Inventor Drives for United Way


Jay Perdue demonstrates his Tri-Hybrid Stealth in a send-off press conference held by the United Way of the Greater Clarksville Region. Perdue will be using the vehicle to collect donations for 26 United Way agencies across the country.

August 12, 2010 

Tri-Hybrid Stealth is a bit of a contradiction in terms since the homemade, high-mileage vehicle will be used to raise green awareness and promote the United Way.

The odd-looking, three-wheeled machine is intended to draw attention primarily to the dependence on foreign oil and American’s resistance to change.

“This country’s dependence on foreign oil has got to stop,” local inventor Jay Perdue said Wednesday at the offices of the United Way of the Greater Clarksville Region, where he kicked off his coming cross-country trek. “Two-thirds of the U.S. trade deficit is in foreign oil.”

On Aug. 15, Perdue, who owns Perdue Acoustics in Erin, will participate in the cross-country Rally Green race for amateur-built vehicles designed to achieve more than 50 miles per gallon. He plans to include a return trip that ends in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13.

“Stealth” refers to the three-wheeled vehicle’s flat-panel shape, which resembles the stealth bomber, Perdue said. “Tri-Hybrid” denotes that it is powered by pedal, electric motor and diesel engine.

Along his trip, Perdue will collect donations for 26 United Way agencies in a “pass it forward” fashion. He’ll pass around a large plastic jug at stops for contributions from bystanders, then give the contents to the next United Way he visits.

“His wife Vicki is one of our board members,” said Beckie Moore, executive director of the local United Way. “She encouraged him to look at United Way and put a plan in place of how to help.”

Jay Perdue said the Tri-Hybrid Stealth also reflects the three pillars of the United Way — education, finance and health.

He said students from elementary age to college ”have climbed all over” the vehicle, asking questions and learning about the technology, aerodynamics and energy-efficient concepts.

“The U.S. has 4 percent of the earth’s population, but we consume 25 percent of the earth’s resources,”he said, adding that America is a “me, my, mine society” that needs to downsize. “We need to change that mindset. We need to change attitudes about fuel-efficient cars.”

By reducing fuel consumption, people save money, which goes to the United Way’s finance leg.

Wes Nolen, who is helping with promotions, said today’s cars average 22.5 mpg. Increasing the  
mileage to 60 mpg could save a car owner $1,100 per year.

“If you invested that money in the stock market each year starting as a teenager, you could retire a millionaire,” he said.

Part of the Tri-Hybrid’s propulsion is supplied by human power, which improves the drivers’ health.

A pedal mechanism at the front turns a modified alternator, which keeps 14 lawn-tractor batteries charged. In turn, the batteries power an electric motor that can propel the 875-pound vehicle from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds.

When the car reaches 20 mph, a highly fuel efficient diesel engine, fed by only a one-gallon tank, takes over to bring it up to highway speed. The maximum is currently 80 mph, but Perdue believes he can reach 100.

He has achieved 320 mpg in a smaller, single-seat version, but he projects 160 mpg for the two-seater that will head out to Knoxville, Iowa, soon.

After participating in a parade for that town’s famous sprint car race, Perdue will be one of three competitors in the Rally Green, a six-day race to San Francisco. Next, he will travel to Los Angeles, where he hopes for appearances on television programs.

The 3,000-mile return trip will cross the Mojave Desert a second time and pass through Clarksville around Labor Day weekend before continuing to Washington.

Perdue is not looking for a major car manufacturer to pick up his idea for mass production, but rather would like to see the average handyman build his own with available motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle components.

“Somebody with limited tools and limited knowledge can build one for $6,000 to $7,000 in about a month,” he said. “It has a metal frame and flat panels. You just cut everything to shape and screw it together.”

Following his trip, Perdue said, he will be working with the Tennessee Technology Center in Dickson to design plans for building the vehicle.

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  1. [...] on the road with Rally Green. The Leaf Chronicle did a nice piece on the United Way event. To read, click here. Below is a posted video of us in Iowa with the other Rally Green vehicles. We’ll continue to [...]

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