Thursday, September 13, 2012

[69] 'This Could Be Big' drives bigger interest in MTSU Hybrid

For release:  Date, 2012

News and Media Relations contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-5616 or
Second contact: Name Name, 615-xxx-xxxx or

MURFREESBORO — This could be big — and, overnight, it has become huge for MTSU engineering technology professor Dr. Charles Perry.


Television journalist Bill Weir and the ABC News/Yahoo! “This Could Be Big” online collaboration has rocketed Perry’s plug-in hybrid retrofit kit motor project into another orbit of interest.


The “This Could Be Big” posting Sept. 6 on the site ( has generated more than 1,260 comments (and counting) from online viewers.


Perry and a student-centered five-member team saw gas mileage increase anywhere from 50 to 100 percent on a 1994 Honda station wagon that has been retrofitted with laboratory prototype plug-in hybrid capability.


As a research vehicle, the Honda has been fitted with electric motors in each rear wheel and a large lithium ion battery, which is mounted in the rear of the vehicle. As lithium battery technology improves, the battery size will be reduced in production models, said Perry, who hopes it will cost $3,000 when it’s eventually mass produced.


“This is just amazing,” Perry said of the buzz created by the Yahoo! video and mid-July news release through Newswise, a source to reach U.S. and foreign journalists . “Everybody loves the idea. Everybody wants it.”


To view Perry explaining the wheel-hub motor process, visit, which has had more than 90,000 YouTube hits.


Emails have been pouring in from around the world.


“I don’t know how many I’ve had,” Perry said. “(They’ve come from) India, Sri Lanka, Syria and all over the country.”


Perry also has been busy on the phone.


The Yahoo! video generated a phone call from Cheryl Hanson of Prior Lake, Minn., 25 miles south of Minneapolis. She called on behalf of her husband, Mark, who has been a mechanic for 30 years.


“The economy’s been such that we’re building our own business now,” Cheryl Hanson said “You guys are doing great things. We saw the video and are super excited. It seems like a good fit and skill set for what we’re wanting to do.”


Perry, who serves as the Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence, was interviewed by Weir on Tuesday via Skype in the Telecommunications Building. Weir is co-anchor of ABC’s “Nightline.”


A July 23 MTSU story submission to Newswise has generated 1,562 hits to date.


“I just don’t know where this is going to go,” said Perry, who has been working with Lou Svendsen, Tennessee Board of Regents university counsel, in approaching companies that have both U.S. and worldwide fleets of vehicles, especially those “interested in green technology, reducing the carbon footprint and savings in fuel costs.”


Perry had 40 patents in a 28-year career with IBM before coming to MTSU. He and his student-centered team have landed two U.S. patents for this project and awaiting final approval on two more.




Attached are a high-resolution jpeg photo of Dr. Charles Perry and a photo of graduate student Jay Perry with the wheel-hub motor plug-in hybrid retrofit kit. (Charles and Jay Perry and not related.)


Charles Perry.jpg photo caption


Charles Perry


Jay Perry.jpg photo caption



MTSU graduate student Jay Perry is shown with the plug-in hybrid retrofit kit. The 1994 Honda has been fitted with electric motors in each rear wheel and a large lithium ion battery, which is mounted in the rear of the vehicle (Photo by MTSU’s Andy Heidt)


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