Honda Civic
Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University will be unveiling an electric version of the 2002 Civic model. Reuters

Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University are all set to unveil an electric version of the 2002 Honda Civic as the production prototype of its ChargeCar Electric Vehicle Conversion Project.

ChargeCar is a community-centered project from the Robotics Institute at the University, where researchers are working with local garages to develop methods and components necessary for efficiently converting electric cars into vehicles that can be used for commuting.

The production prototype is a 2002 Civic EX four-door sedan, in which the conventional powertrain has been replaced with a 35-horsepower electric motor and 33 lithium-iron-phosphate batteries.

A release from CMU says that the average speed of the car in mixed urban/highway driving would be than 40 miles and it is capable of attaining top speed of more than 70 miles per hour.

The cost of conversion is not likely to be negligible, but each car would be customized, and hence the cost would vary according to the commute needs of the owner/driver of the car.

The project is also working to evolve more efficient ways of power management, by linking the batteries to an electric storage device; using various artificial intelligence methods, it would be possible to control whether electric charge is drawn from the batteries or stored in the supercapacitor, resulting in longer battery life and better performance of electric vehicles.

While the ChargeCar team is now only focused on 2001-2005 model year Honda Civics, newer makes and models are expected to be included later. At an open house organized on the 25th of March, attendees can sign up for conversion or purchase of a converted Honda vehicle, as well as inspect the vehicle up close, take a ride and address any queries to the project team.