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As I was contemplating this series, I had visions of street rods and customs dancing in my head… and I keep having these thoughts about big diesel powered trucks…  RVs, tractor-trailers and delivery trucks…

I know why.  I keep thinking about them because they could benefit dramatically from hybrid power… and operators would be VERY unlikely to dive on the options.  There might be a few companies (UPS is dabbling with compressed air drive and some other things on their delivery ‘Package Cars’) that would give them a try, but the markets are largely made up of smaller firms and owner-operators.

Electric motors
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At the same time, adding even $20k or $30k to a $200k vehicle… and adding a couple thousand pounds to a rig that already tips the scale at 20,000 pounds… empty… isn’t tragic either.  But, on the other side of the scale, getting an extra 3 mpg out of something that is south of 10mpg would be HUGE.

So…

Here is my thought.  Ever see those 4wd utility trucks?  Many of the power companies use them to reach more remote sections of power-line or other infrastructure.  I love them… they are big, noisy and built with a purpose.  Here is my thought…

  • Powered by a diesel engine (or bio-diesel) running a generator
  • High powered electric ‘wheel-motor’ at each wheel
  • Regenerative braking as well as advanced computer controls to maximize efficiency
  • Solar cells on the roof… recharging the batteries and heating or cooling the cab while the engine is off

For off-road applications, electric wheel motors would rock.  They have MASSIVE torque from an almost dead stop.  Since each wheel would have one, the power could be moved to ANY individual or group of wheels.  The computer could provide traction control and anti-lock braking without additional equipment…  and the electric motors would be a more efficient way to transmit the power from the engine to the wheels.

Another little benefit is that it would be reasonably easy to add a powered trailer…  Equip trailers with similar wheel motors and then just plug them in…

I must say that for recreational 4wheeling, I prefer gas power and the traditional axle arrangement… having the flexibility to send a specific amount of power to a specific wheel would reduce the challenge and skill involved.  But, people trying to get a job done need to make the transportation portion as easy as possible in order to get to the real business…

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