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DIDIK LONG RANGER: The Didik Long Ranger is a hybrid gasoline/electric powered vehicle created from a modified CitiCar/Commutacar of the 1970's updated and capable of carrying 3 adults at speeds of up to 53 miles per hour, though the average comfortable speed was just under 40 miles per hour. Several key plastic panels were replaced with thin structural aluminum, in order to reduce the weight as well as to strengthen the vehicle. Certain other structural as well as electrical changes were made.
At one point, solar panels were installed to assist in charging the batteries and with the hope of increasing the effective range. The solar panels proved ineffective since the amount of surface area on the vehicle was simply not large enough to provide for any meaningful increase in range. It would take all week long, in bright sunlight, to fully charge the batteries. The solar panels added about 100lbs to the overall weight of the vehicle and had an efficiency of about 7%. As most solar panels, the efficiency went down over time and had an estimated effective life of 10 years. Modern, generally available solar panels have an efficiency of about 11%. Some have claims of efficiencies of 25%. In these cases, the solar panel usually has a fresnel lens system in front of the solar panel which focuses sunlight onto the solar cells, thus the weight and size is increased, but the in fact, the energy per area of the unit, is more or less the same. There are special space agency type solar cells which do indeed have higher efficiencies, but the cost is prohibitive and the operating life is not known.
The Didik Long Ranger had a range of up to 70 miles per charge or 100 miles per day. This was achieved using the charged batteries, as the main source of energy and augmented by a small gasoline powered generator, that would only be turned on when most efficient to do so. The gasoline-battery combination, was not powerful enough to propel the vehicle, if the batteries were completely drained. The vehicle would have to be charged for about 30 minutes to reach a certain threshold. The vehicle was 8 feet (96") long, 5.5 feet (54") wide, 4.8' high and weighed approximately 2100 lbs. The Didik Long Ranger can comfortably accommodate 3 people, is relatively reliable and easy to maintain and has good "sports car" handling owing to its particularly low center of gravity, primarily due to its substantial battery weight, though the steering geometry itself was lacking in many of the technological advancements of today. -Frank X. Didik, Updated February 2012.
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