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 DETROIT, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler Corporation (NYSE: C) does not believe tomorrow's ultra-efficient and ultra-clean car has to be either slow or boring to drive.
 This optimism has the company considering going motor racing again in the international arena with a multi-year project to design and build a hybrid-powered race car that meets FIA World Sports Car class specifications. If the project, called Patriot, develops as Chrysler's top officials and engineers hope it will, the company will consider entering select high-profile endurance road racing events in 1995 as part of the development process.
 "Chrysler has been anxious to go back to top-level racing for some time," said Francois J. Castaing, vice president of Vehicle Engineering at Chrysler, "but we wanted to send two specific messages when we did. We wanted to be able to reconcile our research on environmental issues with racing -- a subject many people have talked about. And we wanted to use racing once again for the purpose of developing all-new technology that will test the creativity and ingenuity of our people. The Patriot lets us do both."
 The new technology Chrysler is looking to the Patriot project to sort out is a complex hybrid powertrain system.
 The resurgence of interest in hybrid powertrains in recent years for use in automobiles grows out of a potential to be both more efficient and cleaner than the gasoline-burning internal combustion engine. It is this potential that has made hybrid systems a candidate for powering the Super Car the federal government and U.S. car makers have committed to develop by the early 21st century.
 Although hybrid systems themselves can be quite complex devices, the theory behind them isn't. The cleanest and most efficient internal combustion engine is one designed to run at a constant speed. Put another way, the more the engine has to accelerate and decelerate, the more fuel it consumes and the dirtier its exhaust.
 Dedicating an internal combustion engine to running a generator lets the engine operate at an almost constant speed. The electricity from the generator, then, is the "fuel" that powers the car. In automotive applications, hybrid systems also incorporate a battery, either as the primary power source driving the car's electric motor or as a supplemental power source when the generator cannot provide all the power needed.
 Another benefit of dedicating the internal combustion engine to running the generator is that the engine operates only when the battery or the car's motor needs electricity. More advanced hybrid systems also reclaim energy generated when the car is braking to recharge the battery.
 As promising as hybrid systems may sound, they do have drawbacks. At their current state of development, they are expensive, comprising as they do two powerplants; the internal combustion engine and the generator. The electronic controller that routes power where it is needed, precisely when it is needed, and from the best source, is both complex and far from cheap.
 Long trips driven at relatively constant, high speeds are also not a hybrid system's strong point. They work best (that is, get the most out of the fuel they consume) in stop-and-go driving, when power demands rise and fall and when braking energy can be reclaimed. This is why the Patriot will race, if it does, in endurance road races and not on high speed ovals.
 They also are not zero-emission vehicles. Run on the proper fuel, however, which, in the Patriot will be liquefied natural gas (LNG), they can be ultra-low emission vehicles and fuel efficient. The system will also make the best possible use of that fuel's energy, both in generating and storing the electricity produced, and by reclaiming energy that would otherwise be lost as heat generated during braking.
 These limitations on hybrid powertrains' benefits need to be understood, Castaing said, to make sure Chrysler's Patriot project is not misunderstood. The Patriot is independent of the company's work with federal and state clean air regulators on the low and zero emissions cars for California and the Northeast States. And while it may eventually be related to the Super Car venture, that effort is evaluating other powertrains as well. Chrysler also believes it is breaking new ground with the team of internal and external experts the company has assembled to work on the Patriot project.
 The car will be built in Bicester, England, by Reynard, a well-known builder of championship winning cars for the FIA's Formula 3 and Formula 3000 classes. Reynard will also debut this year at the Indianapolis 500 with several cars, one of which will be driven by Michael Andretti.
 A twin-turbine turbo-alternator will power the Patriot. The turbine unit comes from Northern Research and Engineering Corp. of Wobrun, Mass. NREC is highly regarded in the defense industry for its work on nuclear submarines and helicopter jet engines.
 The assembled turbo-alternator and the carbon-fiber flywheel, which will serve as an electro-mechanical battery for the Patriot, will be made by SatCon Technology Corp. of Cambridge, Mass. SatCon designs and builds motion control systems, sensors and actuators used in weapons systems and satellites.
 Cryogenic Experts, Inc. of Canoga Park, Calif., has signed on to build the storage tank for the liquefied natural gas that will fuel the turbo-alternator. The work CEXI has done on such NASA projects as the national aerospace plane, and with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, qualify the company to tackle the job of building a crash- impervious fuel tank that can keep the LNG at its required minus 258 degrees F storage temperature. Westinghouse Electric Corp. of Baltimore will provide the traction motors that will get the Patriot's power to the road, driving the car, if the theoreticians are correct, to speeds in excess of 200 mph.
 In the spirit of the platform team concept that has produced the award-winning cab-forward Chrysler, Dodge and Eagle sedans, Dodge Ram pickup and Neon, Chrysler engineers and designers from the environmental field, the high-performance area, and the future car research group -- "people who traditionally are not likely to work together," Castaing noted -- are joining forces with a small group of key suppliers to see if it is possible to build a "socially responsible" car that is also fun to drive.
 -0- 1/5/94
 /CONTACT: Mike Aberlich of Chrysler, 810-576-9300/

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

KE-RD -- DE031 -- 9366 01/05/94 13:08 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 5, 1994

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