Retrofit Gas-Hybrid Powertrains for Aging BEVs

Older BEVs can be saved from the scrap yard by retrofitting lightweight ICE-assisted powertrains, German-Austrian company claims.

Paul Myles, European Editor

April 19, 2024

2 Min Read
Obrist Hyper-Hybrid
Obrist test mule proof of concept for its HyperHybrid powertrain

Of course, it had to happen: retrofitted internal-combustion-engine powertrains for end-of-life battery-electric vehicles – genius!

The German-Austrian Obrist Group is offering the solution to automotive clients to cope with the growing stockpile of BEVs whose battery packs are beyond sufficient first-life operation, leaving dealers struggling to sell them. These vehicles invariably started life as expensive premium products whose wealth of technology and top-drawer components face the scrap yard all because the battery pack can no longer provide the range it had when new some 10 or so years before.

Now Obrist offers a lifeline by, while not a purely ICE refitting (a small-block V-8 would have been my choice), installing its “HyperHybrid” powertrain, not unlike the General Motors unit used in the old Volt/Ampere models or the new Nissan e-Power systems that use a small gasoline ICE as a generator for the vehicle’s electric motors.

The company claims it has already converted several BEVs, for example from Tesla, to test the functional principle in real-world driving. Eliminating the large and heavy battery packs brings advantages such as improved power-to-weight ratio and better dynamic driving characteristics while benefiting from the BEV’s improved aerodynamics.

Obrist claims the diminutive battery installed in the HyperHybrid is still sufficient for an electric range of up to 56 miles (90 km), enough for 90% of most consumers’ everyday journeys. For longer ranges, the compact combustion engine kicks in, recharging the battery with no connection to the drive axles.

As a result, fuel consumption claims are for 157 mpg (1.5 L/100 km) and the vehicle’s total range is estimated at more than 620 miles (998 km). Obrist says its powertrain can be fueled with either gasoline or carbon-neutral e-fuels.

Obrist says its system is already an award winner, with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) describing the concept as the "Most Promising Solution Award Winner in Energy Efficiency" category.

Group founder and system inventor Frank Obrist says: “The HyperHybrid is ready for series production. Drive electrically, refuel conventionally, protect the environment and the climate. From a holistic perspective, the HyperHybrid performs very well, especially because the electricity mix used to charge electric cars generally comes from renewable energy sources at best partially and at worst not at all. The HyperHybrid runs on synthetic fuels that are produced using renewable energies such as solar power and hydrogen.”

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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