A small startup company in Loveland, Colorado is working on what it hopes will be the keys to the Automotive X-Prize. Lightning Hybrids is building a pair of vehicles, one with three wheels and the other with four, that use a biodiesel-fueled hydraulic hybrid powertrain. Not a lot of details are available right now, but from what can be gleaned on the website, it appears to be a series hybrid system with a compact 90 hp two-stroke diesel engine paired with a hydraulic drive system. The site lists total power of 90 hp from the engine plus 150 hp from the hydraulics for a total of 240 hp. Depending on how the system is configured and how the creators are calculating the number, that may be inaccurate. If the diesel engine is driving a hydraulic pump, the total would not be additive since energy transformation is occurring.

The car itself also has some issues. Judging from the renderings, the designers have neglected to peruse Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for items such as headlight height, mirrors, or much else for that matter. The first prototype is currently under construction and the company hopes to have volume production going in 2010 with a three wheeled version selling for $39,000 and the four wheeler for 59,000. With items like a carbon fiber body, both of those will be a stretch.

[Source: Lightning Hybrids]