Although there are loss points in the system, I do believe this is a great system for modern vehicles, to gain many of the advantages of an EV, without the range/charge issues currently plaguing that technology. I see this as particularly attractive to electrify work trucks, as it means your truck would literally have a generator on board. Given the efficiency and power density of modern generators, along with the advances in electric motors, I think the system losses would be relatively minor and the generator would operate at near max fuel efficiency in normal driving. Add in a small battery pack, and you could have it operate for short distances/low speeds as a pure EV as well. Say an all electric operation below 50mph with a range of 20-30 miles would offer efficient around town driving, and then normal highway driving would be the hybrid system.
The most successful and commonly used "hybrid" if you will is a modern locomotive. If that technology were to be scaled down to automobile and pickup truck size, a manufacturer probably couldn't build them fast enough. A small turbo diesel and a fifteen gallon fuel tank would make for outstanding range.
Trains run on steel rails and don't do a lot of stopping and starting. They can take their sweet old time getting up to speed and slowing down again, which is why their 900 RPM redline motors can hum along in their efficiency comfort zones and maintain one of the lowest cost per ton*mile rates in the transportation industry. Not really a good analogy
Wonderful story, wonderful car, Jay. Yes; I'm one of the few who knows about the Owen Magnetic and Mr Entz, but I'm not just the Hagerty Carcierge, I'm also an automotive historian. I also had a Chevy Volt and enjoyed it a lot. I've a Chevy Bolt now, pure electric, long range 259 miles (in between the two, I had a Nissan Leaf which had 84 mile range). The Bolt I bought new, the others used (they had the resale value graph which looked about like a lead balloon flying).
Back about '79 or '80, I saw an ad for a hybrid conversion deal for Opel GTs (and I had one). The motor was a 48 volt military surplus jet engine starter motor. The gas engine was a Briggs & Stratton 5hp. There were four deep cycle batteries hooked in series and a standard automotive generator to charge them. The wrinkle was that using a straight rheostat as the go-pedal would cause a voltage surge that would fry your motor, so the guy sold plans for a surge suppressor. At the time, I was more interested in swapping the Opel engine out for a Ford 289, but I've frequently regretted not buying those plans. In the end, it didn't matter. My ex got the car and totalled it about the time the divorce was final.
I would take issue with the Owen Magnetic being a "Hybrid". Like a Diesel Electric Locomotive it's prime mover is an internal combustion engine that utilizes the generator and electric motor to function as the transition. It would be better classified as a "Gas Electric".
Hybrids are a good compromise. You are not limited by one source of power, but able to leverage two sources to overcome range issues. And many also note that both can be used for a boost in power if needed. It’s kind of sad some are so set on pushing EV as the ‘only’ option. Just the investment in charging stations is a huge cost. Jay Leno’s car is interesting, especially compared to hybrids of today.
One of the best true hybrids is the Woods Dual Power. The car used its electric power up to 15 MPH. Then its internal combustion engine kicked in and ran it up to 35 MPH or so. They were certainly onto something around 1915. You can see one of the survivors at The Henry Ford. I bet when Ford was collecting cars for his museum, this one would have really intrigued him.
The hybrids that everyone has forgotten: back when the arab oil boycott hit America there was a brief flirtation with dual fuel gasoline/propane engines. If memory serves it was a pretty simple system that just required a special carburetor and a propane tank. With a switch on the dash you could switch back and forth between running on gasoline or propane. The idea lost its appeal when the cost of propane rose to equal that of gas.
Dual fuel (gas/LPG) were still all the rage in engineering circles when I was studying Mechanical Engineering back in the mid-90s. My college's SAE chapter built one from scratch using a Plymouth Voyager donor.
Our family's Chevy Volt was and is the perfect hybrid. 60 miles on a charge is perfect for local commuting and the on board generator gives it unlimited range at 42 mpg. We plug in at home and in the office car park. Overall average MpG is 800 mpg . GM failed market and position it well against Prius and any other economy minded offering.
I have always thought a battery-assisted hybrid with regenerative brakes in an otherwise fairly efficient package would probably do more for the carbon situation than EVs ever will. Most folks don't realize that it takes the same relative amount of energy to push your car along whether it is being produced locally under the hood or being tapped off the grid, and close to half of what a power plant generates is lost in transmission losses.
I've considered building a hybrid similar to this. It would actually be an electric conversion, but with a small efficient generator to extend the range of the battery pack. Ideally the generator would be sized to run the electric motor at average level ground cruise speed without using any battery power, just using the battery pack for accelerating and pulling hills. Technically it would be running off the battery pack all the time, but the generator would be replenishing all the time also. So you could get 100 mpg easy enough with a 60 mile range battery pack (60 miles without generator running), and extend the range to 90+ miles, depending on how much cruising you did vs. in-town driving. A 100 mile battery pack would be more like it, but you get the drift.