We have been talking about hydraulic hybrids for almost a year now; our first introduction to a hydraulic application was actually at the 2009 Denver Auto Show when we found a local Colorado company showing of their new sports car concept. However, the hydraulic hybrid application hasn’t actually been applied to small cars as much as it has been applied to commercial vehicles like garbage trucks. This is where Eaton Corporation comes into the picture.

According to our partners at AllCarsElectric.com, Eaton will begin providing hydraulic hybrid retrofit kits in 2010. The kits are specifically targeted at garbage trucks, including the popular side loading trucks that are used in many urban municipalities. Eaton is calling the retrofit kits a Hydraulic Launch Assist (HLA) hybrid system. The intention of the kits are almost exactly what the name says—a launch assistance to a stopped vehicle.

lightning hybrids hydraulic hybrid sports car 004

lightning hybrids hydraulic hybrid sports car 004

The system can be configured in two ways, for economy or productivity. The economy setting provides up to a 180 hp boost that can accelerate a stopped refuse truck up to 12 mph taking in the neighborhood of 4-6 seconds. Eaton says that this boost in energy provided by the HLA system results in up to a 30% increase in fuel efficiency. To illustrate the savings, if you have a commercial garbage truck that gets 8 mpg on average you would see an increase of up to 2.4 mpg. In addition to the fuel savings, the hydraulic system is supposed to reduce the wear and tear on the braking system resulting in reducing the number of brake services per year.

Bottom line—the Eaton Corporation kit being brought into the mainstream means that the production version of the Lightning Hybrid or other small car hybrid hydraulics can’t be far behind. In fact, we hear the next concepts from Lightning Hybrid will be debuted at the Environmental and Transportation Fair in Denver, Colorado in February.


Be sure to check out all the details on the Eaton Corporation HLA system over at AllCarElectric.com, including more information on the productivity mode.