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 DETROIT, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler Corporation (NYSE: C) may be looking to go major league racing again, but not for the customary reasons.
 Car makers commonly race hoping a win on Sunday will boost their dealers' sales on Monday. But Chrysler is contemplating returning to racing to learn how to better build fuel-efficient, low-emissions cars that are still fun to drive.
 "When it comes to forcing technology and engineers, nothing equals the pressure cooker of motor racing," explained Francois J. Castaing, vice president of Vehicle Engineering at Chrysler. "Going back 40 years, motor racing helped invent some of the technology that we depend on today for safety and emissions -- such as disc brakes and fuel injection. "We still believe there is a vital role for racing to help push technology where its needed."
 To this end, Chrysler will design and build in 1994 a hybrid- powered, liquefied natural gas-fueled race car with an eye to entering the car in select internationally significant endurance races in 1995.
 Chrysler has named its four-wheeled test laboratory the Patriot and pledges that the star-spangled car will not be an under-powered moving chicane that drivers of other cars on the same course will have to slalom their way around.
 The chassis is being built in England by Reynard, one of the most successful race car builders in the world. Reynard will also debut this year at the Indianapolis 500 with several cars, one of which will be driven by Michael Andretti. The Patriot would compete in the new World Sports Car (WSC) class co-conceived by the FIA, which oversees motor racing around the world from its headquarters in Paris, and the International Motor Sports Association, the premier U.S. road-race sanctioning body. The WSC is a prototype class intending to attract cars at the cutting edge of design and technology.
 The Patriot's hybrid powertrain will, its designers are confident, permit the car to run with the leaders of the WSC pack. This means reaching speeds in the neighborhood of 200 mph for short durations. And, although without disclosing specifics -- most of the elements of the car's powertrain are proprietary -- its developers are equally certain its drivers will not be left choking on other race cars' exhaust when exiting even the slowest corners.
 Comprising the car's one-of-a-kind, experimental powertrain are a two-turbine alternator, an ultra-high-speed flywheel and an electric traction motor. All of these components are currently in operational use in some form -- turbine alternators provide electric power to commercial airliners parked at jet-ways; energy-storing flywheels can be found in many common-place applications; and electric traction motors drive some of today's zero-emission evaluation cars.
 But the key to the Patriot's potential as a race car, and ultimately the commercial clean air viability of its hybrid powertrain, is its vehicle management controller. Much like the over-mythologized little black box, the electronic controller will do what's never been done before in coordinating and directing the transmission of power between and among the turbine alternator, flywheel and motor.
 Using constantly changing data bits flowing its way from sensors placed around the car, the controller will always be prepared at an instant's notice to send the demanded amount of power from the most qualified and ready source in the needed direction. This could be from the alternator and flywheel (in effect, an electro-mechanical battery) to push the car to top speed on a long straight. It could be from the motor back to the flywheel during hard braking at the end of the straight to "recharge" the "battery." Or it could be from the flywheel to the motor to propel the car back up to speed out of a slow corner.
 Whichever the case, the controller constantly will be picking and choosing the proper sources and destinations for the various power flows.
 As Castaing noted, it is, in fact, precisely the highly dynamic power demands intrinsic to road racing that make it the ideal proving ground for the Patriot's hybrid powertrain.
 This is because a hybrid powertrain puts to best use the energy from its fuel source when it's operated in a repetitive acceleration and deceleration setting. Also, by entering the Patriot in endurance events, Chrysler expects over the duration of a 12- or 24-hour race, it will find weaknesses and build on strengths in the hybrid powertrain that could otherwise take weeks, months or even years of regular testing and development.
 If the Patriot is successful, people wanting cleaner cars to drive into the 21st century will not be the only beneficiaries. Motor racing, too, will reclaim some of its heritage as a proving ground for tomorrow's technology.
 -0- 1/5/94
 /CONTACT: Mike Aberlich of Chrysler, 810-576-9300/

CO: Chrysler Corporation ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

SB -- DE030 -- 9363 01/05/94 13:01 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 5, 1994

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