This Million Dollar Military Vehicle is an eBay Surprise
At any given time, the Department of Defense pursues dozens of clandestine research projects—sometimes building drone boats, other times designing self-steering bullets. Oddly enough, this is said to be the result of one initiative in the '90s aimed at building an off-road reconnaissance vehicle. It’s known as the Mongrel, or by its official term, the “Hybrid Electric High Mobility Scout Mongrel.” Construction of the military vehicle began in 1997 thanks to a $748,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant. In 2003, a further SBIR grant of $730,000 would polish off this racy prototype. All told, that puts development of this off-road contraption at a cool $1.48 million. Today, it’s up for sale on eBay with bidding hovering around the $3,760 mark.
If you’re thinking, “hmm…that doesn’t look far off from a Baja racing truck,” you’re on the right track. The Mongrel military vehicle was designed to tackle rough terrain at high speeds, and it did so through the use of a front-and-rear swing-arm suspension. Two different damping setups were developed—a coil-over magnetorheological system and a compressed fluid-damper layout—both providing active response to the changing terrain.
Its second innovation comes in the form of hybrid drive. The Mongrel sported 100kW electric motors at each wheel that drove geared hubs, which could be adjusted to allow for higher speed or low-end power. A 1.9-liter Volkswagen turbodiesel engine and onboard generator served to replenish the hybrid’s batteries once they ran low. It’s a setup not unlike today’s series hybrid passenger vehicles.
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Despite the fact that this prototype never made it to mass production, that doesn’t equate it to a flop. The Mongrel is essentially the military vehicle equivalent of an auto show concept car, and it provided Army test crews a look into advanced hybrid and suspension designs. It wasn’t far off target either. Even the newly-approved Oshkosh JLTV sports an optional hybrid drive system.
Unfortunately, this prototype is a bit of a fixer-upper. According to the owner, the Mongrel was stripped of its interior after government testing concluded, in addition to its off-road bumpers, generator, and other essential running gear. Though it is cool.
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