The Army Humvee, designed to be this military branch’s workhorse vehicle for moving troops around, is anything but fuel efficient. In keeping with a prevailing theme of efficiency and alternatives to oil as future solutions to energy security, the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) has been working with partners to develop the Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator (FED) as a next generation vehicle that, among other items, gets better gas mileage. In order to drum up awareness of FED, TARDEC recently undertook a west coast tour for media and community groups, including stopping by Jay Leno’s Garage.
FED Bravo, which is the second generation of development for this concept vehicle, got the shakedown by Leno and his crew last month. Bravo has been around for a bit, turning up at the end of last April at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2012 World Congress in Detroit – though its not clear if what the Army is showcasing right now is that exact vehicle since the one displayed back then had a hybrid powertrain.
Prior to Bravo’s debut, FED Alpha was getting a shaking down in Army testing grounds in 2011, at the time being touted as having all the capabilities of an up-armored Humvee, but burning about 70 percent less fuel in the process. One thing which did carry over from Alpha to the model being shown to Leno was a a solar panel on its rear hatch that can recharge its electrical system.
Ricardo, a Michigan based consultancy, has been helping out with the development of FED and detailed what’s in the most current vehicle’s mix of technologies and tricks as relates to fuel savings. These items include:
- a Cummins I4 engine with a supercharger that’s been recalibrated specifically for tactical vehicle fuel efficiency using military fuels.
- Goodyear Fuel Max low rolling resistance tires specifically designed for it.
- A lightweight aluminum structure, armoring and underbody blast shield that support and protect the vehicle while reducing weight.
- An improved driveline that utilizes a unique carrier and differential assembly, including nongeared hubs and isotropic superfinished gears to reduce friction between gears and increase fuel efficiency.
- An accelerator feedback pedal and fuel economy display to inform drivers how to operate the vehicle to produce the best fuel economy.
Leno took the FED Bravo for a spin around Los Angeles during a late night driving test. His general impressions of it seemed to indicate favoritism. As he spoke of the Humvee replacement he was accompanied by Army General Dennis L. Via and Chief Engineer Dr. Grace Bochenek. Not your usual vehicle he would explore with his audience, but one that nonetheless continues to convey a general idea of where ` the military is heading with regards to cleaner technologies.