A new hybrid technology known as hydraulic launch assist system (HLA) promises dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency, performance, and cost-effectiveness. Initially developed by the Environment Protection Authority in the US, initial tests on the proof-of-concept chassis has since led to remarkable progress with the release of a Ford F-550 commercial demonstration vehicle earlier this year. The HLA has a regenerative braking system that can reportedly improve fuel efficiency by 25 to 40 percent. It works by recovering some of the energy wasted as heat by the vehicle's brakes when slowing. This energy is harnessed and used to propel the vehicle the next time it needs to accelerate. The hydraulic system offers great advantages for vehicles operating in stop and go conditions because the system can capture a large proportion of the energy lost to the automobile when the brakes are applied.
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