College students help TARDEC design hybrid vehicle

  • 25-Apr-2012 01:49 EDT
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The FED Bravo boosts fuel economy by 90%.


Military vehicles are adopting hybrid technologies to help reduce oil consumption and carry extra battery capability when warfighters need it. The U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, MI, is highlighting a demonstrator that performs the functions of a Humvee while consuming far less fuel.

“This does the same job as a Humvee, but it gets 90% better gas mileage,” said Carl Johnson, team leader at TARDEC. However, he noted that fuel economy is a relative comparison. The 18,000-lb (8165-kg) vehicle gets 9.5 mpg, compared to 4.5 for a Humvee.

TARDEC’s Fuel Efficient Demonstrator (FED) Bravo demonstrator is a road-coupled parallel drive hybrid, with a front axle driven solely by electric motors and a rear axle powered by a 4.4-L V8 Ford engine and battery pack. It can plug into a TM3 microgrid system to provide power for Forward Operating Bases if necessary.

Johnson feels that many components of the vehicle may see use in future military designs. “This is a concept vehicle. You will not see this go into production, but you’ll probably see pieces of it in other vehicles when they go into production,” Johnson said.

Since the demonstrator won’t be built in volume, developers tried a different design strategy. The FED Bravo was developed in part by students at the College for Creative Studies, a Detroit-area industrial design school. After one of the student’s body designs was picked, he was hired to help design the interior.

The FED Bravo was one of the first vehicles to undergo testing at the Army’s Ground Systems Power and Energy Lab, which was opened earlier this month. That 30,000-ft² (2787-m²) facility has eight different labs, with the ability to test vehicles at temperatures from -60 to +160°F (-51 to +71°C). The vehicle will go to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in August to do more in-depth testing this fall.

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