind the firewall as people expect it to be.


This is more likely to succeed than a flying, nuclear powered car.
But not by much.

A well designed version of this idea (as oft proposed here) might be ideal for the "MPG fringe" and really not a bad concept, but unfortunately it would likely be even less successful than the Insight I; and for the same reasons; low mass appeal.

By the time you wanted to upgrade or rent the "ICE module" they would be out of business and you would have rent (or more likely BUILD) your own ICE trailer.

Just put PV panels on your roof and pretend it makes sense.


Why not swap cars, instead of engines.

When you buy (say) a Leaf, you get the right to N car swaps / year for 10 years. These would allow you to swap the EV for an ICE for the summer holiday, visit to uncle Bob etc.

As long as it was easy to do, and inexpensive (or free) it would save a lot of cost and R&D etc.

Alternately, governments could pass laws that make it easy to informally share cars, mainly by making the insurance easy to do.


It is already as easy to share cars as it is to share wives - why neither is widespread may or may not be for the same reasons.


wife sharing is not widespread? Mitt ROMNEY, IS THAT YOU?


@Toppa - a fine social question there ...

Why don't people share their cars more ?
Especially their second cars.

I suppose they feel very attached to their cars and don't like the idea of other people leaving their biscuits and sweet wrappers in them.

However, people are happy enough to rent cars from an unknown 3rd party.

So the EV companies should be able to arrange this, but using your insurance to keep costs down, possibly using their own ICE cars (i.e. Nissan Almera/Altima etc.)

They could allow you rent/swap/borrow a grade up, so you would be happy about it.

Swapping personal cars or group ownership could be promoted by the government (especially in countries that do not have native car industries), by forcing insurance companies to allow it.

You have to accept that EVs are not good for long runs at present, and if they want to sell them to people without other cars, they have to solve the long run problem, and if that means using another car every now and then, they should make it happen.


Great idea. EV in town, gas powered for trips. The monthly membership fee should be enough for upkeep and cleaning of sweet wrappers etc.


I do not see insurance as an issue.

Rental companies carry/provide/sell insurance to the renter or you can be an self insured/bonded renter.

Sharing cars seems unlikely outside a commune and renting an ICE whenever you want to go further than 100 or 200 miles would seem unlikely also.


There are already car sharing services you can join in every major metropolis ToppaTom.

I actually was thinking a lot about the Volt when I read this. The Volt has a range extender....why doesn't GM create a car with a modular range extender that can be rented out from the dealer ? (or leased) So you could get a Volt "fully loaded" with the extender in it....or you could get it pure ev....or you could get a second booster batt pack in it's place...all modular and interchangeable.

Hell if they ever come up with a fuel cell module...AD can explode in a cloud of euphoria and we'll all be happy too.

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