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Volvo testing a prototype of the KERS system right now

Some exotic race cars have been using a KERS system to store and then release power back to the driver in certain instances as a sort of “boost” function. KERS technology is now starting to come to the street and Volvo has a working prototype using the tech.
However, Volvo isn't using the tech just to improve performance; it is using the tech to improve fuel efficiency. According to the automaker, KERS can reduce fuel consumption as much as 25 percent. In addition to improving fuel economy, Volvo says that the KERS tech can also reduce production costs compared to traditional hybrid systems.

Prototype Volvo S60 with Flybrid KERS system

Volvo has test fitted what it calls a “Flybrid” KERS to the rear axle of a S60 to assist the gas engine that drives the front wheels of the car. It captures kinetic energy typically lost from braking and sends it to the flyweel. 150 watt hours of energy can be captured in only 8 seconds, and the energy can be stored for up to 30 minutes or used immediately.

The KERS system – which spins its flywheel at a maximum of 60,000 rpm in a true vacuum and can deliver 80hp -- can be used to knock 1.5 seconds off the car's 0-60 time or in an economy mode to reduce pollution.
The entire system only weighs about 130 pounds, which makes it much lighter than a traditional electric motor and NiMH/Li-ion battery packs used in hybrid vehicles. For example, the batteries alone used in Volvo's current hybrids weigh 660 pounds. 

Flybrid KERS (Kinetic Recovery System) 

The prototype KERS systems won’t reach production in its current form. A production version of the system will see a similar flywheel and transmission attached to a front wheel drive-based transmission. 

Sources: Autocar, Top Gear

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By Johnmcl7 on 3/26/2014 11:09:51 AM , Rating: 3
Mazda have implemented a small scale ERS in their new 6 (the European ones anyway, not sure if that model is in the states) that uses a small capacitor that's charged up and then used to power the electrics in the car at times when the engine isn't needed for motion (decelerating, car is stopped etc.)

The economy gains aren't huge (47mpg for the two litre 163bhp petrol engine vs 35mpg for the 2.5 litre 167bhp petrol engine it replaces, both normally aspirated) but the system seems small and reasonably simple allowing it to be fitted to most of the range as standard.

Although diesels can offer better mpg, in the EU at least they're getting increasingly complicated to deal with emissions regulations which in turn hampers their reliability. I've just bought my first petrol for that reason as I've had enough of the DPF and EGR systems even though I was very careful not to use the car for short trips.

By tat tvam asi on 3/26/2014 12:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
Mazda IELOOP has some side benefits too: it reduces wear of brake pads due to regenerative braking (as with a regular hybrid)... it also prolongs the life of the battery.
I would love to see this in a Mazda-2, as it makes more sense to augment a small engine with an an additional energy source like a supercap. I would also love to see this technology become cheaper and ubiquitous.
Unfortunately, EPA ratings currently don't give credit for this (I am told), but real world mileage will definitely be better.

By Alexvrb on 3/26/2014 11:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
EPA ratings are based on manufacturer-reported test results (with spot testing from the EPA which I wish was more aggressive), not "credit". If it really helps so much, it'll show up in testing and thus impact the numbers you see. The fact of the matter is that if you want to have a significant impact on mileage, you'll need a lot more energy capacity from an array of supercaps (or an advanced Li battery) and an electric motor so that they can use the energy they capture to *gasp* turn the wheels.

IELOOP might help a tiny bit more if you drive like a grandma on an empty road, though.

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