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Chrysler Developing “Hydraulic” Hybrid Drivetrain

Maker also planning more conventional hybrids for new 300, next-gen minivans.

by on Jan.19, 2011

Chrysler's minivans will get a new hybrid driveline in 2013, said CEO Marchionne.

With the help of the EPA, Chrysler plans to develop an unusual “hydraulic” hybrid system that could prove particularly effective at bumping up the fuel economy of its larger passenger cars and light trucks.

The maker intends to have the new technology ready to demonstrate by 2012, about the same time it will begin rolling out a new, more conventional battery-electric hybrid system that will first appear on the new full-size 300 sedan and various Chrysler minivans.

“Hydraulic hybrid vehicle technology is one more promising path worth pursuing in the effort to reduce our carbon footprint, and we are excited to partner with the EPA to push forward on this track,” said Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, during an appearance at the Environmental Protection Agency lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he met with EPA Director Lisa Jackson.

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Hydraulic hybrid systems are not entirely new, having found use in industrial applications, including large delivery trucks.  Where conventional automotive hybrid systems recapture energy normally lost during braking, storing it in an onboard battery pack, hydraulic hybrids use a pump to store energy in a special accumulator, at pressures of up to 5,000 psi.