Oshkosh, who we reported was using die-cast copper rotors in is latest ProPulse series hybrid drive system last month, has developed, tested and fielded prototypes of the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT A3). The army will be testing several HEMTT A3s over 10,000 miles / 16,093 kms at their Aberdeen Proving Grounds over the next few months. Testers will be throwing everything at the hybrid heavy weights in a bid to prove them ready for combat duty.
The eight-wheel, 13-ton HEMTT A3 uses 20 percent less fuel than the current diesel-only model, and brings 100 kilowatts of portable power along for the ride. This allows fast expeditionary units to bring power with them instead of having to tow an awkward generator to run a command-and-control centre or field hospital. The on-board diesel engine runs a generator, instead of driving the wheels; it is the generator which produces the power to drive eight wheel-mounted electric motors, or provide electricity to mobile operations when the truck is in parking gear. Electricity is stored in an ultracapacitor which operates well in freezing and extremely hot conditions despite weighing more than typical batteries.
Another advantage to using wheel-mounted electric motors is that the lack of a drive-train allows the cargo bed to be lower.
Oshkosh was awarded a $55 million research contract in 2003 to develop the HEMTT A3 by the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Lifecycle Management Command.
Analysis: the military is seeing great promise in hybrid technology to reduce fuel consumption which lessens the logistics burden, and provide more flexibility via highly mobile on-board electric generators. I can see variations on this technology flowing down to commercial vehicles very quickly as the benefits are clear.