I finally had a chance to catch up with Jonathan Goodwin, the auto conversion phenom who likes to tinker with Hummers and Lincolns and make them behave downright green. His current project is converting the ultimate gas guzzler — 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV convertible — into potentially a 100 MPG hybrid.
“It’ll [run] a 120 miles just on pure [electric] power,” he said, adding that the car will contain two dozen lithium ion batteries operating at 426 volts. A small diesel will recharge the batteries power a large generator (I thought he said 75 kW…or about 65 times what I’d need to power my home) to provide the juice. He’ll also use regenerative braking to help keep the batteries charged.
In fact, the batteries will be so powerful, they can provide “Vehicle to Grid (VTG)” electricity to power buildings when the car is stationary, claims Goodwin. One wonders about the safety of such a power-laden vehicle. Expense, too. Goodwin says VTG technology was developed in the early 1990s from the development of electric cars.
The hybrid vehicle and political blogs are humming about this project and Young and Goodwin are producing a documentary about the project that’ll be released in the spring. One blog a scene will depict Young triumphantly driving the car to Detroit, his birthplace. Stay tuned. Goodwin has been on the national morning talks shows, on the cover of Fast Company magazine and yesterday was the subject of a CNN feature pegged to the one hour removal of the Continental’s stock gas-guzzling engine.
“If necessary, the little diesel in this thing – a two and half ton boat on wheels - could take welders and fire them right up,” says a gleeful Goodwin. Clearly, he is on a mission to disprove that it’ll take decades to produce meaningful alternative energy and high mileage vehicles. That he is doing it with the biggest gas guzzlers available helps drive home the point even more.
Goodwin and I also discussed how he doubles the mileage (and sometimes the horsepower) on H1 and H2 Hummers. I did a poor job of explaining it in my Nov. 19 column Dodge Report column. And several of you wrote me saying the H1 already has a diesel and indeed it does (the 6.5L diesel was replaced with a Duramax 6600 diesel in 2006.)
I will do a better of it in this blog post, but confess I still don’t completely understand the system (and I understand engine basics pretty well). Anyhow, Goodwin explained that he builds a separate Ethanol fuel along side the standard biodiesel fuel system. The Ethanol is superheated and vaporized before going into the engine through its air intake and in the process can “displace” (at least, in theory) up to 97% of the standard fuel, biodiesel. This doubles MPG. Given that Ethanol is about $2.19 in Witchita, Goodwin’s home base, the 100 or so Hummer owners who have paid handsomely for the conversions by his company, H-Line Conversions, can save a lot of money. That said, I never thought Hummers owners especially cared about saving money or going green. It must be a guilt thing.
“The stock H1 gets about 8 MPG. Mine gets about 20,” he said. One other issue he mentioned is that the stock electronic control unit is programmed to mix and biodiesel and air at a certain ratio. His conversions don’t change the ECUs values. Rather, he puts in something akin to another ECU to instruct the stock ECU what to do. His conversions use the standard GM Duramax diesels in the H1. The Duramax replaces the 6.2L gas V-8 in the H2. The hummer web site is light on technical information and it looks like the H1 is no longer offered, possibly replaced by the H3. I would never consider a Hummer so it’s nothing I’ve researched in depth.
For for a high school dropout, Goodwin is doing some very interesting things.