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AFS Trinity, Ricardo Introduce Joint Program for Fleet PHEVs

2 May 2008

Xh
Elements of the Extreme Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

AFS Trinity Power Corporation and Ricardo plc are introducing “Extreme Fleet”, a joint program to build and license special purpose vehicles using specially designed or existing car, truck and SUV platforms using AFS Trinity’s Extreme Hybrid plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain.

The partners say that many fleet operators could save up to 75% of what they are now paying for gasoline and diesel, and reduce fleet maintenance costs. AFS Trinity is bringing its XH-150 prototype to the 2008 NAFA (National Association of Fleet Administrators) Institute and Expo in Salt Lake City that begins on 4 May.

Unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, the XH-150 demonstrator is a stock 2007 Saturn Vue Greenline mild hybrid subsequently equipped with the Extreme Hybrid (XH) drivetrain. As a demonstrator, the vehicle retains the entire original Vue hybrid powertrain plus the XH system—in other words, it has two transmissions (one for the engine, one for the motor) and two discrete energy storage systems (OEM NiMH from the Vue and a combined ultracap/Li-ion system for the XH). (Earlier post.)

The demonstrator vehicle unveiled at the Detroit show was one of two developed by AFS Trinity and built by Ricardo under contract that were ready for testing in just five months.

The Extreme Hybrid Plug-in drive train comprises five primary subsystems:

  1. Grid-chargeable lithium-ion battery pack;
  2. Ultracapacitors for acceleration and regenerative braking;
  3. Advanced power electronics and control software;
  4. Internal combustion engine;
  5. Electric traction motor and generator.

The vehicle has three operating modes:

  • All-electric with 40+ mile range;

  • OEM Vue mild hybrid operation; and

  • Combined full parallel through-the-road hybrid mode. This combined mode—with the 170 hp OEM engine and the 200 hp XH motor for 370 hp combined—allows the XH-150, which weights 1,000 lbs more than the stock Vue, to accelerate from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds.

AFS Trinity built the demonstrator as a proof of concept of its combined energy storage system and management approach to address the limitations of battery storage. By using ultracapacitors as storage and discharge devices for rapid energy, the XH system keeps the batteries within safe resistive heating limits, and supports extended battery life.

Our principal focus remains the elimination of dependence on oil and the reduction of greenhouse gases by providing consumers cars, SUVs and trucks that can go unlimited distances but, which, on many days, will use no gasoline at all because most people drive less than 40 miles a day. However, since unveiling the XH-150 in January, a number of police departments, local government bodies, private fleet operators and federal agencies have approached us about applying our technology to solve their mounting gasoline cost problems.

—AFS Trinity CEO Edward Furia

The new Extreme Fleet program will be headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, USA, with special purpose vehicle development to be conducted at AFS Trinity’s engineering center in Livermore, California as well as at Ricardo facilities in the US, Europe and Asia.

AFS Trinity develops Fast Energy Storage and power systems for vehicular, spacecraft and stationary power systems utilizing batteries, ultracapacitors, and flywheels. AFS Trinity’s patent-pending Extreme Hybrid drive train utilizes ultra-capacitors, batteries and proprietary power and control electronics for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The company is also actively engaged in developing flywheel power systems for Formula One Racing (F1).

May 2, 2008 in Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

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"...or existing car, truck and SUV platforms"

Maybe the Tech Stock Investor comments have merit. Retrofitting would bring the number of fuel efficient vehicles on the road up faster than just new car replacement.

The AFS guys seem really practical to me. They use what is available and come up with common sense solutions. I wish them all the best in this partnership. I would also like to see a dual fuel FFV capability. We would need to streamline the AQMD/CARB approval process, but that can be done.

I like Furia's vision.

I like that AFS has combined the supercap, battery, and control electronics. It always seemed very compelling to me to add those. I suspect if coupled with a very small ICE, and a moderate HP electric motor, the efficiency would be substantial. If you had to downscale any other parts of the system to cut costs, I guess you could make it PHEV 20+ and still get a substantial efficiency boost.

I'm envisioning a mode where the electric motor almost always helps with acceleration, so the ICE can be small, but the ICE is fine for cruise and low-speed recharging. I'm hoping the the supercap cycle will allow more gentle battery discharging, to get by with a cheaper battery, as well.

Is that where AFS is heading? Their demo vehicle seemed to be about excess horsepower.

AFS is heading where ever the customers and market is heading. That should be the goal of any good business. It is not clear that 20, 40 or any number is considered acceptable. It is not clear what acceleration or climbing is considered acceptable. I would say that it is not even clear what mileage is considered acceptable.

Fleet sales and conversions might be easier. You have one central decision point for many vehicles. With individuals it is not as clear. What is good enough for one is not good enough for another. They are referred to as market segments meaning that if you can find enough people to agree within bounds, you may have a segment that you can make a product for.

The vehicle is capable of 150 MPG according to CEO Don Bender. http://www.podtech.net/classic/4883/150-mpg-with-afs-trinitys-phev-technology

The PHEV mileage quotes are suspect. I would go on a BTU/kWh/mile basis, or even a cost per mile basis. They are saying first 40 miles, no gas, next 5 miles gas, we got 150 mpg.

That is a sleight of hand trick and does not serve them well. It destroys what little credibility that they started with.
40 miles per day x 365 days per year = 14600 miles per year. If the average person only drives 15,000 miles per year you could quote a very large misleading number.

Even if the car only got 10 mpg running on the engine, with last 600 miles would take 60 gallons. 15,000/60 = 250 mpg...now who in their right mind believes that?

SJC

I agree that counting the mileage of a plug-in like a normal car is totally misleading as if the electricity to charge the baterry was produced at no cost and without warming emissions. If tomorrow most of cars where PHEV the cost of electricity will undoubtadly be higher since it would boost the demand for electricity and the price would follow as the demand for natural gas and cold would soar.

Half of the electricity in the nation comes from coal and half in the west from natural gas. Hydro and nuclear have their place. Wind and solar are catching up. But it all costs per kWh. Coal is the cheapest, but we can not continue to spew out all that stuff and let someone else pay for it.

I like the idea of PHEVs, but they have to be considered for what they are, a nice innovation that will help. There was a story about an energy station in San Diego that sold 9 types of energy. Regular, mid grade, premium, diesel, biodiesel, E85, propane, natural gas and electricity. This may be the way of the future.

Hybridization (PHEV) Kit:

Does anybody have more information on the MIRA (Motor Industry Reasearch Association of England ? ) hybridization kit using 2-35KW rear wheel electric motors, (3 ea.) modular-removal Li-On phosphate battery packs + control system etc for about any recent front wheel vehicle?

This kit (un-installed) would sell for about $4K US.

According to MIRA, a compact car retrofited with this kit used 61% less fuel and produced 39% GHG.

This Kit can turn just about any recent front wheel drive vehicle into a 4-wheel drive PHEV.

The modular (3 plug-in modules) battery pack approach in very interesting. Larger vehicles could be converted to PHEVs with larger or more energy storage modules and larger motors etc.

Converting or retrofitting 100+ million existing compatible front wheel vehicles (in USA) to 4WD PHEVs may be the quickest and cheapest way to reduce liquid fuel consumption and GHG while creating a few million new jobs. If applied worldwide, it could make a difference and reduce pressure on oil and food price.

Who could produce the material, specially the battery modules, fast enough?

I have my doubts about their claims. When you go through the numbers, you end up with about a 5 year payback on conversions in the U.S. It remains to be seen if a lot of people will pay $5000 up front to save a $1000 per year for 5 years on a less than new car.

Now in other countries, where they pay $8-$9 per gallon, the payback is quicker. I would say that they would sell well there. You run into so many DOT, NTHSA AQMD, CARB and other regulatory bodies in the U.S. that it is a daunting task to bring out anything that modifies a vehicle from the factory stock approved condition.

SJC;

The 5-year pay back period could be reduced with high fuel price (and it will come) together with a national incentive program of $2K to $5K per vehicle converted based on fuel consumption reduction achieved.

Of course a progressive gas tax increase (something like 5 cents/gal/month) could help to finance the incentive program and to convince more people to get it done.

Harvey,

I doubt we'll see a progressive gas tax in the near term. When we tax carbon, I suspect petrol will be one of the last to get a carbon tax, on the reasoning that there are already many federal taxes on petrol.

That said, I like the idea fast tracking retrofit modules for specific cars (highest-selling, lowest current mileage first) and providing a tax incentive to do it quickly.

Here's where I agree with SJC. To get certified retrofit modules, you'll almost certainly have to work with the existing manufacturers, who will have scant motiviation to help unless, 1) they resell the modules, and/or 2) They get credit towards their cafe standards for each module sold.

Can you think of any other way to fast track the retrofit modules?

Healthy breeze:

One may get the Big-3+ directly involved (plus others) in the retrofit PHEV program.

This way, some of the experience gained may be used to manufacture new PHEVs and BEVs.

We could set things up that streamline the process of retrofits. AQMD talks about NG trucks and cars and then makes it almost impossible to market a kit to do that. Most kits are sold in India and Pakistan, can not be imported and can not be installed here.

If we want to make real headway, we will have to streamline the process. It is one thing to talk the talk, but now we need to walk the walk. Either lead or get out of the way, but so far we have neither. Clean air and less oil will not happen by themselves and talking it to death will not bring it about.

1,000 lbs heavier?

It's not the answer.

If AFS abandons flywheels for supercaps in cars, there are few others who will try them, but a mechanical system by FLYBRID seems to be being tested. A good flywheel system, not run near the limits of its strength, will still have more energy than UltraCapacitors of the same weight, and the power can be made as high as is actually needed by the use of pure copper, no iron and Halbach magnet arrays. ..HG..

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