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Chrysler announces development of hydraulic hybrid technology for cars


January 26, 2011

This is the first mock-up of the new hydraulic hybrid engine

This is the first mock-up of the new hydraulic hybrid engine

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Chrysler caught everyone off guard this week when it announced a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to design and develop an experimental hydraulic hybrid powertrain suitable for use in large passenger cars and light-duty vehicles. The aim is to have a running demonstration vehicle based on the current minivan sometime during 2012. EPA has been involved in trials with Eaton Corporation of the company’s hydraulic launch assist technology for trucks.

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.

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 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.”

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

Ford proposed this back in 2001(If I remember the year correctly) But I am glad to see someone utilizing it finally. I think it should be a much less costly alternative to fuel/electric hybrids. Although the trade off is that its not as affective as a diesel-electric or even the less effective gasoline-electric vehicles. The biggest advantages over electric is the size and durability; which are necessary for industrial applications. ( See Gizmag article about the Ford concept here: http://www.gizmag.com/go/1194/ )


Here are two more related articles. Chrysler will need to be quick about this or Ford will beat them to the punch. And with this news now released about Chrysler\'s research Ford will move into high gear. I love technology competition like this! Because WE reap the benefits.




This is impressive. Working around compressed-air tools in the Coast Guard gave me an appreciation for pneumatic and hydraulic technology as systems for energy storage and transmission. I\'ve seen pneumatic car designs before, but they have limited range and utility. A gasoline-hydraulic hybrid has a lot of potential, and circumvents some of the issues with gasoline-electric systems (such as battery production waste products).

Facebook User

www.lightninghybrids.com already has a retrofit for trucks. Why not just use it.

Going with the EPA sound just like a press release.

I hope it truly moves forward. My caravan gets 15/27 real world, this would make it more like 25/27 to haul 7 people around, sounds like a winner.

Hydraulic hybrids are cheaper, use less metals, should last longer.


Fron Wikipedia:

Hydraulic hybrid is a type of regenerative braking system that uses pressurized fluid, instead of electric power, as an additional or alternative power source to the engine.

I don\'t think the article above actually says what the technology is.


Knew a man in [South MO] who built a car that had hydraulic motors at the wheels, had a small gas engine [concept of a skidsteer bobcat], drove it to CA and back on approximately 3 gallons of gas ..tried to market/sell to the BigBoys and had the \'men in black\' come down on him. Oh, they didn\'t take or destroy his car, but under threat of death of self and loved ones, he was told to remain silent. He finally \'junked\' it in a nearby small town salvage yard. 4000 miles on 3 gallons. No, they\'re not trying to give us the best for our money and planet ..just trying to give it to us in increments. Gotta have something better to sell us next year too.

He\'s since died but perhaps his son or family might have the documentation. Would love to put this together w/someone that would follow thru. Of course, this would upset the \'establishment\' of monied.


\"The heart of the system is a six piston radial digital displacement hydraulic pump/motor. This hydraulic motor replaces the port plates and swash plates in conventional hydraulic machines with computer controlled high-speed solenoid valves. Driven by a microprocessor, these solenoids actively control poppet valves that rectify the flow into and out of each cylinder. The hydraulic pump attaches to the flywheel an conventional combustion motor replacing the gearbox. It is hydraulically connected to Digital Displacement Motors coupled to the wheels, so the only connection between the internal combustion motor and the wheels is the hydraulic system.\"

The above is a description of a hydraulic system which doubled the mpg for a car driven in the sity. I don\'t fully understand it myself. I think that this system should work well with large trucks and buses which operate in cities.

Adrian Akau

Random thoughts, hydrolic energy is similar to electric energy. It is a means of convience. Both can be efficient or not. Take your average AC motor and put an amp meter on it, run it with NO load and see how efficient it is. Take a DC motor and run it the same and you will see a dramatic decrease in energy used to produce nothing. Take and air compressor and run the same test. You will see that it is very wasteful to use energy to do nothing. The point is to use the energy efficiently. The next point is to use the energy to find more energy without making a mess of things. A thousand points of light all pointed away from what you need to see are a thousand wasted points of light.


@napaeric \"Take your average AC motor and put an amp meter on it, run it with NO load and see how efficient it is. Take a DC motor and run it the same and you will see a dramatic decrease in energy used to produce nothing.\"


An ammeter will measure current, not power. With AC Watts are NOT volts x amps. You need to take into account Power Factor. An unloaded AC motor has a very low power factor.

Google and learn!


Come on, splat...no need for your last line, is there?

Jeff Chernoff

Gotta go with Facebook User on this. Idea has been around a long time and proven. EPA\'s Charles Davis worked with it beginning back in the early \'90s through the Clinton administration even though the department had rejected the concept in the seventies, choosing to concentrate on flywheels instead. Considering how private parties and companies with so little money in comparison to this bloated bureaucracy are continuing to resurrect hydraulics - and make them work, vis a vis Lightning Hybrids - one has to wonder why the EPA, with all it\'s development cash gets so little done with a long-established technology. Let\'s see now: How long has it been since they announced success with UPS\'s delivery trucks and we still don\'t see many, if any on the road? Cynacism on what they\'re really after - taxpayer dough - kicks in. A gummint department that doesn\'t regularly come up with new projects to present to the CBO gets its budget cut. And of course we all know how much Chrysler can use the green. OK, mebbe Ford will revisit their EPA-funded light truck hydraulic hybrid which they announced ready to roll in 2003/2004...but somehow I doubt that will see light of day again. It will only be to get more of Uncle Sugar\'s funding to develop what they\'ve already developed.

Neil Larkins

This certainly seems like a bogus article to me! To say the car\'s \"engine charges the hydraulic accumulator...\" makes no sense as there would be major losses in the conversions of energy. If braking were to charge the accumulator that would make complete sense--however I find no mention of braking at all. Who writes this stuff?!?

This is perhaps a more complete description of such a system;

\" The pump and accumulator store braking energy, and upon acceleration, the pump becomes a motor that uses the stored energy in the accumulator to provide torque to power the wheels. The large fuel efficiency gains are achieved by regenerating the braking energy that is normally lost to heat, and using this energy instead of (and in addition to, if needed) the internal combustion engine for acceleration. Lightning Hybrid%u2019s HyPER Assist%u2122 (Hydraulic Propulsion & Energy Recovery) system is a simple and effective configuration of a hydraulic pump coupled to the driveline via a belt and clutch. This parallel hybrid system weighs less than 450 pounds and can deliver 40 percent improvement in fuel economy, depending on the amount of braking during a normal drive cycle.\"

Al Mayberry

I think this Hydraulic Hybrid Drivetrain (HHV) would have a great application in the new unibody FWD pickup trucks that are about to come out. Put a hydraulic motor on each rear wheel to give the truck some balls at take off and save $$$ on fuel while at it.

Hoping we see this technology on the new 2012 or 2013 Dodge Lifestyle truck!!!

Is Dodge still planning to implement HHV in 2012?

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