You know fuel prices are too high when the U.S. military starts building hybrid Humvees. The FED (Fuel Efficiency Demonstrator) isn’t a replacement for the trusty all-purpose vehicle. Rather the concept is a showcase of the technologies the Army hopes to apply to its existing fleet of vehicles for a new generation of service. The FED is smarter, safer and 30% more fuel efficient than a conventional Army rig, meaning it’s good for 7mpg. Not bad for a 15,000lb vehicle.
The heart of the FED is a Cummins super/turbocharged 200-horsepower, 568lb-ft, 4.5-liter, inline 4-cylinder diesel engine. At top speed the beast can reach 75mph, at which point it could probably be driven through a brick house without issue. Here’s how the FED makes 7mpg an accomplishment:
- Carbon fiber body panels, which reduce weight and increase rigidity
- Lightweight aluminum monocoque armored cab with underbody blast shield
- Tubular space frame chassis for better rigidity-to-weight ratio
- Hybrid drive system - The front axle is powered by an electric motor, while the rear-wheel drive is linked to a hybrid fuel/electric system
- Integrated starter-generator that shuts off the engine during idle time
- Six-speed auto transmission coupled with an advanced lithium-ion battery with high energy and power density
- REM Chemical Isotropic Superfinishing gears -- a finishing process often used in racing vehicles to reduce friction and vibration and improve shifting
- Accelerator force feedback pedal, which cues the drive to accelerate the vehicle for optimal efficiency
- Goodyear low-rolling-resistance tires which minimize the energy wasted as heat between the tire and the road
"Those technologies can be used on current platforms and future platforms to help increase their fuel efficiency,” said Rachel Agusti, lead project engineer. "So this [demonstrator vehicle] isn't something that will go into production, it's something that is furthering technology.”
For a full run-down of the FED, watch Late Night host and car nut Jay Leno get behind the wheel for an unscripted test-drive.