Connaught Engineering has introduced a retrofit mild hybrid system for application in light commercial vehicles. The Hybrid+ system uses supercapacitors and a compact CVT drive between the engine and the 48V motor/alternator. The system can potentially deliver fuel savings of between 15-25%, depending upon driving cycle and traffic conditions.
The CVT drive functions as a torque multiplier. The motor is rated at 23 Nm of torque, but with the CVT gear ratio—2.5 to 4.1 depending upon the power train—the effective assistance can be up to 80 Nm, according to Tony Martindale, CEO of Connaught Engineering.
We classify this as a rapid transient hybrid system. It demands everything all at once, and has extremely rapid regen. On regen, we can overspeed the motor using the CVT with a different ratio and get a lot of amps out it. That's one reason for the supercaps.—Tony Martindale
Tesco.com is the first customer for the Hybrid+ systems. The company will initially equip seven Ford Transits within their home delivery fleet with the system and run them in a trial over the next six months. Should the trial be successful, Tesco will progressively fit the balance of the Transit fleet with its technology.
The Hybrid+ system originated with the development of the hybrid powertrain for the Connaught Type-D h sports coupe, the company’s original primary focus. (Earlier post.)
The Connaught Motor founders, Martindale and Tim Bishop, secured the Connaught brand and formed the company in 2002, targeting the sports coupe market because of increasing demand in the sector across Europe. To secure a niche within that niche market, they decided to craft a car that would balance performance, economy and interior space. After evaluation, they opted for a 2.0-liter V10 hybrid powertrain.
As they were working on the design of the Connaught mild hybrid system on a Ford 2.0-liter engine last year, Martindale said, they had a “Eureka moment—why the hell aren’t we doing this on everything?” That was the inspiration for commercializing the Hybrid+ retrofit system, and for the spin-off of Connaught Engineering into a company separate from Connaught Motor. Connaught Engineering will focus on the Hybrid+ system and on R&D; Connaught Motor will focus on the vehicle.
Commercial vehicles are an attractive target for retrofits because there is more package space available.
Connaught is not implementing stop/start on the initial batch of retrofit diesel systems without OEM approval due to concerns over the potential impact on emissions. And Connaught is just doing diesel at the moment. The company is considering using two different supercap systems depending upon vehicle use.