By on January 19, 2011

When Chrysler let slip at the Detroit Auto Show that it would be offering a hybrid version of its 300 sedan by 2013, we automatically assumed that the Pentastar was going back to its Hemi-based Two-Mode V8 hybrid system, jointly developed by GM, Chrysler, BMW and Mercedes. Not so, it turns out. That billion-dollar drivetrain has been relegated to poor-selling hybrid SUVs, and it’s already being considered a dead-end by at least the German firms who helped develop it. Instead, it seems that Chrysler has gone to the government for a hybrid system, and will adapt a hydraulic hybrid system developed by the EPA.

According to a Chrysler-EPA press release

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.

The government may have failed to secure a meaningful green car commitment from Fiat when the Italian firm took Chrysler over, but by giving Chrysler access to its hydraulic hybrid technology, it may yet be able to generate some green headlines for America’s least-fuel-efficient automaker. And if $10m+ per-year EPA programs exist for anything, it’s surely to justify the green promises associated with the bailout. And, apparently, keeping Chrysler’s “World Engine” series somehow viable in the market.

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32 Comments on “Chrysler’s Publicly-Funded Hydraulic Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    Bluliner

    The more I read about these complex and expensive fuel saving measures, the more I realize the genius and potential of the Crower 6-Stroke engine.
     

    • 0 avatar
      celebrity208

      Wikipedia’s description of the “Obstacles and Problems” is missing the most significant drawback, emissions controls in the presence of super heated steam.  I question the applicability of current catalytic converter technology in such an engine in the area of long term durability, reliability, and effectiveness.
       
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crower_six_stroke

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    Well, I never heard of this technology.
    But if it works, I guess it would cost less than batteries and electric motors that require exotic rare metals.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I think the problem with hydraulic hybrids is that they’re very, very heavy.  Ford had a kick at this system and was flummoxed by how massive it was.  In that sense, it’s similar to the issues that plague two-mode: ok for heavy trucks, but it doesn’t scale.
       
      You want to know what system freaks me out?  KERS.  A twelve-pound metal disc, sitting a few inches away from me, happily spinning away. At 70,000rpm.  Shudder…

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “You want to know what system freaks me out?  KERS.”

      Really. What kind of containment structure do you need for that much kinetic energy?

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      That’s Williams’ version of KERS:  I’m pretty sure that the systems used by McLaren and Ferrari used batteries to store energy.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      …and the aborted Chrysler Patriot Le Man’s racer was to use flywheels:
       
      http://green.autoblog.com/2007/08/07/the-chrysler-patriot-hybrid-drive-le-mans-racer-from-the-mid-90s/

    • 0 avatar

      You guys didn’t hear about Porsche promising a flywheel-based hybrid? I could swear that I have. Road car, not just track.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I heard about it, and I sure as hell hope I’m never anywhere near such a car when it gets into an serious accident and that flywheel is spinning.

  • avatar

    This is exciting. I liked the idea when I first heard about its use in UPS trucks about a year or two ago. American technology, no need for pricey and toxic batteries, relatively simple and effective. It sounds like a win in every way, if they can successfully scale it down and make it not sound like industrial machinery. If it’s been successful in UPS trucks, it must be pretty reliable.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Sounds pretty inexpensive.  I am wondering how highway performance would do here.  I think this could be a fantastic way to make hybrids without batteries.  I had heard of using a flywheel to store energy before, but I think this sounds a little less expensive and safer than that.
     
    I do wonder about packaging this though.  Might be tough to get this type of system into a compact car, well with large tanks anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Just a guess, but highway performance is probably less than stellar.  The beauty of this system is it captures energy that would be wasted when a vehicle is slowing or idling.  Great for a UPS truck making lots of deliveries, perhaps not so great for highway cruising.
      Ed, our government goes through 10 mil every half hour in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least the EPA got something with the money they spent.

    • 0 avatar

      Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are legitimate functions of the government and EPA is not. And why bring them up? Entitlement spending, social programs, and debt servicing exceed these wars. And finally look how many people your precious EPA threw out in the street in California. We would be much better with EPA taking its wonderful hybrid system, choke on it and die.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      Since when is empire building, offensive wars, and nation building legitimate functions of government?  We weren’t attacked by Iraq, we were attacked by Al-qaeda, which was sheltered in Afghanistan.  I don’t remember our founding fathers being too thrilled with the idea of invading other countries.
       
      So, a socialized war macine with far-flung bases is OK, but a government agency charged with preventing environmental poisons is not?

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I grew up in the 1970s. I saw what limited environmental regulation does. No thanks. They are STILL cleaning up the pollution dumped in the 60s and 70s where I grew up. No thanks, I’ll take some gov’t controls over pollution.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Very clever.  I’m also wondering if it can be scaled down to work on a mid sized car.  High pressure tanks can be made from carbon fiber for light weight and strength so maybe it can be done.  However, how do you dispose of one of these tanks if the car is wrecked?  14 gallons of oil under 5,000 PSI would get my respect.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Both the 300 and T&C hybrids are due for a 2013 launch. Marchionne also said one of Chrysler Group’s two minivans would get the axe. With a hybrid version in the works, I guess that means the Grand Caravan (as we know it) will be the dead duck…?

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Lots of empty promises from Chrysler – look up the electric cars they promised a few years ago. And the Chrysler ESX-3.
      Well let’s put it this way – they don’t differentiate very well between their concepts and what they promise to produce.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Doing more reading about this from other websites, the biggest advantage in terms of energy conservation is that this system, if properly engineered, could absorb and discharge energy much faster than todays batteries.  That is pretty good when thinking about efficiency.  Of course the downside is the size of the tanks.  It would almost need to be built into the structure of the vehicle to make sense in small autos.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I read earlier in the day that this system increases mileage by 30-40%. Sounds promising and fairly simple. Also, temperature drops like we have in much of the country should produce fairly small losses to these systems.

  • avatar
    dancote

    Whys is the UPS truck driving on the wrong side of the road?

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Perhaps they outsourced the animation sequence to a company that drives on the left side of the road?

  • avatar

    Dana Corp developed a hydraulic hybrid called Intelligent Hydraulic Drive, I believe originally for 6X6 military utility vehicles. Since then the technology was sold to Bosch’s Rexroth subsidiary.
    Here’s a link to how their system works. As mentioned above, the advantage, particularly with trucks, is the ability to discharge power quickly.
     

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Interesting, I can see some advantages over an electric/internal combustion hybrid, in that you don’t have to deal with the issues inherent with a battery system, such as the expense to manufacture the batteries and the degredation over time.  Enviornmental impact of HEV’s is still rather depends on whom you’re asking, but I think the hydraulc system would be far simpler from the manufacturing and maintenance standpoint than the HEV. Even better you don’t have travel all around the planet to find the raw materials for it as you do current battery technology.  Perhaps scaling this to a passenger car will allow Chrysler to market a hybrid whose price isn’t double a conventional vehicle.

    If Sergio wants to get a jump on everyone else maybe he should put a hydrogen fuel cell in a 300 instead. 

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    In most hydraulic systems that require hydraulic energy to be stored, there is an accumulator.  That is what the high pressure side is.  There is generally a bladder filled with nitrogen that is there to help maintain the pressure it is charged to since as was already brought up, hydraulic fluid does not compress.  Nitrogen however does, which is where the actual energy is really stored.  To further the point, as the hydraulic fluid is discharged from the accumulator, the nitrogen pressure will drop as the bladder it is stored in expands.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      In other words, this is really a pneumatic system.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It’s a hydraulic system with a hydro-pneumatic accumulator.
       
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_accumulator

    • 0 avatar
      MrFixit1599

      Correct, the nitrogen is never released from the system, it stays captive in the expandable bladder.  The system is recharged as the hydraulic pump sends pressurized hydraulic fluid back into the accumulator, which shrinks the nitrogen bladder, therefore increasing the pressure in the bladder.  This is the first time I have seen this system, however I work on industrial hydraulic systems daily, and would love to have a vehicle like this.  I could actually work on the drivetrain.  My only concern is, transferring said hydraulic pressure into enough torque needed at higher speeds.  At low speed I have no doubt it will work great, as many forklifts, bobcats, endloaders, etc all use a hydraulic drive system.  They all have plenty of torque at low speed.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    There is a lot of revisionist history going on here. The “two-mode” Hybrid system is based on Toyota patents. The original Hydraulic Launch Assist system was developed by Eaton and Ford, not the EPA. In that system as designed for use on MD trucks places the hydraulic pump in the center of a multi-piece driveshaft. and there is no pressure in the storage tank, just a normal vented storage tank. So while it doesn’t allow for engine off acceleration but is more efficient at cruising.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    “Two-Mode V8 hybrid system, jointly developed by GM, Chrysler, BMW and Mercedes. Not so, it turns out. That billion-dollar drivetrain has been relegated to poor-selling hybrid SUVs, and it’s already being considered a dead-end by at least the German firms who helped develop it.”

    Chrysler gave up on this useless POS Teutonic system a couple of years back before bankruptcy even. Seem to remember they weren’t selling anyway.
    Is anyone using them now?


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