Dr. Charles Perry spent 28 years as an inventor for IBM in New York.
Now a chairman at MTSU, Dr. Perry has turned his attention to automobiles and says he is about one month away from putting a hybrid conversion electric car on the road.
Perry says the hybrid conversion technology is aimed at allowing everyday Americans to modify their gasoline vehicles without making major mechanical changes. He says the target cost for the system, once it gets into production, is $3,000 to $5,000.
“This is something that’s only a little more complicated than a brake job,” said Perry to members of McMinnville’s Noon Rotary Club on Thursday. “It allows you to plug in and take electricity from the grid and it can fit in the trunk of your car. The target is to reduce energy costs by 40 percent a mile.”
Perry says the electric engine works in conjunction with your car’s gasoline engine up to speeds of 45 mph. Once a driver exceeds 45 mph, the electric engine automatically shuts off.
Perry says the electric engine has a range of about 50 miles per charge and that fits the driving patterns of most Americans. Where the hybrid technology would not apply is interstate driving with high speeds and long distances.
“Figures show 80 percent of drivers on any given day drive 40 miles or less and drive 45 mph or less,” said Perry. “People say, ‘What if I want to take a trip to Knoxville?’ Well that’s fine to take that trip, but this doesn’t apply to that.”
Perry says his plan is to have the first hybrid conversion electric car tooling around Murfreesboro in August. He says he is looking to the state for an estimated $500,000 to $1 million in funding to get 20 manufactured prototypes on the road in about a year.
“The governor has said he has set aside money for this type of thing so we’re going to ask him with the idea this will create jobs,” said Perry.
Perry says the technology will give most people a chance to experiment with driving a hybrid vehicle without making an enormous investment. They can keep their current vehicle and have this system installed in the trunk and inside the wheelbase of their rear wheels.
A big part of bringing down the price depends on the cost of lithium ion phosphate batteries, which are currently being purchased from China. Perry says if lithium battery technology comes down in price the way cellphone technology has, his system should become extremely affordable.