Automotive X-Prize Profile: Lightning Hybrids

Over the next few months and at a casual, intermittent pace, I’m going to use this blog to profile official contenders in the Progressive Automotive X-Prize. I’ll provide links so interested readers can explore them further, and I encourage you to post your opinions of each contender, their technologies, and how you think they’ll do in this extraordinary competition.

This entry looks at Lightning Hybrids out of Colorado.

Lightning Hybrids

Vehicle name: LH4 and LH3

Fuel(s): Biodiesel and hydraulics

Class: Mainstream (LH4)

In the Mainstream class “specifications [are] derived from typical existing small, 5-passenger economy mixed-use vehicles.”

Class: Alternative (LH3)

The Alternative class is “An outlet for innovation, with fewer performance & design Restrictions.”

Key Technology

Lightning Hybrids is covering their bases by entering one vehicle into each class. The vehicles share plenty in common with one another.

The FH4, which debuted at the 2009 Denver Auto Show in April, is a 4-seat compact sports sedan with a carbon fiber body, a chrome moly and carbon fiber suspension, and an aluminum engine. The drivetrain combines a 90 hp proprietary 2-cycle biodiesel engine and a 150 hp hydraulic pump for a total 240hp output.

LH4 [From their website]

The FH3 is a 3-wheel commuter vehicle with a carbon fiber body, a chrome moly and carbon fiber suspension, and an aluminum engine. The drivetrain combines a 90 hp proprietary 2-cycle biodiesel engine and a 150 hp hydraulic pump for a total 240hp output.

LH3 [From their website]

Both vehicles claim 0-to-60 acceleration in 5.9 seconds, a .20 coefficient of drag, and a fuel efficiency of 100 mpg on biodiesel. The proprietary hydraulic storage technology involves a carbon fiber accumulator operating between 5000-7000 psi that both stores energy from regenerative braking as well as provides for the vehicle's speedy acceleration.

Goal

Both vehicles stress thermodynamic and hydraulic systems, lightweight mechanical and composite structures, and the visual appeal of a sports car. They aim to make the FH3 market-ready by 2010 and the FH4 by 2011 or 2012 for costs ranging between $39,000 and $59,000.

Leader

Daniel S. Johnson. This company CEO is half gearhead, half entrepreneur. Educated in Mechanical Engineering at Arizona State and earning a Master's from Colorado State University, Johnson spent his youth restoring cars of all makes and models. In 1992 he founded SARobotics, a multi-million dollar Colorado-based specialty tooling company for which he developed numerous hydraulic robotic systems, among other things. Today he's an acknowledged expert in carbon fiber and hydraulic design and manufacturing.

Financial backing

Sponsors include EBS Carbon, Dupont, National Instruments, Diversified Machine Systems, and Mastercam, among others. They are currently offering a number of sponsorship opportunities.

External links

This site follows the emergence, application and development of transportation innovation. Reference to manufacturers, makes and models, and other automotive-related businesses are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement by FutureCars.com.