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The Birth of After-Market Consumer Electric Drive

Jul 11, 2012
Davel Foote

With the idea of an after-market electrical drive unit that can be added to the front-wheel drive vehicle you are driving today it would create a cost-effective solution of gasoline versus electric drive

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It was the summer of 2007 and gasoline prices were steadily creeping up nationwide. When those prices hit the $4.00 per gallon mark in the foothill communities north of Sacramento, California, disable veteran Joseph Vargas knew he had to find another way to stretch his VA benefits. He had already traded in his V-8 gasoline engine vehicle for a more economical PT Cruiser with a 4 cylinder engine. Even with going from 15 mpg to 25 mpg, it still wasn’t enough to meet the daily costs of living.

The rising cost of gasoline was the immediate problem. Gasoline is an unusual product; it can’t be grown in a backyard garden or bought in bulk and safely stored in a suburban or urban environment. Even with using the cheapest of the 3 grades of gasoline available it was rough. Joseph believed electricity was the best alternative. There are a variety of ways to make electricity including solar, wind. He could have set up a bicycle in the backyard with a generator and get some exercise. However, if he needed to go any where, he had to buy gasoline.

Hybrids and electric cars were being developed for consumers, yet the cost was beyond most peoples’ means. As with most ‘new to the market’ products, there are kinks still to be worked out with the current technology by the automobile industry. The price paid for the PT Cruiser might make the down payment on a hybrid, but the payments went beyond his budget.

Driving down Hwy 395 in Reno, Nevada, Joseph realized his vehicle had an un-powered rear axle. The seed if inspiration took hold. If he could solve the challenge of attaching an electric motor to the under-utilized resource of the rear axle on his front-wheel drive vehicle, and to the wheel, this could work.

Up to that point he figured that electrical powered vehicles would take many years to become practical to the average consumer because of cost. But, with this idea of an after-market electrical drive unit that can be added to the front-wheel drive vehicle you are driving today, devising a way to use current technology and equipment in use today it would create a cost-effective solution of gasoline versus electric drive for himself and the estimate millions of front-wheel drive vehicles on the roads today.

After four years of development, trial and error, there are now two patents on this idea. The cost in most cases is $4 to $6 thousand dollars. Joseph estimated that if you drive 12,000 miles per year, this developed unit will pay for itself in less than three years.

There were four specific issues to solve in reaching the goal of creating a consumer and user friendly after-market electric drive unit.

The first issue was solved in using the non-powered rear axle.

The second issue was designing a complete electric drive axle unit to replace the standard non-powered rear axle for easy installation. This design allowed for the addition of plug-in rechargeable electric

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