When someone like Mahindra & Mahindra is chipping into hybrid-electric technology, you pause and take notice. And take notice you will if you happen to be straddling about the Mahindra pavilion at the Expo; for you will see the familiar XUV 500 skinned, covered in transparent overlay and advertising diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system.

The technology isn’t new, mind you; the same principle has been used in the country in much bigger dimension by the railways. The diesel locos that we petrol-heads gawk at have been using the very same ‘hybrid’ system for many a long years.

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The Hybrid XUV uses something called as “permanent magnet synchronous motor” and lithium ion battery to supplement fossil fuel energy for vehicle propulsion. What it means is that the diesel mill in this hybrid is connected to an electric traction motor, which gets its power from the battery to help the diesel mill to move the vehicle.

The same traction motor turns into an electricity generating dynamo when the vehicle is coasting along comfortably and frugally on diesel. The same traction motor also produces additional electricity when the vehicle is braking; pretty much the same as the modern diesel-electric locos. The technical term is ‘regenerative braking’ if you are interested in the techy stuff.

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When you need more torque and speed, both diesel and electric work together to give you the pep, and when you are not pressing hard on the accelerator, the dynamo produces electricity and stores it back in the bank of lithium-ion batteries. Slick, ain’t it?

Mahindra claims 18% higher fuel efficiency through this system and the XUV500 Hybrid also happens to be the first diesel-electric personal vehicle in the world.

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Haven’t a clue right now as re ‘when’ and ‘how much,’ but you bet we are following this development closely.

Complete Coverage of Auto Expo 2014


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