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A new cost-effective method to convert internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles into hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) has been developed by a student from RMIT University.

Dubbed the Rapid Electric Vehicle Retrofit or REVR, this innovation addresses both environmental concerns and the financial barriers associated with adopting electric vehicles (EVs).

The inspiration for REVR stems from a personal commitment to combat climate change. Recognising that ICE vehicles contribute over 20% of global emissions, designer Alexander Burton aimed to bridge the gap between the environmental benefits of electric vehicles and the financial constraints hindering widespread adoption.

“I wanted to contribute to the solution without breaking the bank. Electric vehicles are often expensive, and manufacturing them has its own emissions impact. Retrofits offer a way to retain the carbon invested in existing vehicles, eliminating the need for a new carbon debt,” he explained.

Seamless Integration

REVR stands out due to its innovative axial flux motor, a flat outrunner motor with a large inner cavity that can be installed directly between a vehicle’s wheel and disc brake. This design allows for a seamless integration that maintains the functionality of the original axle, hydraulic braking, and ICE systems.

The retrofit kit includes air conditioning, heating, steering, and braking boosters, controllers, and batteries, providing an all-in-one solution for ICE-to-HEV conversions.

Affordability and Accessibility

Unlike existing retrofit services that can cost upwards of $50,000 and take weeks to complete, REVR could cost as little as $5,000 without rebates and can be installed in under a day. This opens the door for a wider range of vehicle owners to contribute to a sustainable future.

“The key design constraint was size and cost-to-build. I wanted to utilise as many OEM parts as possible and limit CNC machining to keep the retrofit accessible and cost-effective,” Burton emphasised.

As the testing phase of the V1 prototype advances, Burton envisions a future where REVR becomes an EV conversion toolkit applicable to any ICE vehicle with minimal specialist knowledge required. Plans for a higher amperage controller and the design of a V2 prototype are already underway.

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