• Dec 4th 2009 at 7:25PM
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Capstone Turbine CMT-380 - click above for high-res image gallery

The CMT-380 was the surprise basement find of the LA Auto Show. After working on the car for four years, inventor Richard Hilleman was the man of the hour as he fielded questions about his unusual microturbine-lithium-ion hybrid powertrain fitted to a GTM Supercar kit body.

Hilleman has owned an electric vehicle – a converted Porsche 550 Spyder – for at 15 years and has constantly upgraded it. The EV used to have just 30 hp with lead acids but now uses lithium ferrous batteries and has 200 hp. The 100-mile range hasn't changed, though, and so he knew it was time to build a hybrid. He decided on Capstone's diesel microturbines as the range extender. He knew he could rely on them – they've been used in buses for years – but there was still the challenge of fitting the unit into a car like this. Hilleman built the CMT-380 just for himself, but Capstone is happy to show it off as a proof of concept vehicle. It would be too pricey to put into mass production (Hilleman estimated he put in about $375,000 hours of work), but it's not impossible that a high-end, expensive, limited production run could be made some day.

Right now, Hilleman is really happy with his creation. He especially loves the sound of the vehicle. Three feet to the side of the car, the microturbine puts out about 87 dB, but in the cabin, it's nearly silent. California law might require him to add a muffler, but it's already quiet enough without one. He's got a solution for that problem, should he need it.

Hilleman hasn't had a lot of time to actually drive the car – he just finished it last week – but he now has a EV hybrid that he can drive from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, just like he wanted. Check out the car in all its matte glory in the gallery below and listen to Hilleman talk about the journey to create the CMT-380 after the jump.

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Live photos copyright ©2009 Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.


Richard Hilleman (8 min, download 4 MB):



Our travel and lodging for this media event were paid for by the Auto Alliance.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think it looks cool!

      I like the unfinished, mad genius look of the car. It has character, and really stands out. I wish I had one!
      harlanx6
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a really cool car! HFC vehicles may be competitive in cost to this car in a few decades.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Should be the opposite 87db inside the cabin for the rev head and nearly silent outside for the rest of us. That would be an improvement!
        Julian
        • 5 Years Ago
        it would not rev. the turbine would simply run and provide juice to the battery pack. but dont worry i bet the electric motor makes a nice speeder-bike whine.
      • 5 Years Ago
      More pics of the internals here, for you nerds.
      • 5 Years Ago
      More pics of the internals here, for you nerds.
      http://www.ffcobra.com/forums/showthread.php?t=186734&highlight=diesel
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd be willing to trade my Veyron for that. . . if I had a Veyron.

      My only quibble is that I'm not a fan of a matte black paint job -- unless it's covered with caliche dust and kept that way, Mad Max style.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I do like the looks of this kit car, the ad is in the back of PM every month. The wheels wouldn't be my first choice and the missing center caps give it an unfinished look. That is just nit picking though, it's executed very well.

      Stew
      • 5 Years Ago
      its unfair that a lightweight small 40HP turbine costs $100k, because full series microturbine hybrids are really the only logical evolution for vehicles. light weight, absolutely minimal materials, extreme efficiency... turbines are a dream. congrads to the rich bastard who didnt give a rat that a 75lb block of metal and piping cost as much as a house, and please, someone upstage the incumbent microturbine providers with something at an incredible price point, so less well off madmen (such as myself) can start throwing them their vehicles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Get Real. Turbines are not efficient. And the smaller they are, the worse the BSFC is. Just give me that number and everything will be clear. This looks like an investor fishing lure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Me like very much too ! :))))
      Me like to have one now !! Please ! :))))
      • 5 Years Ago
      California law doesn't require you to have a muffler, the Dodge SRT-4 (Neon) shipped without one here. Perhaps he is required to have a spark arrestor?
      • 5 Years Ago
      How does the efficiency of a microturbine compare with an ICE diesel?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Generally lower - 28% peak for capstone microturbine. I am sure a modern TDI is above 30%.

        While the microturbine scores immense cool points and if they were economical might make sense because they don't need regular oil changes, don't need a cooling system either, they aren't economical and aren't likely to be.
      • 5 Years Ago
      take the kitcar body off so i can see that microturbine !
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