National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory

EPA Brings Hydraulic Hybrid Tech to Chrysler Minivan Project

Using technology developed at EPA's Ann Arbor, Mich., lab, the partners will design a vehicle that is expected to have improved fuel efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced a cooperative agreement to develop and adapt hydraulic hybrid technology for the light duty auto market.

The goal of the partnership is to design a Chrysler minivan as a demonstration vehicle using EPA’s own patented technology. It is anticipated that the hydraulic hybrid technology will increase overall fuel efficiency 30 to 35 percent under 60 percent city driving conditions and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent.

“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,” Jackson said. “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.”

EPA’s hydraulic hybrid technology, developed in the agency’s lab in Ann Arbor, Mich., is coming into use in large delivery and refuse trucks across the country. The hydraulic hybrid system captures and reuses the energy lost in braking through a hydraulic pressure vessel. The system can turn off the engine when it is not needed and only fully use the engine when it can operate at peak efficiently.

The new partnership seeks to bring this same cost-effective technology to passenger vehicles. A minivan can be adapted cost effectively to the technology because the hydraulic components are widely available in other industries. A joint engineering team will design and integrate the hydraulic hybrid system into a minivan and test the demonstration vehicle in 2012. The minivan will feature a unique powertrain that replaces the automatic transmission.

EPA’s work for this project will take place at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory. The lab holds more than 60 patents with 25 pending and is at the forefront of the clean energy economy. In addition to advanced technology research, the lab tests and certifies vehicles to be sold in the United States and develops programs that prevent thousands of deaths each year and helps to strengthen the nation’s energy security.

Other key engineering partners working on this project include FEV of America, Inc. of Auburn Hills, Mich., and Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio, Texas and Ann Arbor.

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