By EV World
Hybrids are starting to catch on not only with consumers but also with the U.S. military who see it as a way to reduce its demand for petroleum, while enhancing its fighting capability. During the automotive panel discussion at the Electric Drive Transportation Association annual conference in Vancouver, Canada earlier this month, Harold Sanborn discussed the U.S. Army's interest in alternative energy, hybrids and fuel cell technologies.
Representing the Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Michigan, Sanborn gave a brief, eight minute overview of his organization's mission. Fittingly, he spoke on December 7, 2005, sixty-four years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, noting that within months of that tragedy, U.S. industry had shifted from peacetime to wartime production in response to the threat from both Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.
While Sanborn does not discuss specific programs, he does encourage the automotive industry representatives present at the conference to consider military requirements when developing new product so that they can profit from "dual-use" technologies.
He stressed that this applies to more than just motor vehicles, but across the spectrum of energy producing and consuming machinery, where there is very little integration or cross-compatibility. He is a proponent of the concept of vehicle-to-grid hybrids, where the motor vehicle can accomplish a wider mission than just moving people and materials.
"I would like to think that the interconnection between utilities, transportation and fuels is going to shift".
A good example is the U.S. Army's hybrid HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) program where the combat vehicle's electric drive system not only provides the vehicle with increased performance -- including stealth mode -- but also can provide the unit with electric power generation to run communications or field hospitals.
Somewhat surprisingly, Sanborn touched momentarily on the question of peak oil and the costs associated with of maintaining the flow of oil.
"Whether you agree that petroleum is going to run out in ten years or fifty years, sooner or later it will get horrendously expensive. The real cost [of oil] isn't calculated when you read it at the pump. There's all these other costs added to it; and that's why a system's approach to hybrid-electric, to electric, to fuel cell vehicles, managing the energy, managing the fuels consumed I think is important and one area where the government can look across the technologies…to accelerate the process for those solutions to get to the marketplace faster and cheaper."
EV World thanks the EDTA for permitting us the opportunity to record selected presentations from the Vancouver conference. Other auto industry panelist to be featured in the near future will include representatives from Toyota, Honda and DaimlerChrysler's GEM unit, along with introductory comments by ECD Chairman Bob Stempel.