There's no debate that batteries for electric cars remain absurdly expensive and one of the main hurdles to widespread EV acceptance. A team of electric vehicle converters at the ChargeCar project at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania is trying to solve the puzzle by using low-cost lead acid batteries coupled with a supercapacitor and four electric motors. The powerplant was installed in some sort of Scion model in order to prove that the team's goal – expressed by team leader Illah Nourbakhsh to "use the cheapest hardware possible by making the smartest possible management software" – can work in real life.
The real life implications of cheaper conversions like ChargeCar are important to the group. Nourbakhsh (pictured) says that getting energy back from regenerative braking will likely be much higher than people who rely on the U.S. Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule standard may expect. The UDDS suggest six percent of the energy could be recouped, Nourbakhsh thinks it's more like 40 percent. To get a better idea if he's right, ChargeCar is asking for people to submit GPS logs, anonymously, in order to see how cars on the road actually perform. The ChargeCar team will use this data to write better software for EVs to "prepare for hills, junctions or other features that will affect its energy use."

There's a video of Nourbakhsh talking about the project after the jump.

[Source: New Scientist]

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