• Apr 26, 2012
The biggest vehicle on the floor of the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit this week is the Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator (FED) Bravo. As that name might suggest, yes, this is a military project. Also, the term "fuel-efficient" is relative: the FED only gets around 10 miles per gallon, depending on terrain. At the Aberdeen Proving Ground, it gets between an estimated 11.2 and 12.5 mpg. Going cross country, it's more like 7.3. Oh, and that's using JP-8 fuel. This is an 18-feet-long, 16,760-pound (GVW) military vehicle after all. If you were curious how, according to the Army, today's soldier uses an average of 22 gallons of gasoline a day, now you have an idea.

Still, the Army is proud of the FED Bravo, which made its public debut here in Cobo Hall. Engineers from the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) worked with 18 students from the College for Creative Studies (CCS) on the design of the vehicle, including the "road-coupled parallel hybrid drive system" (aka, through-the-road hybrid). An electric motor drives the front wheels while the rear axle is connected to the hybrid powertrain that uses a Ford 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged, V8 diesel engine. A 22.5-kWh lithium-ion battery provides some zero-emission capability and the FED Bravo can provide power when needed. When in "tactical idle," the FED Bravo burns 0.49 gallons an hour.

The Army recently opened up a high-tech energy lab in Warren, MI.
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Army Fuel Efficient Concept Vehicle Making Public Debut at Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit

• Army display focused on effective energy security
• Hybrid vehicle designed by students at Detroit's College for Creative Studies
• New energy security laboratory, microgrid technology also on display

U.S. ARMY DETROIT ARSENAL, WARREN, Mich. – Following last week's grand opening of its high-tech energy lab in Warren, the Army will publicly debut a new fuel efficient concept vehicle that significantly improves fuel economy and has the capability to generate and export power for Soldiers in austere places like Afghanistan.

The Fuel Efficient ground vehicle Demonstrator (FED) Bravo will be on display at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2012 World Congress April 24-26 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

True to this year's SAE 2012 theme, Get Connected, the FED Bravo ventured into uncharted territory when the Army collaborated with students at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, to design the new concept vehicle. CCS has a thriving, highly respected automotive design program to feed the styling studios of the Big Three car companies. A group of 18 CCS students designed the vehicle to meet specific Army requirements for fuel economy, performance, protection, payload and interior layout.

The Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in
Warren, Mich., will have a significant presence at the show. In addition to the public debut of the FED Bravo vehicle, the display will also feature a small TM3 microgrid system. When the FED Bravo plugs into the TM3, it is capable of providing power for Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and other small military outposts, significantly reducing power requirements, making Soldiers more efficient and safer. There will also be a scale model of the Army's new Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) on display at SAE. The Army's green energy future is now!

FED Bravo was funded by the Secretary of Defense and developed by TARDEC engineers in conjunction with industry partner WTSI. It features:

• Road-coupled parallel hybrid drive system. The front axle is powered by an electric motor, while the rear-wheel-drive is linked to a hybrid fuel-powered and electric system.
• Ford 4.4-liter twin turbocharged V8 diesel engine, capable of producing 268 hp providing ample power and mobility for military operations.
• Integrated starter-generator that shuts off the engine during idle time and restarts it when the driver touches the accelerator, which improves fuel economy and reduces emissions.
• Six-speed automatic transmission coupled with an advanced lithium-ion battery with high energy and power density.
• The full-power hydraulic brake system with antilock brakes is combined with the vehicle's steering system to supply the hydraulic pressure demands for the steering, eliminating a second pump and improving efficiency.
• Carbon ceramic brake rotors with advanced coating for durability, plus low-drag aluminum brake calipers.
• Tubular space frame chassis for better rigidity-to-weight ratio combined with armored cab and V-shaped hull for protection from blasts.

Headquartered at the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal in Warren, MI, TARDEC is a major research, development and engineering center for the Army Materiel Command's Research, Development and Engineering Command and an enterprise partner in the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. TARDEC is the Nation's laboratory for advanced military automotive technology and serves as the Ground Systems Integrator for all Department of Defense (DOD) manned and unmanned ground vehicle systems. With roots dating back to the World War II era, TARDEC is a full life-cycle, systems engineering support provider-of-first-choice for all DOD ground combat and combat support weapons, equipment and vehicle systems. TARDEC develops and integrates the right technology solutions to improve Current Force effectiveness and provides superior capabilities for Future Force integration. TARDEC's technical, scientific and engineering staff lead cutting-edge research and development in Ground Systems Survivability; Power and Mobility; Ground Vehicle Robotics; Force Projection; and Vehicle Electronics and Architecture. www.tardec.army.mil.

Companies interested in partnering with the Army or testing in the GSPEL can contact TARDEC through the Ground Vehicle Gateway: www.groundvehiclegateway.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Paul P.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Interesting how both Europeans (Land Rover buyers) and U.S. military researchers can get their hands on Ford's 4.4l diesel. Whereas American consumers can't get that engine in anything. It would be nice if we were given the option too.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why do you have to open the rear hatch to plug in the charger? They have the gas tank access on the right side of the vehicle, it seems like that would be more of a vehicle weak-point than the charging port.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I spy the proposed L2/L3 combined charging port that SAE is proposing as a new "standard" for quick charging.
        • 2 Years Ago
        It is "official" that they are working on it, however, there are many thousands of CHAdeMO-equipped vehicles on the roads already; not an official standard, but a de facto standard.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Good catch. So why isn't that damn thing official yet? They said Q1 2012. Make it official, the market is waiting!
        • 2 Years Ago
        Good catch. So why isn't that damn thing official yet? They said Q1 2012. Make it official, the market is waiting!
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      Marco Polo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oh, please lend me one,so I can park it outside DF's house, ;) But in reality, concept exercises like these are very important for pushing the boundaries of technology.