Tony O'Kane | Jul 7, 2009

WANT A HYBRID but can't stand the shape of the Prius? Do the Civic and Camry hybrid not tickle your fancy either? You might just be interested in what Dr Charles Perry has invented.

Perry, a former IBM engineer, recently won first prize in a green energy competition run by the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation for his retrofittable hybrid conversion kit. The kit takes the form of two (or more) in-wheel electric motors, which are mounted onto the hubs of a regular petrol-powered vehicle and hooked up to boot-mounted batteries.

Perry claims that the kit can reduce fuel bills by as much as fifty percent, potentially more if used in EV-only mode. It's still some distance away from becoming commercially available, but Perry intends to use his US$50,000 prize money (plus a further US$50,000 from Palmer Labs, who will commercialise the product) to further refine his concept and commence real-world testing.

Estimated time of arrival? Don't bank on seeing it on the shelves of your local auto parts store until at least three years from now.

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