Still think hybrids and green cars are meek and hipsterish? Plant your eyes on the US Army's Fuel Efficient ground vehicle Demonstrator Bravo. It's one of the burliest vehicles you've likely seen in years, and it's all hybrid underneath its rugged metal shell.
If you think you spend a lot of money on gas, imagine how much money the world's most powerful military – with its tanks, generators, military bases, Jeeps and on and on – must spend on gas every day. Since being the world military leader also empowers you to, say, go out and develop the most advanced hybrid vehicle technology the world has ever seen, it's not too surprising to see the Army putting some of its resources toward building a cleaner, cheaper wheel.
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The FED Bravo builds on the original FED concept shown last fall (the FED Alpha, in true US military fashion), adding mobile power supply equipment – besides running partially on electric power, the FED Bravo can also feed power into a microgrid for use at small military outposts.
In addition to its new role as mobile power station, the FED Bravo uses a completely different powertrain from the Alpha. In place of the original Cummins four-cylinder engine, the Bravo features a more powerful 4.4-liter twin-turbo Ford V-8 worth 268 hp. It gets its green cred from a road-coupled parallel hybrid drive system with a front-mounted electric motor and rear-integrated hybrid system. An engine start-stop system adds further fuel savings.
The Army didn't get into what type of fuel economy we're talking (probably because the fuel economy of a 17,000-lb (7,711-kg) armored truck wouldn't be all that impressive to the average consumer anyway), but when it first showed the non-hybrid Alpha model, it said that it would burn up to 70 percent less fuel than a standard up-armored Humvee. The New York Times reports that the Bravo gets 8.2 mpg (28.L/100 km) city and 14.2 mpg (16.5 L/100 km) highway, about double the numbers for a regular Humvee.
Proving it isn't any compact hybrid sissy, the FED Bravo uses an armored cab atop a tubular space frame designed to increase rigidity-to-weight ratio, not to mention a V-shaped hull for blast protection.
The Army received Department of Defense funding for the project and worked with a group of 18 students from Detroit's College for Creative Studies. The concept was developed at the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Michigan with industry partner World Technical Services, Inc. The Army showed the concept at the recent Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress, which took place late last month.