The US Military’s new humvee prototype, the FED ‘Alpha,’ consumes 70% less fuel than previous models. And yes, even 6.8 MPG will save millions on overall fuel costs.

Anyone delivering fuel to the battlefield understands just how important these savings are. On the field per gallon fuel costs can exceed hundreds of dollars, and delivery requires a whole slew of support personnel, equipment, and vehicles.

“…the most-delivered asset on the battlefield is fuel. And, if you think about the way an army operates, everything has to be carried with it. The less you have to carry, the less logistical footprint you make, the better.”
-FED team leader Carl Johnson

That’s why the military is looking for new alternatives, like the Fuel-Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator–or FED for short–which incorporates the latest concepts in vehicle design to create a more fuel-efficient and battle ready humvee. Engineers on the project were required to focus on both fuel savings and and safety, and they didn’t take any shortcuts.

“At the end of the day I didn’t cut any corners. I didn’t roll out the University of Michigan solar car. This truck can still do the same things a Humvee can do – only 70 percent more efficiently. And I’m comparing it to the M1114 that was developed back when I was in elementary school.”

The FED Alpha is uses a Cummins 4-cylinder 200-horsepower diesel engine that’s coupled to six-speed transmission (older humvees are three-speed), a lightweight aluminum frame (except for the armored cab and blast shield), a rear-mounted solar array to recharge electrical equipment, and low-resistance tires (which alone create a 7% efficiency gain). The FED program is also developing a ‘Bravo’ model, which should have been tested by now but hasn’t been declassified yet (to our knowledge), that will have a hybrid-electric drivetrain.

The best part may be the vehicles’ fuel-economy feedback mechanism, which jiggles the accelator when the operator is driving inefficiently. A bad driver can wipe out half of that 70% fuel economy increase, Johnson says.

All fantastic stuff, although we’d be remiss not to point out that the current model Humvee, the M1114, gets in the neighborhood of 4 MPG. A 70% increase is only 6.8 MPG.

Not fantastic, even by American standards, but if these savings were spread across the entire fleet it could still amount to massive fuel savings. If  just the low-resistance tires from this model were used fleet-wide for example, it would create about $45 million in annual fuel savings.

[Sources: Gizmodo, US Army, TARDEC, CorpMagazine. Photos: Army.mil, TARDEC]