Diesel-Electric Plug-in Hybrid, On the Cheap

Dec. 12, 2006: NewCarNet—The First Affordable Diesel Hybrid

Summary: "British automotive engineering consultancy Zytek has developed the world’s first low-cost, high-efficiency hybrid-electric drivetrain.

Launched by the Minister of State for Transport, Dr. Stephen Ladyman, the new technology will allow vehicle owners to drive across London’s extended congestion charge zone for just four pence.

The novel dual-mode technology offers a realistic alternative to expensive proprietary systems and can be quickly implemented within the packaging constraints of compact European passenger. "

The winning hybrid was built around a small, very high efficiency diesel engine—the 1.5 litre, three cylinder found in the DaimlerChrysler smart forfour CDi. To this, two electric motors were added: a starter/generator permanently engaged with the engine and a traction motor. A sophisticated controller and gearbox replace the little forfour’s original transmission, and a lithium ion battery is stowed under the "boot."

Further adding to the design’s flexibility, drivers can choose among "economy," "drive," and "sport" settings, tailored for downtown London, rural Sicily, or the Autobahn. All for a price that promises to be affordable—at least after the incentives and tax breaks

More technical details are available at Zytek’s site (scroll past the agenda), but for now, here’s hoping some of this British brilliance makes it across the pond!


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  • CDurnell

    For those of you who have openly questioned the environmental relevancy of auto racing, it should be pointed out that Zytek (it is Zytek, not to be confused with Zytec, which is an electrical engineering company) has to its name a LeMans prototype currently running in both the ELMS and ALMS racing series. They are also the current engine suppliers to the A1GP series and had the engine contract for the now-defunct F3000 Formula One support series. To their efforts should be added those of Prodrive (ALMS, F1 and World Rally competitors) who are doing the fabrication of the Tango EV, and Lotus (former F1 competitors) who are building the Tango EV.

  • CDurnell

    That should be ‘Lotus…who are building the Tesla EV.’

  • very nice, Now when do we see

    Well I’m not holding my breath. This stalling of technology from auto makers just keeps on going and going. In Canada were still waiting, and will probably never see, the Smart Forfour.

    The latest Hybrids are a joke. A savings of 10% only for the new Silverado Hybrid. The Toyota Hybrid is not affordable for most customers.

    We all want to see this Diesel Hybrid. Emagine the low emissions if you ran it with bio-diesel?

    Damien Gagne
    Winnipeg, Canada

  • Charles

    unfortunately, the Silverado is not a TRUE hybrid. If it ain’t got electric motive power, it ain’t a hybrid. I’d call it a Silverado DeWalt. It’s nothing more than a GM ploy to use the word for marketing purposes.

  • mike

    these guys better take action quick, or they won’t be here in 20 years. the prius has been out for around 8 years (!) and I don’t see any competition whatsoever from the domestics guys. escape and vue don’t count – the demand is for a CAR.

  • TheGiant

    Show me the numbers that make this technology affordable.

  • Charles

    Affordable Hybrids? Yes, they do exist! If you look at the base model Civic Hybrid, it’s actually less expensive than the fully loaded Civic Sedan. …and like with anything, once economies of scale are reached, price will definitely come down.

    The real future is in pHEVs.