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SSM Kernel Electric Crossover Vehicle
With an engineering goal of delivering the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon of gasoline, plus 30-miles of electric driving range, the Kernel could someday be priced in the mid-$20,000 range. This computer rendering was developed by team members in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

X Prize Team: Kernel Crossover

Volunteers from LA to Rotterdam are hoping to Open Design the future of green automotive technology.

By EV World

What was that old saw about a camel being a horse designed by committee?

The seven-passenger Kernel Crossover vehicle seems to defy that axiom. Designed and engineered by volunteers around the globe as part of the Open Source Green Vehicle project, this range-extended electric vehicle may well establish the precedence of how cars and trucks are designed and built in the 21 Century.

EV World spoke with David Lee, the youthful chairman of the Society for Sustainable Mobility and the managing partner for Rugged Electric about the group's design and engineering efforts.

SSM is a 501C3 non-profit corporation with centers for development in Los Angeles where the electric drive system is being engineered and Rotterdam and Hong Kong where the chassis is being designed on computers, very much in the fashion of what GM is doing with its Volt program. The the above illustration features one of those computer renderings.

According to Lee some 150 volunteers, who slide into and out of the program, donate their talent as time and interest permits. The Society web site claims that 130 engineers have participated in the effort so far, bringing with them expertise in aerospace and automotive fields, including American muscle cars and solar cars. Total time invested to date is estimated between 10,000-15,000 hours. The 'Open Design' that emerges will be licensed to manufacturers, with the Society retaining the rights to the data.

Lee hopes to have the chassis design done by mid-2008. The target weight of the seven-passenger Crossover is 1,500kg (3,300 pounds), which is seen as achievable using a combination of aluminum frame and composite body panels that include extensive use of dent and rust-resistant polyurethane and polycarbonate materials. Its 'Plug-and-Play', range-extended drive system is intended to deliver the equivalent to 100 mpg ( 2.3 L/100 km ).

Using a similar approach to GM's E-Flex architecture, the drive is module, supporting different types of range-extending generator sets including gasoline engines, diesels, compressed natural gas/propane and hydrogen fuel cells.

The target electric-only driving range is 30 miles and combines ultracaps and lithium ion batteries, the latter mounted in a central tunnel -- again like the Volt. The ultracapacitors, which are used to provide acceleration and kinetic energy recovery, are mounted laterally behind the battery tunnel. SSM estimates the car will have performance similar to the Porsche Cayenne with 0-to-60 acceleration in 9 seconds. Sustained electric speed is 100 km/hr (62 mph). Gasoline fuel efficiency is estimated at 88 mpg, while the diesel version would deliver in the mid-90 mpg. The goal of the chassis design team is a coefficient of drag of under 0.32.

The team is one of the early competitors in the newly renamed Progressive Insurance X Prize with its $10 million prize.

SSM Kernel Electric Crossover vehicle presented at 2007 AltCar Expo
David Lee (left) with Ron Johnson-Rodriquez at 2007 AltCar Expo in Santa Monica, where EV World was introduced to the Open Source Green Vehicle project.

SSM's plan is to work with sub-contractors to develop the components for the vehicle which would be assembled by another manufacturing entity. SSM would receive royal payments that would be used to fund ongoing R&D, as well as non-profit activities of the project.

Lee sees the value of the Kernel project as taking out much of the risk of the program for established manufacturers. This a "from-the-ground-up" design that uses the Toyota Highlander Hybrid as its platform starting point. The price range is envisioned at between $20-25,000 for the basic vehicle. Funding at present comes from charitable donations.

There is a great deal more information about SSM's Kernel Crossover on their web site at OSGV.Org.

Times Article Viewed: 11170
Published: 09-Apr-2008

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