Hydraulic hybrid powertrain technology has been around for some time, and is used in the industrial industry for various plant vehicles and other large machinery. Now though, Chrysler and the EPA want to develop that technology so it can be used in mainstream cars.
The way the system works is relatively simple. A large tank of hydraulic fluid is placed under the car. Each time the car brakes, the fluid gets more and more pressurised. This pressure is then used to generate a motor and thus turn the driven wheels on a car.
Chrysler and Fiat boss, Sergio Marchionne, spoke about the technology at a recent announcement. He said that electric vehicles would not be the entire solution in the short term, and said hydraulic hybrid types were cheaper than that of electric hybrids. Marchionne said,
"Electric cars aren’t the whole answer. The cost of this technology is much less than an electric hybrid … This is real, and it does work. We just need to find out how it performs on the road.”
Chrysler hopes to have finished testing the technology by 2012. The company says using this technology could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent and upwards of 50 percent during city driving.
The EPA initially developed hydraulic hybrids and, if tests prove it is effective, Chrysler will licence it from the EPA and use it in a number of everyday road cars.