• Jan 19th 2011 at 2:09PM
  • 30
The closest Americans can get to a hybrid minivan in 2011 – an entirely practical vehicle if there ever was one – are the Prius V and the 2012 Ford C-Max, both of which are due later this year but are not really minivans. This will sort of change in 2012 thanks to a new research project announced today by Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne and Lisa Jackson, Agency Administrator for the EPA.

The automaker and the government will test a promising technology: the hydraulic hybrid powertrain in Chrysler's Town & Country minivan. Hydraulics in vehicles have been tested in larger vehicles by FedEx, Ford (with its hydraulic-launch-assist) and others. What Chrysler and the EPA will do is produce a running demonstration vehicle (yes, just one) in 2012 using a hydraulic hybrid system that the EPA developed in Ann Arbor, MI. The T&C will use a 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder gasoline engine that will share motivation duties with a 117 cc engine pump, a 45 cc drive electric motor and a two-speed automatic transmission. The hydraulic fluid will be stored in a 14.4-gallon high pressure accumulator that can get up to 5,000 psi. If there's enough energy in the accumulator, the motor will shut down until it's needed again. If it all works as advertised, then overall fuel economy will be improved around 30-35 percent, while city miles per gallon will be improved by up to 60 percent. We've heard rumors of a Chrysler minivan for years. Sound like, this time, something real will actually arrive.

[Source: Chrysler, Detroit News]
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Chrysler Group LLC and U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Announce new Research Project for Hydraulic Hybrid Powertrain

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --

* New business-government research project to include design and development of experimental hydraulic hybrid powertrain
* Chrysler Group to focus on controls and packaging of hydraulic hybrid system adapted to current minivan
* Research efforts aim to produce running demonstration vehicle in 2012

Chrysler Group LLC and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a partnership to determine the possibility of adapting a hydraulic hybrid system for large passenger cars and light-duty vehicles.

The announcement was made at the EPA laboratories in Ann Arbor, Mich., following a meeting with Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group CEO, and Lisa P. Jackson, Agency Administrator for the EPA.

"In addition to creating the jobs of the future, clean energy benefits the U.S. economy by ultimately making energy costs more affordable for consumers – especially if their dollars stay in America," Marchionne said. "Hydraulic hybrid vehicle technology is one more promising path worth pursuing in the effort to reduce our carbon footprint, and we are excited to partner with the EPA to push forward on this track."

"Hydraulic hybrid vehicles represent the cutting edge of fuel-efficiency technology and are one of many approaches we're taking to save money for drivers, clean up the air we breathe and cut the greenhouse gases that jeopardize our health and prosperity," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "The EPA and Chrysler are working together to explore the possibilities for making this technology affordable and accessible to drivers everywhere. This partnership is further proof that we can preserve our climate, protect our health and strengthen our economy all at the same time."

The hydraulic hybrid system, developed by the EPA's lab in Ann Arbor, is well known and currently used in industrial applications, including large delivery trucks and refuse trucks across the country. The technology has shown substantial increases in fuel economy when compared with traditional powertrains in the same type of vehicles. Working together, both parties hope to reduce the size and complexity of the hybrid system and produce a technology that is sensitive to the needs of drivers for smooth and quiet operation.

The research project will focus on adapting the hydraulic hybrid system to a Chrysler Town & Country minivan equipped with a 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder gasoline engine. Components of the hydraulic hybrid system include a 117 cc engine pump, a 45 cc drive electric motor and a two-speed automatic transmission. Fluid for the system will be stored in a 14.4-gallon high pressure accumulator.

The system produces power with engine torque driving a hydraulic pump that charges the high pressure accumulator of up to 5,000 p.s.i. The high-pressure accumulator delivers the pressure energy to the axle hydraulic motor, giving the vehicle power to drive the wheels. The gas engine will remain off if the accumulator charge is sufficient to drive the motor.

"In this hydraulic hybrid project, the Chrysler Group and EPA will evaluate and, hopefully, validate fuel-efficiency gains and greenhouse gas reductions," Marchionne said. "One of the aims of Chrysler Group's integration efforts will be to meet driver expectations for smooth and quiet operation, so that Americans will want to buy and will enjoy driving vehicles with this technology."

The Chrysler Group has actively adopted fuel-saving technologies including cylinder deactivation on V-8 engines, a new MultiAir system that is being introduced on the Fiat 500 today and will introduce an eight-speed transmission in the 2011 Chrysler 300 that will be introduced later this year. Chrysler Group also will introduce 150 Ram 1500 trucks with a plug-in hybrid system in the coming months as part of a project with the U. S. Department of Transportation.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Spec -

      You have it backwards:

      "- Hydraulic systems are much more durable, long term, require less maintenance, and will perform in nearly ALL applications (especially rugged and corrosive, etc) vs electrical components and wiring and connections. AND much easier to diagnois, modify and adjust for different applications."

      Precharging wouldnt be necessary, creating the hyd pressure required to move a vehicle would be almost instant! and re-occuring!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I must respectfully disagree. While hydraulic motors are certainly reliable enough to be practical, they still have more moving parts and do require more maintenance than electric motors. Diagnosis of problems with hydraulic systems can be challenging, especially for small leaks.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A hydraulic hybrid is an interesting idea, but that looks like it's even more complicated than an electric hybrid.

      This should be interesting.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That sounds awesome!

      If they could put hangers for a plow on the front and take-offs for a hydraulic setup to run it that would be even more awesomer!
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is some of the most intresting stuff I have read… EPE Process Filters & Accumulators Pvt. Ltd is manufacturer & exporter of Hydraulic Filters&High Pressure Filters.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The EPA is now developing hybrid drive systems? Is that really a good use of limited funds?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Throwback most industry executives only care about the company stock price in 1-2 years they will only invest in incremental technology advances that will provide profits in the near term. They don't care about investing in long term research that might yield profitable products in 5-10 years. It takes money, foresight & a commitment to fostering innovation that just doesn't exist in corporate America today.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If the government doesn't invest in long-term research & development who will? China?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Throwback: We dont have a cell phone crisis. We do have an energy crisis. The goverments job is to protect the public. Without the government stepping in automakers would not care about the crisis that would happen years down the road. Like paul said, they are only worried about their stock price 1-2 years down the road.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The US government developed the technology that is in much of what we use everyday from velcro to airplane designs.

        Notably, the Volt's battery was developed with US government research.
        • 4 Years Ago
        How about Chrysler? If they can't compete in their chosen field of endeavor they should go out of business. How about we have the DOE help Microsoft (or motorola) build cell phones? If the government wont do it who will, right?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ford had talked about using this on the F-150 years ago.
      I wish they had. Seemed like a great idea.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sounds like they are aiming to build the ultimate mail truck.

      These hydraulics hybrid systems are perfect for all frequent stop applications; mail, trash, city bus, etc. I'd be surprised, though, to see technology make it to the sales lot.
        • 4 Years Ago
        'I predict that they will eventually find a place in EV versions of stop and go service work and maybe EV race cars.'

        They are already in perfectly normal cars. Again, courtesy of Valeo, using Maxwell capacitors, an American firm.
        Citroen and Peugeot are leaders in the field, but there are a lot of cross licensing agreements which means that they are used in several other makes too:

        'Since the system was first marketed, the Group has booked orders to equip 50 vehicle models from more than 10 different automakers.'

        • 4 Years Ago
        ICEs are about 30% efficient and that's the starting point before you start losing efficiency by transforming from one form of energy to another. This idea might be of value if you store energy in the car from an outside source before you drive it and you run the engine in its most productive rpm range. Chysler needs to catch up with the BEV world.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are presumably not including systems which use supercapacitors for regenerative braking?
        I believe that they can be very efficient.
        Valeo is now using them in combination with a battery, and they will be introduced in a variety of models soon.
        'The first generation StARS with start-stop capability, which did not include a dedicated energy storage component, initially was offered in 2004. The new 14+X architecture incorporates enhanced electronics and an ultracapacitor energy storage module that allows it to recuperate and store energy from braking, which otherwise would be dissipated as friction and heat in a conventional braking system.'


        Cost is saved in their system because the energy is not applied to the power train, instead going into ancillary uses.
        • 4 Years Ago
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hey Laddy,
        "This idea might be of value if you store energy in the car from an outside source before you drive it "

        Hydraulic energy storage systems do not store much energy, but they can absorb and re-deploy a lot of power for short periods of time at great efficiency, meaning they are very efficient at regenerative breaking, much more so than an EV motor / generator. It's a very efficient KERS system making it great for stop and go applications. Technically, the primary power source could be anything than spins, ICE, electric motor, turbine, large gerbil wheel, etc.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @David Martin

        Capacitors are also very good at discharging and absorbing power. I predict that they will eventually find a place in EV versions of stop and go service work and maybe EV race cars.

        Capacitors probably have a longer time before they are mainstream, but hydraulic/ICE hybrids are already being tested to show enormous efficiency gains by UPS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I believe these are already deployed in larger trucks.


      I'm not sure of the advantages over an ICE-battery hybrid.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Another advantage is a very high charge/discharge cycle count for the accumulator, it should last longer than batteries would. As others have mentioned, it is great for frequent stop applications like garbage trucks and mail delivery.

        Now for the disadvantages: Energy density for the hydraulic accumulator is low, less than for lead acid, that limits energy storage, so there won't be a "plug-in" version. Because the accumulator works by compressing/decompressing air in a sealed chamber, there are thermodynamic losses, making it somewhat less efficient than a well designed electric hybrid. Hydraulic pumps and motors have more moving parts and more friction than their electric counterparts, thus have a shorter lifespan and more maintenance.

        In short, well suited for certain special applications, but I don't expect widespread usage.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The most obvious advantage of a hydraulic hybrid over a battery hybrid is cold weather performance. Many northern cities have opted for the Eaton hydraulic hybrid garbage trucks for this reason. The second advantage is cost - hydraulic systems are cheaper by 20% - 40%. The third is weight - batteries are crazy heavy. The fourth is complexity - hydraulic systems and their components have been around for decades, while automotive battery technology has only occurred in the last decade.
        • 4 Years Ago
        > while automotive battery technology has only occurred in the last decade.

        Try again. More like over a hundred years now.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Throwback must either be Chinese or work for a lobbying firm that's contracted by the same.

      Can't you see the nation is in a crisis, or are you one of the traitorous schmucks profiteering from the downfall of the Republic vis a vis outsourcing, importing, and lobbying?

      • 4 Years Ago
      Wat? Is this like a traditional hybrid except that instead of using a battery and electric motor to help the gas system, it will use a pressure accumulator and hydraulic motor?

      Hmm . . . interesting. But I gotta say I'd rather stick with electrical systems. With electrical systems you can easily make the battery bigger and pre-charge the battery from your grid . . . a PHEV like the Volt. I guess you could increase the size of your pressure accumulator and fill it using an electric motor pump but that has a transfer of energy systems and loses efficiency.

      Plus, these mechanical things are more likely to require maintenance and eventually break down than electrical systems.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I believe clusterf**** is the word you were looking for.
      • 4 Years Ago
      - Doesnt require more coal or nuke plants or overprice windmills to create more electricity, and the grid is already taxed. There is a day coming electricity will be more expensive and harder to get than gasoline.
      - Combine with an ICE system or small diesel engine for more MPG & EPA approved.
      - Ability to still have a HP system - ie HEMI OR Cummins Ram when power is needed.
      - Doesnt require lithium from China
      - Entire system can be repaired or recycled
      - System currently being used and tested is Made in the USA, using USA components....

      Hydraulics have been successfully used in industry and agriculture for years, well tested, and energy (liquid) is easily replenished & safe.

      Doesnt say what the 45CC electric drive motor is for?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I suspect the "45CC electric drive motor" was a typo, more likely just a 45 cc hydraulic motor - that is, 45 cubic centimeter displacement for its pistons.

        The notion that "electricity will be more expensive and harder to get than gasoline" is totally absurd, considering that gasoline comes only from declining fossil fuel reserves, but electricity comes from many different sources, including several renewables, and even the fossil fuel sources for electricity are far more abundant than oil.

        China isn't the worlds biggest supplier of lithium, Bolivia is. There are also extensive supplies in Australia and the US. We're not going to see the OPEC equivalent for Lithium, it is far too common.

        Both hydraulic and electric hybrids can work with high powered engines, in fact the GM Dual Mode electric hybrid transmission was specifically designed for the large engines used in busses and trucks.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you live in the northeast your electricity may already be more expensive than gasoline. Of course we could argue all day about the whole electricity/gasoline/other fuels debate.

        This is an interesting concept and could have applications. I would expect that it could significantly impact city mpg. If it proves viable and can be done on a commercial scale less expensively than battery technology it may make for a good thing to bring to market, even if it is just a stepping stone to something else.

        Not using rare-earth materials is also a big plus. Electric is great, but if we are only trading our reliance on Arab oil barons for reliance on Chinese metals barons we haven't gained a thing.
      • 2 Months Ago

      Where is it? It is 2015 and hydraulics are common.

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