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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