The original goal of this project, when I launched it in 2006, was to convert my car into a parallel Hybrid Electric Vehicle, and later change it to a series HEV. I intended to fabricate electric wheel motors and insert them into the rear wheels, and make good use of the empty space at the bottom of my car’s chassis by filling it with batteries. I designed and simulated such brush-less wheel motors, but never got to build them for a number of reasons – both practical and philosophical. The single product of this first phase of the project is the Open Source code that I left in a public repository, which implements a motor design and simulation framework written first in LUA and then in Octave languages, integrated into FEMM. This is yours to use and expand, please play with it as you like, talk to me, and send patches. All the code is at the Resources page.
After a long and winding road, where I learned a lot about sustainable engineering and energy management (and I’m still learning!), I decided in 2009 to forget about my 100-year-obsolete car and go for the next step in evolution: the Human-Electric Hybrid. So thus was the DiffTrike project born. Now I’m building proof-of-concept prototypes at each step of the way and I hope to excite others into innovating by themselves. I wish we would all share our achievements with Open Source spirit; it does not prevent us from having a successful business model and it would bring about a huge revolution in the field of transport innovation… one we really need right now.
The automobile as we know it is an old fossil contraption with new clothing. It is obsolete and unacceptable in today’s energy, health, and economic panoramas. It should be retired immediately and replaced by a number of smarter alternatives — there is no single silver bullet to solve the problem of efficient and effective transportation, just like there is no single solution to the shortage and toxicity of today’s energy sources. We must continue to explore all the ideas we have, and test them in the real world, and measure their performance. Only with informed decisions will we survive these crisis. We cannot afford to continue to do “business as usual”, it will kill us all — slowly and painfully. Fortunately, there are already more EV companies out there doing brave new projects than the ones I can count. But that is not enough, because most of them are still trapped in the traditional model of a large and heavy car, built with unsustainable methods and materials.
A lot has to change. We should all get cracking on it.