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Off road Prius

Ultra efficient modifiable lightweight off road vehicle
  [vote for,

Hybrids consume less gas. Hybrids are best on roads. Even GMC Sierra 4x4 hybrid comes with disclaimer that it's not ideal for off road.

So make a lightweight low powered production vehicle that can be modified to compete with Jeeps, Hummers, monster trucks, rock crawlers and sand rails. It can do what they do, but with a sophisticated buzz rather than a sooty growl. And because of the comfort it provides and its fuel economy, it will be able to travel into the wilderness farther.

The hybrid concept should be ideal on mountain roads, where there are lots of downhill opportunities for charging batteries quickly.

It will most likely have very large, but light tires (I'm thinking tractor size) and be raised up on its wheels high with a very long suspension. There is a wide range of options and trims as well as a lively market in aftermarket modifications to make the vehicle suit specific conditions.

For example, there is a version popular with bird watchers and hunters alike, that has a large open roof and extra quiet tires, that allows them to sneak up on wild life. Another version, made for deep mud and other soft soil, has very wide tires that allow the vehicle to drive without sinking in. And yet another version excels on boulders.

jmvw, Jun 02 2012


       I've mentioned on HB before that things like electric forklifts employ very high-torque electric motors, and I've long toyed with the idea of adapting one for an off-road vehicle. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be as lightweight as you envision; those types of motors are large, and they require batteries the size of a dishwasher. If you do a little reading, you'll find that it takes a lot of power to turn big off-road tires, and the dinky lightweight motor from a Prius wouldn't do it unless the gear reduction were so extreme that the vehicle would move barely faster than a crawl. Even then, the heavy-duty drivetrain components would add a bunch of weight in their own right. Good idea, but think it out a little bit more. Pick up an issue of '4x4 & Off-Road' magazine and look at how heavily the trucks and Jeeps are built, and read why they're built that way.   

       As for the notion of creeping up on animals when hunting, it gives me the impression that you haven't spent much time hunting--you have to be very, very quiet, and able to conceal yourself at the right moment, to stalk prey. No vehicle could do it, unless you were at a game farm or logging camp where the animals are accustomed to seeing vehicles, and that's cheating. In modern hunting, there's a tradition called 'fair chase'.
Alterother, Jun 02 2012

       Hunting is pretty much all about cheating. Unless you run after the animal and strangle it with your bare hands (Chuck Norris does this). Wimpy grub-like humans are able to kill faster and more alert species by cheating, or to put it differently, by using devices such as rifles and bow and arrows and steel wire traps, all developed not by the hunter, but by other humans.   

       It's not like the animals also have high powered rifles and sexy bait and all that, or, for most of them, as if they'd even have an interest in killing you. And if they did that interest and succeeded, it would probably result in all the other humans getting really upset and trying to exterminate that particular species. We didn't particularly like tigers walking around, for instance. Hunting without cheating, that would be something like trying to get a tiger with bare hands.   

       So guess, I'm not a hunter - I don't kill animals for a hobby. Not that I have an issue with hunting, as long if the meat is being used. I think hunting is a lot cooler than farming animals for meat.. hunted animals live real animal lives until they're killed. But anyway, I was thinking it would benefit the hunting man to be somewhat inconspicuous as he drives up to his hunting spot. No? Oh well, that's not what this idea is about anyway.   

       I don't think power would be an issue at all. Lighter vehicles need much less power. I'm a big fan of smaller engines. They are so much more efficient then larger engines. We do need torque, and it's OK to turn the engine a bit faster, and they could be made to do so durably. It's also ok to go a bit slow through the difficult sections. Most of the time a lot of power is not needed. For the moments where it is, electrical power will help.   

       There's a lot of 40-50 hp tractors out there too. Reduce the weight a lot, add gears, add a bunch of suspension, drop on a few buckets of refinement and some hybridness and off we go!
jmvw, Jun 02 2012

       // Hunting is pretty much all about cheating //   

       I don't wish to derail your idea, so I won't push this point any further after this anno, but you need to go hunting or at least go out into the woods and try to get within 50 yards of a deer before you're qualified to make a statement like that. Frankly, it's a little insulting.   

       There are ways of cheating, like flushing or spotlighting, but real hunters (i.e. ethical, humane, law-abiding) do not do that.   

       I hunt for meat and pelt, and I use high-velocity scoped rifles. I don't use bait, but I don't frown on those who do; that practice is thousands of years old. Just because technology has surpassed flint-headed arrows and wooden spears does not mean that hunting has gotten much easier. Many hunters sit in tree stands located in carefully selected spots; location alone is a skill in its own right. The way I hunt, by tracking an animal on the ground and trying to get within shooting distance, is even more challenging. I take great pains to eliminate my scent, I have learned to move silently, hide in plain sight, and consider my actions very carefully. I once spent over an hour moving less than 100 yards to get a shot. Another time, a bobcat, which is a notoriously elusive and secretive animal, walked past me while I was sitting on a stump about ten feet away.   

       Come hunting with me, or better yet, try to hunt me, and then tell me I'm "cheating."   

       There, I'm done with my off-topic rant. Responses are welcome, but I won't continue. Let's talk trucks.   

       So as for the hybrid-electric 4x4, it's a good idea, one I and probably many others are thinking about. You've said a lot about reducing weight, but not about how you plan to do so; electric motors and high-capacity batteries are heavy. Come up with a feature that hasn't occured to me and I'll drive over boulders and through bogs to deliver your bun.
Alterother, Jun 02 2012

       THANKFULLY the sort of person who'd buy this would leave it on the driveway for the neighbours to assume that they're the sort of person who'd use it.
Phrontistery, Jun 02 2012

       A true 4x4 does not want to be parked indoors. The garage is where you go when you're broken. When you are healthy, you sleep under the open sky, and welcome the elements.
Alterother, Jun 02 2012

       //Even GMC Sierra 4x4 hybrid comes with disclaimer that it's not ideal for off road.//   

       As do most SUVs. The number of 4x4s that are actually designed for off-road use is probably roughly equal to the number of them that are really used for it.
MechE, Jun 02 2012

       No, a lot of people take stock 4wd pickups and SUVs that have that disclaimer off-road. Some of them are skilled and/or careful drivers who navigate obstacles successfully, and others are complete idiots who, if they're very lucky, get winched out by people like me, who have lifted, custom-built rigs with much thought and care put into the modifications, allowing us to drive over rocks the size of a rhinoceros.   

       I'd say roughly 1/3 of the vehicles I see on the logging roads and trails are stock, and another 1/3 just have basic lifts and oversized tires. The guys who own those are even more annoying than the ones who don't know how to drive a stock 4x4, because they think they can tackle the really extreme terrain that heavily modded rigs like mine are made for. They get into some boulder field and slide sideways, their $30 lift block pops out from between the U-bolts and suddenly the axle is sliding back and forth under a now-useless leaf spring, the shock piston snaps and the anti-roll bar twists into a pretzel...   

       Sorry. Kind of got into a rant there.
Alterother, Jun 02 2012

       //Unless you run after the animal and strangle it with your bare hands (Chuck Norris does this)//   

       Actually, Chuck Norris just casually says "I'm thinking about going hunting this weekend" and all of the animals in the forest instantly drop dead from fright.
ytk, Jun 02 2012

       [Alter] I didn't say that the ones designed for it were the same ones that actually get taken off road, just that the numbers are roughly the same (in other words, a vanishingly small proportion for both).
MechE, Jun 03 2012

       My misunderstanding, then. Still, I got a pretty good rant out of it, so I suppose I should thank you.
Alterother, Jun 03 2012

       Having moved to the city just after leaving school, I was accustomed to some rather rural ideas about driving and vehicles. At the time I was 17 and was driving a diesel LandRover station wagon, which is a pretty serious off-road vehicle. It was a "spare" vehicle, so I was buying it from my family.   

       On one Saturday morning I pulled into a service station and was greeted by the cheery owner of the place, who asked me if I was going "four- wheel-driving". Thinking it a rather odd question, I said I wasn't. He then proceeded to tell me of the joys of taking to the bush and crossing creeks and getting bogged, "for fun".   

       I told him he had to be fucking kidding; that I could clearly recall the last time we had got stuck in the bush by a thunderstorm and taken 23 hours of digging, slow driving and walking flooded creek crossings, just to get home... and that was on a road.   

       If there's a road, use it. If there's not; make your way to the nearest road. Going off road unnecessarily is like voluntarily taking a cold shower in winter.
UnaBubba, Jun 04 2012

       'Unnecessarily' is a subjective term. Where I live, 4x4 vehicles are often a necessity, much like where you grew up, but there are also places I like to go for fun that are not accessible by road, and my Jeep makes the hike considerably shorter. There are others who participate in the well-established motorsports of dirt rally, off-road racing, rock-crawling, and mud-bogging (very popular in the northeastern US; the annual national championship is held not far from my home). Is recreation a necessity? If so, the machines required to engage in these chosen forms of recreation are necessary.   

       I agree with you, however, that going out and getting stuck on purpose is ludicrously stupid (see 'mud-bogging'). For me and others of similar mind, the point is to drive your rugged and capable machine with a fine hand and a keen eye, navigating extreme terrain _without_ getting stuck.
Alterother, Jun 04 2012

       // and my Jeep makes the hike considerably shorter//
Technically, it's no longer a hike if it involves motor transport.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jun 04 2012

       What I meant is that I can get closer to my goal with a vehicle that can handle the old skid-trails and dry streambeds that meander through the forest, thus turning what would be a twelve-hour hike into a two- or three- hour drive and a one-hour hike.
Alterother, Jun 04 2012

       Trucks tend to be heavy. There's a reason ATV's are so popular.   

       The Off Road Prius would compare to a super customized Jeep somewhat like a late model BMW motorcycle compares to a West Coast chopper.
jmvw, Jun 04 2012

       Would you care to explain that comparison a bit?
Alterother, Jun 04 2012

       I'd back my 1942 Willys Jeep against most modern 4WD units, in most conditions. Light weight and loads of torque are preferable to the big, lumbering off road shitboxes I see passing our place every weekend.
UnaBubba, Jun 04 2012

       Hell, I'd put your Willys at 1:1 against my modded-to-the- moon XJ. Ain't nothing like the real thing.   

       As a fellow Jeeper of mine once said, the bigger they are, the harder they crawl.   

       On the other hand, I also drive an M35, which doesn't so much crawl over extreme terrain as it does just ignore it altogether...
Alterother, Jun 05 2012

       The old Jeep is fun. I've brought it up to show condition, so we can use it during ANZAC Day parades and such.   

       However, I don't go bush-bashing much, as it just doesn't appeal. It's hard on vehicles and I really don't enjoy digging myself out of mud and sand.
UnaBubba, Jun 05 2012

       [UB] I'm coming to Brissy in 2 weeks. If you can get the Willys parade-ready you can meet me at the airport. If not, I guess it is Black & White Cabs who get the glory again.
AusCan531, Jun 05 2012

       I can catch up with you. What's the occasion?   

       My dad has the Jeep at the moment. He used it in the Townsville ANZAC Day parade. They had some celebrations for the Coral Sea Battle anniversary.
UnaBubba, Jun 05 2012

       Omg lol
jmvw, Jun 05 2012

       Something funny, [jmvw]?
UnaBubba, Jun 05 2012

       And now the Rivian is getting closer to production.   

       Fossil fuel powered vehicles are slowly getting to point of only existing because they are very cheap.   

       As a cyclist and motorcyclist it baffles me how much weight and power people think they need just to move their persons about.   

       Legs, bicycles, e-bikes and electric motorcycles are the efficient ways to move. All exist both in on and offroad form.
jmvw, Jul 03 2019


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