EPA, Chrysler work on hybrid engines for minivans
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Chrysler and the Environmental Protection Agency are trying to adapt an engine technology invented by the EPA to improve gas mileage in minivans.
The company and the government agency said Wednesday theyre working to fit the EPAs hydraulic hybrid system into Chrysler minivans. If it works, the system could boost minivan mileage 35 percent to around 27 miles per gallon. Currently the top Chrysler minivan gets 20 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
The agreement was announced as Chrysler and other auto companies seek new technologies to help to meet stricter government fuel economy regulations that call for a fleet average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, nearly 10 miles per gallon more than now. The standards could go as high as 47 mpg to 62 mpg by 2025.
The system, invented by scientists at the EPAs laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., is now used in more than a dozen trash and package delivery trucks in Florida and Michigan. About 50 more trucks are on order from manufacturers that have licensed the system. It uses energy from the trucks conventional engines and brakes to pump fluid into a tank under high pressure. The fluid is released and runs hydraulic motors that power the truck, and the conventional engine is turned on only when needed to pressurize the tank.
“The technology has been very successful for stop-and-go type driving in large trucks,” said David Haugen, manager of technology development at the EPA lab.
Chrysler, which is 10 percent owned by the U.S. government because of a $12.5 billion bailout in 2009, had the lowest fleet gas mileage of any major automaker in 2009 at 19.2 mpg.