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A small startup company in Loveland, Colorado is working on what it hopes will be the keys to the Automotive X-Prize. Lightning Hybrids is building a pair of vehicles, one with three wheels and the other with four, that use a biodiesel-fueled hydraulic hybrid powertrain. Not a lot of details are available right now, but from what can be gleaned on the website, it appears to be a series hybrid system with a compact 90 hp two-stroke diesel engine paired with a hydraulic drive system. The site lists total power of 90 hp from the engine plus 150 hp from the hydraulics for a total of 240 hp. Depending on how the system is configured and how the creators are calculating the number, that may be inaccurate. If the diesel engine is driving a hydraulic pump, the total would not be additive since energy transformation is occurring.

The car itself also has some issues. Judging from the renderings, the designers have neglected to peruse Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for items such as headlight height, mirrors, or much else for that matter. The first prototype is currently under construction and the company hopes to have volume production going in 2010 with a three wheeled version selling for $39,000 and the four wheeler for 59,000. With items like a carbon fiber body, both of those will be a stretch.

[Source: Lightning Hybrids]


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  • 6 Comments
      • 4 Months Ago
      Wait, headlights have a MINIMUM height but not a MAXIMUM height? What the F***?

      I drive a sedan and those goddamn SUV headlights are always blinding me because they're mounted about as far off the ground as my car's ROOF (the worst is when I get an SUV/pickup tailgater). How about DROPPING the goddamn headlights so the rest of us can still f*****g SEE?
      • 4 Months Ago
      It is very nice to see that even big truck and automotive companies,boom trucks, crane trucks, etc,etc switching over to going Green. Everyone has to play there part and this is a great example of how to do it.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Does anyone out there know how this thing works?
      • 4 Months Ago
      Im interrested to buy. IM tire of waiting since more then 4 year ago for a lightweight sport car that move forward without too much cost for fuel and no complication for the drivetrain. This one have a perfect architecture and even if it don't use hydrogen it's not a problem. Diesel is available everywhere and at 100 mpg for that kind of power , it's really is something. Hydraulic drivetrain are very efficient and offer a nice and powerful tractable operation on the road with silent operation because it work easy contrary to ice diesel bolted to a conventionnal transmission thar offer sub-par operation like freightliner, mack truck, toyota diesel pick-ups, volks tdi. bmw tdi, etc. All these past diesels have been a hack of paying consumers with idiosynchrasies sold at millions of copy on the road and still polluting the air since 100 years. Im sure that today and tomorrow, compagnies will still build and put on the road diesel cars or truck , like jettas tdi, with conventionnal and undrivable transmissions.
      • 4 Months Ago
      This is fantastic!! Hydraulic systems store more energy per lb than electric, and you don't have chemical batteries to dispose of! Good luck to these folks.

      I have read a couple articles about hydraulic hybrids, though they usually involve trucks. The latest one I found was "Big Green Trucks" found here: http://economicefficiency.blogspot.com/2008/12/big-green-trucks.html

      I would love to see this hydraulic hybrid technology take off!
      • 4 Months Ago
      if this is a series hybrid, my understanding would be that the total output to the wheels would be the 150hp available from the hydraulic system. 90hp would just be the rate at which the engine would be able to replenish the accumulator. I guess they're the ones building it though, so maybe there's something I'm not seeing, maybe it's a series/parallel combination, allowing the engine to power the wheels directly when desired.