By DoD News
By Gary Sheftick
The Army has temporarily halted its testing of a unique fuel-efficient tactical vehicle so it could be shown to senior leaders and displayed in the nation’s capital.
The Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator, dubbed “FED Alpha,” is on display this week in the Pentagon courtyard for an Energy & Sustainability Technology Fair. Last week it was on the exhibit floor at the 2011 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.
The concept vehicle has a solar panel on its rear hatch that can recharge its electrical system. It also has a custom engine, transmission and a score of other features that dramatically increase its mileage per gallon compared to other Humvees.
The vehicle has all the capabilities of an up-armored Humvee, but burns about 70 percent less fuel, said Steve Kramer, an engineer with the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as TARDEC, headquartered in Warren, Mich.
Kramer has been involved in designing the FED Alpha for the past three years. TARDEC is working with Ricardo, a British company, on the testing phase of the vehicle at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
The FED Alpha may never be mass produced as is, Kramer said, but added that he hopes many of the energy-saving features can be priced low enough to make it onto the next generation of tactical vehicles.
“Hopefully the technology on here can get back into the force,” he said.
The FED Alpha features a Cummins turbo-charged 200-horsepower 4-cylinder diesel engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and low-rolling resistance tires.
The low-rolling tires alone provide an estimated 7 percent fuel reduction. While officials said that percentage may not sound like much, if applied to the Army’s entire tactical vehicle fleet, it would add up to about $45 million in fuel savings annually.
The vehicle also has a gas pedal that provides the driver feedback if the vehicle exceeds the recommended fuel-efficiency speed. The pedal vibrates and provides force against the driver’s foot, but if it’s mission-essential to increase the speed, Kramer said the driver can punch through the feedback and continue the mission.
The FED Alpha also has:
- A high-efficiency 28-volt integrated starter-generator that enables electric accessories and 20 kW of onboard power for equipment
- A lightweight aluminum structure, except for the armored cab and underbelly V-shaped blast shield
- An improved driveline that uses a unique carrier and differential assembly, including non-geared hubs and isotropic super-finished gears to reduce friction
Since July, the FED Alpha has been undergoing testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The Aberdeen Test Center Roadway Simulator is validating the fuel economy of the vehicle.
ATC is the world’s largest automotive test simulator and is designed to perform vehicle dynamics, powertrain performance, shock and vibration testing in a laboratory environment. It enables the FED Alpha to be tested in a controlled environment so small changes in fuel economy can be verified.
ATC will test the FED Alpha in convoy operations, urban assault, cross-country trips and extended idle situations.
A second vehicle, the FED Bravo demonstrator, is scheduled to be completed by late November or early December, Kramer said.
The FEB Bravo will be a hybrid-electric drive vehicle. It should undergo shakedown testing in Michigan before Christmas, Kramer said, and head to Aberdeen Proving Ground for testing in early spring.