Chrysler, EPA Work on Hybrid Minivan

Chrysler and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are working together to develop a hydraulic hybrid system for minivans.

The company and the agency announced Wednesday that they hope to design and build the gas-efficient model of Chrysler’s popular minivan by November and complete testing by July 2012.

The system could potentially bolster the minivan’s gas mileage by 35 percent to around 27 miles per gallon. That’s up from the 20 mpg the top Chrysler minivan currently gets in combined city and highway driving, AP reports.

The announcement comes as auto manufacturers struggle to meet new fuel economy standards effective in 2016. The regulations call for a fleet average of 35.5 mpg, nearly 10 mpg above the current standards. The government could call for an average mpg as high as 47 to 62 by 2025.

Chrysler, which is partly owned by the U.S. government after a 2009 bailout, is the only U.S. car maker without a hybrid model, and had the lowest corporate gas mileage average of any major automaker in 2009.

The hydraulic hybrid system, which was developed by scientists at the EPA’s laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., uses energy from braking in a hydraulic pressure vehicle. It is currently used in more than a dozen trash and package delivery trucks in Florida and Michigan, and about 50 more trucks have already been ordered.

Chrysler will finance the majority of the project and the EPA will contribute $2 million, Reuters reports.

Categorized | Energy & Fuels
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