Capstone Turbine Corporation has shown off its high performance hybrid electric car, the CMT-380, at the LA Auto Show. The car features a 30kW microturbine that extends the range of its traditional EV batteries, and which the company likens to having an ultra-clean and quiet jet engine under the hood. Capstone adds that the supercar, still in its test phase, reaches 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, has a top speed of 150mph, and a range of up to 500 miles on a single tank of fuel - all with ultra-low exhaust emissions that rival any hybrid on the market today.

Housed inside a very cool-looking Factory Five Racing GTM body, the Capstone C30 (30kW) microturbine runs on diesel or biodiesel, and already meets the stringent clean air requirements of the California Air Resources Board or EPA 2010.

The CMT-380’s lithium-polymer battery cells can be charged at home or at a public recharging station and, according to Capstone, the sports car can operate on 100 percent battery power in zero emissions mode for a range of up to 80 miles. When the batteries reach a predetermined state of discharge, the Capstone C30 microturbine kicks in to run the motor and also recharges the batteries on the fly to extend the driving range up to a total of around 500 miles. It’s claimed by the manufacturers that the diesel-fueled C30 microturbine requires less maintenance than traditional combustion engines and produces ultra-low exhaust emissions.

Capstone Turbine's CMT-380's 30kW microturbine features an electric generator and turbine components mounted on a single shaft, which is supported by air bearings - so there are no liquids to lubricate or cool the microturbine. It uses a patented combustion system to achieve extremely low exhaust emissions that do not require expensive exhaust “after treatments”.

The concept for the high performance hybrid electric microturbine vehicle was developed by Richard Hilleman, Chief Creative Director of video game publisher Electronic Arts, with support from Capstone Turbine.

"Not only does this car look great and is fun to drive, but its low-maintenance, high-efficiency turbine engine makes it a stress-free, no compromise hybrid," said Hilleman. "The CMT-380 is perfect for people who want it all. These kinds of customers value a high level of driving performance but also are concerned about social issues such as reducing greenhouse emissions and limiting our country's dependence on foreign oil," he said.

Capstone's 30kW microturbines have been installed in hybrid electric buses, trolleys and transit shuttles around the world, including hybrid buses operating today in U.S. cities like New York, Baltimore and Charlotte, and internationally in London, Tokyo, Paris, Rome and Auckland.

"The vehicle market is not a new market for Capstone," said Darren Jamison, Capstone President and CEO. "In fact hybrid electric vehicle applications have always been part of Capstone's vision since the company was founded back in 1988. The first microturbines Capstone designed and built were integrated into automotive applications. But like all new technologies, timing is everything and our initial hybrid design for cars was ahead of its time and the company turned to the more mature stationary power markets. Now, more than two decades later, hybrid electric vehicles are gaining interest in the market and people are taking another look at microturbines as electric vehicle battery chargers and for public charging stations."

"The Capstone CMT-380 is a fun hybrid car with tremendous performance. Although it is not in Capstone's business plan to start manufacturing complete cars, the limited production CMT-380 and Langford Whisper hybrid demonstration vehicle are intended to showcase the technology and demonstrate value proposition of microturbines as electric vehicle range extenders," added Jamison. "Both Capstone and Langford have been in discussions with automotive industry companies, and these concept and demonstration vehicles help showcase the technology and generate public awareness of the benefits of microturbine technology."

Capstone is now finishing up the conceptual design and first article testing stage of the CMT-380 and plans to finalize a limited production plan, based in part on interest received at the LA Auto Show, very soon.