‘Totally green’ vehicle is powered by an electric motor

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

At first blush, the Rapid Armored Tactical Vehicle looks like others of its type – a flat paint job – in this case, black; big military-grade tires, armor plating, with a chassis that can be configured to adapt to mission requirements.

This one is different, said James Bailey, the owner, designer and builder, but not so much as to make it too arcane for any good motor pool mechanic to maintain.

Built on the chassis of a Ford 550-series truck, its primary source of power is a 500-horsepower, 6.7-liter Ford Powerstroke diesel engine.

It weighs 20,000 pounds.

What sets it apart from virtually any other vehicle, Bailey said, is the new hybrid option.

He designed and incorporated a 200-horsepower electric motor that is roughly two and a half feet long, which charges lithium ion batteries.

"It’s totally green," Bailey said.

"It can climb 40-plus degrees, go zero to 60 miles per hour in 12.5 seconds, and run at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour," Bailey said, standing near the vehicle as it sat on display at the Norhurst Professional Services booth at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, held Oct. 22-24 in Washington.

In its hybrid configuration, it averages 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 miles per gallon on the highway.

"That’s pretty good for a 10-ton vehicle," Bailey said.

Marketed in collaboration with Norhurst, which also is based in Danville, Va., the Rapid Armored Tactical Vehicle offers a protection level B7 – which means it can stop a .50 caliber ball round and is equipped with blast protection underneath its chassis.

It also features a dual armor layer completely around the vehicle, separated by a two-inch layer of foam.

The foam layer provides passengers extra protection against "spalling" – the potentially lethal fragmentation of metal inside the cabin which can occur when a round strikes the plating on the exterior, Bailey said.

Solar panels mounted atop the vehicle supply power to a proprietary heat-exchange and cooling system, as well as an automatic window-tinting system for solar blocking.

With a silhouette slightly larger than a Humvee, the Rapid Armored Tactical Vehicle can carry 12 people in the jump seats, or 10 soldiers with gear.

The hybrid vehicle displayed on the AUSA exposition floor is the only one of its type.

But Bailey and Tim Norton, Norhurst’s managing director of operations, said it is a demonstrator and not a prototype.

The vehicle works as designed and advertised, and there is no need to conduct further tests on its basic configuration, they said.

Most interest in the vehicle has come from foreign countries to date, including France, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Kuwait, Bailey and Norton said.

Some representatives from U.S. vehicle companies stopped by their display. U.S. military interest has come from the special-operations and special-purpose communities, they said.

The Rapid Armored Tactical Vehicle carries an average price tag of about $250,000 – less than half the price of an up-armored Humvee, Norton said.