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Chrysler still working on hybrids

by David Zatz on

Chrysler pHEV hybrid electric minivan

With no new electric or hybrid-electric vehicles coming out of Chrysler, except the Fiat 500e, it may seem as though the company has simply opted out of the field. However, CEO Sergio Marchionne has already suggested that a hybrid-electric minivan may be coming in 2015-2017. The company has been working on various hybrids in a Department of Energy project, as well as evaluating stop-start system alternatives.

One of the problems hybrid car-makers have to face, particularly if their system will go for extended periods without the “fossil-fuel” engine running, is maintaining heat for the occupants on cold days. Patent 8,740,104, from Mark Bigler, Mark Hill, Allan Flanagan, and Joseph Balog, was originally filed back in 2008, but seems to have been updated and was finally issued in June 2014.

In essence, the system adds a controller to operate a pump so that antifreeze can be pushed through the engine and heater core, keeping heat going into the passenger compartment with the engine off. The system would sense antifreeze heat to avoid pushing cold antifreeze around and other usability features.

A more recent patent, filed in January 2012, regards an invention by Joseph Ivacko, Laszlo Hideg, and Salim Hamam, to address issues that come up when the engine switches between engine and electric power. With a normal hydraulic transmission, there are pumps for pressurizing the fluid under primary engine power and under electric power, but moving between the two modes can be a problem, and the auxiliary pump apparently tends to stall at first in cold weather. The invention still uses an auxiliary pump, but matches pressure and has various ways to respond to low fluid pressure.

For pure-electric cars, one may look to Adam Timmons’ 2012 application from September 2012, covering an idea which sought to require lower voltage batteries, since high-voltage (350V or higher) batteries can drive expenses up. Rather than using a conventional DC-DC voltage converter, his setup uses twin buses with capacitors and switches to boost voltage from a relatively small number of batteries, without high expense or waste.

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