Mississippi State University squeezes 100 mpg out of hybrid Subaru BRZ

Mississippi State University has turned a regular Subaru BRZ into a lightweight hybrid

Researchers at Mississippi State University have taken a regular Subaru BRZ, ripped out the boxer engine and replaced it with a lightweight hybrid system to create what they call "the car of the future."

It might look like your average Subaru, but under the skin this BRZ has been given a thorough overhaul. The MSU team's cast magnesium subframe is 40 percent lighter than the stock unit, and offers a mounting point for the dual electric motors.

Drive comes from those electric motors at the rear, which draw their power from lightweight batteries that take advantage of proprietary cell cooling technology to work more efficiently. The battery pack from A123 Systems weighs just 374 lb (170 kg), which helps to keep the car's weight to 2,904 lb (1,317 kg) – or about 80 lb (36 kg) heavier than a petrol-only BRZ.

With 12.7 kWh, it's not going to challenge Tesla anytime soon, but it is enough for at least 50 miles (80 km) of all-electric running.

Why is the hybrid BRZ heavier than a petrol car? Because, in spite of the lighter subframe, MSU's car houses two electric motors, a battery and a petrol engine. That petrol engine is a two-cylinder, 850cc unit coupled with a 100 kW (134 hp) generator to act as a range extender when battery power is depleted.

According to its creators, the combination of petrol and battery power is enough to return an economy figure of more than 100 mpg (2.4 l/100km).

Beyond the hardware, there's a torque-vectoring system to enhance the BRZ's handling characteristics with eye-popping grip in tight corners, and control algorithms to recognize driver habits and predict what they're likely to do next.

The hybrid BRZ was shown this month at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit.

A video explaining the car's technology is below.

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