MCC smart Introduces Diesel-Electric Hyper

September 25, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

MCC smart (UK) unveiled a prototype vehicle that combines a small diesel engine that powers the front wheels, and an electric drive system that powers the rear wheels built by Zytek Group Ltd. (UK).

Dubbed the smartTMhyper, the vehicle utilizes a twin-drive system, so-developed with DaimlerChrysler AG and Zytek, similar to that in the forthcoming Dodge Durango HEV. Unlike DaimlerChrysler's Through-the-Road hybrid in which there is no mechanical or electrical linkage between the gasoline engine and the electric motor, the twin drive systems of the smarthyper system are electronically interlocked.

The electric drive system propels the vehicle in low speed situations with the diesel engine off, in order to save fuel and reduce emissions. The diesel is automatically shut off and turned back on as needed. The electric drive also operates when the manual transmission electrically shifts gears, creating the equivalency of an automatic transmission, but without the efficiency losses. The Zytek designed-system can supply up to 20kW of power for brief periods of time, giving the car a short ZEV range.

To improve the safety of the hybrid-propulsion unit, the electric drive automatically disconnects in the event of a crash to prevent short circuits. If the air-cooled batteries and controllers or liquid-cooled motor begin to overheat, these systems also automatically shut down, and the car will operate solely on its diesel engine.