BAE Systems Sees Demand Rise for Hybrid-Electric Combat Vehicle

BAE Systems Plc (BA/), Europe’s largest defense company, may upgrade its CV90 armored vehicle with a hybrid-electric propulsion system as armies look to cut expenses for fuel that can be many times the price paid at a civil gas station.

“A requirement we are seeing more and more often is environmental issues in terms of fuel economy,” Dan Lindell, CV90 platform manager, told reporters yesterday at a briefing in London. That’s driving BAE’s upgrade plans for the armored fighting vehicle first developed for Sweden in the 1980s.

The Swedish military, which has deployed the CV90 in Liberia, has seen fuel costs of about $107 per liter while operating in Afghanistan, while U.S. forces reported even higher costs owing to the logistical burden to get gas on site, Lindell said. That’s making fuel efficiency more important for customers when they set demands for equipment, he said.

“I would not be surprised if we see a CV90 with hybrid electric drive in the near future,” Lindell said. “We are talking 10 percent to 30 percent fuel reduction.”

Fuel efficiency is not the only or even primary benefit, he said. The hybrid-electric approach would also provide a power boost to get the 30-ton vehicle moving.

The hybrid electric combines a standard diesel engine with a battery pack to provide extra power to propel the vehicle or provide additional electricity. The technology may form part of a BAE push to win a contract for about 600 vehicles in Poland with local supplier Polish Defence Holding, Lindell said.

Lowering Cost

The hybrid technology is derived from the now-canceled SEP vehicle program in Sweden, Lindell said. Work the company has done for commercial applications of the hybrid-electric system, used by Finland’s Konecranes Oyj on a lift truck, will reduce cost, he said.

The hybrid-electric approach for the CV90 differs from a concept BAE is proposing from its U.S. unit as part of the Pentagon’s 70-ton Ground Combat Vehicle program intended to replace Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, he said.

The hybrid-electric concept could provide sufficient electrical output for developments of the CV90 as militaries add power-draining computers and sensors. The engine technology may also find an application on the BvS10 all-terrain armored vehicle, he said.

BAE is still pushing sales of standard CV90s, and a decision is due in Canada soon for at least 108 armored fighting vehicles.

Denmark, already a CV90 customer, may buy as many as 450 vehicles in a competition that includes General Dynamics Corp. (GD) and Rheinmetall AG. (RHM) BAE’s Armadillo bid would be the first CV90 export in a multirole application without a gun turret, and that may draw new customers, Lindell said.

Other sales opportunities are emerging for the CV90, which has already sold to Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland, he said, while declining to identify the potential buyers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Wall in London at rwall6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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