[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
PHEV powertrain company ALTe in new commercial vehicle JV in China with Henan Benma; target 10K units/year
March 21, 2013
ALTe Powertrain Technologies (ALTe), developer of a range-extended plug-in electric hybrid vehicle (PHEV) powertrain for light commercial fleet vehicle applications (earlier post), will establish a new commercial vehicle manufacturing Joint Venture with the Henan Benma Company (Benma) in the Henan province of China.
Henan Benma was originally part of a $200-million “mega JV”—MESA Industrial Technology Corporation—announced in August 2012, which would have seen the opening of four factories in 4 provinces in China. (Earlier post.) However, that structure with became unwieldy, explained John Thomas, ALTe Chairman, President and CEO. Two investors split off from the original 4 entity investor group. MESA is still moving forward as a powertrain entity with just one lead investor based in Beijing, Thomas said, while Henan Benma, which was part of the original MESA deal, moved out to do a specific and higher level vehicle OEM deal with ALTe in their province.
Axion Power and ePower Engine Systems enter 5-year agreement for use of PbC batteries in diesel-electric drivetrains for Class 8 trucks; tests suggest up to 35% improvement in fuel economy
March 04, 2013
Axion Power International, Inc, the developer of advanced lead-carbon PbC batteries and energy storage systems (earlier post), has entered a strategic relationship with ePower Engine Systems LLC. ePower Engine Systems specializes in the retrofit and conversion of diesel-powered Class 8 trucks into series hybrid-powered units inspired by the diesel-electric drives in locomotives—i.e., the diesel engine powers a generator that in turn provides power directly to the traction motors.
ePower Engine Systems has consented to a five-year initial term with Axion Power that includes the exclusive use of Axion’s PbC batteries, and battery management systems in all ePower retrofits and conversions.
XL Hybrids enters installation and distribution partnership with Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products; expands hybrid drive system to Ford E-series vans
February 28, 2013
|XL Hybrids hybrid drive unit in place. Click to enlarge.|
XL Hybrids, Inc., developer of a low-cost hybrid electric powertrain designed specifically for class 1 to 3 commercial fleet use (earlier post), signed a non-exclusive installation partnership and distribution agreement with Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products (CVP), one of the top commercial vehicle upfitters. Leggett & Platt CVP will incorporate XL Hybrids’ hybrid powertrain directly into its existing ship-thru process, thus providing a one-stop shopping experience for commercial fleets.
The two companies will display a hybrid cargo van upfitted with XL Hybrids’ parallel hybrid powertrain technology at the Leggett & Platt CVP Booth at the 2013 NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Indiana next week.
Johnson Controls to supply Li-ion pack for XL Hybrids aftermarket system; Class 1 to 3 commercial vehicle hybrid electric powertrain
August 20, 2012
XL Hybrids, Inc., developer of a low-cost hybrid electric powertrain designed specifically for class 1 to 3 commercial fleet use (earlier post), signed a one-year supply agreement with Johnson Controls, Inc. for 1.8 kWh Li-ion packs for use in XL’s aftermarket hybrid conversion system.
The packs, with a peak discharge power rating of 50 kW and nominal voltage of 260V, will use high-power, spiral-wound Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA) cells to power light-duty commercial vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans. The cells, modules and packs will be manufactured at Johnson Controls’ Meadowbrook facility in Holland, Mich, says David DeGraaf, vice president and general manager of the Americas’ original equipment business at Johnson Controls Power Solutions.
Battery-switchable electric Commodore breaks 24-hour world EV distance record
August 09, 2012
|EV Engineering fit the battery pack in the engine compartment of the Commodore to enable switching. Source: EV Engineering. Click to enlarge.|
The battery-switchable fully-electric Holden Commodore developed by EV Engineering in Australia (earlier post) recently unofficially broke the distance record for a production electric car, achieving 1,886 (1,172 miles) kilometers of driving over a 24-hour period.
A team of 16 engineers and technicians from EV Engineering and its member companies began the attempt at 1 pm on Saturday 21 July, supported by a team in the workshop operating the semi-automated switch station that switches a depleted battery for a fully-charged one. Each team member drove one loop of 122 kilometers (75.8 miles) on public roads between Port Melbourne and Geelong, with the distance record beaten at 10:08 am on Sunday 22 July.
MTSU group seeking to commercialize new wheel motor plug-in hybrid retrofit kit
July 25, 2012
|A prototype plug-in hybrid retrofit kit is applied to a research vehicle’s rear wheels. After switching on the traction motors, the vehicle fuel economy increased from 50–100%. Click to enlarge.|
A group at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), led by Dr. Charles Perry, who holds the Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence, has developed and demonstrated a proof-of-concept for a wheel motor plug-in hybrid retrofit kit for almost any car.
The core of the system is a new wheel motor invented by Perry and Paul Martin III; four patents are pending. They took the space that exists around the rear-wheel brake structure and packaged in a 3-phase DC brushless traction motor on each rear wheel. The stator magnets are packaged all the way around the backside; these are electromagnets switched on and off at the proper intervals as controlled by three Hall effect sensors. An array of 40 permanent magnets are on the backside of the rotor.
EMD selects Ioxus 3,000F iCAP ultracapacitors for hybrid conversion system for trucks
July 18, 2012
|Components of the emDRIVE MD system. Click to enlarge.|
Ioxus, Inc., a manufacturer of premium performance ultracapacitor technology (earlier post) is providing ultracapacitors to ElectroMotive Design LLC (EMD), an engineering services company and a manufacturer of hybrid electric conversion systems for Class 2 through 8 buses and trucks.
Ioxus’ ultracapacitors are used for energy storage in EMD’s emDRIVE systems, which come in a range of sizes. emDRIVE lite is available in two sizes to accommodate vans and buses with GVW’s ranging from 6,000 to 14,000 lbs. emDRIVE MD is available in two sizes to accommodate vans and buses with GVW’s ranging from 14,000 to 19,000 lbs. Each system utilizes similar core architecture and control components.
Independent testing shows 21.2% reduction in fuel consumption with XL Hybrids retrofit system
June 25, 2012
|The XL Hybrids system in place. Click to enlarge.|
Testing at an independent EPA-certified vehicle laboratory showed a 21.2% reduction in fuel consumption achieved with XL Hybrids’ aftermarket hybrid electric powertrain (earlier post) on a light-duty cargo van on the UDDS cycle (urban conditions). The company had been targeting a 20% reduction.
The tests were conducted on a light-duty chassis dynamometer test cell featuring a twin-roll Clayton dynamometer. The testing process compares fuel economy performance from the vehicle in its original condition with the performance using XL Hybrids’ charge-sustaining hybrid system. The test was completed using a Chevrolet 2500 Express cargo van fitted with the original equipment manufacturer’s 4.8L engine and 6-speed transmission.
CA Energy Commission awarding Wrightspeed $5.789M grant for retrofit range-extended electric powertrain for medium-duty commercial vehicles
June 22, 2012
|Wrightspeed’s Geared Traction Drive integrates an electric motor, a two-speed gear box and an inverter. Source: Wrightspeed. Click to enlarge.|
The California Energy Commission CEC is awarding Silicon Valley startup Wrightspeed a $5.789-million grant for Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing. The grant is part of the CEC’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. CEC also awarded $1,815,123 to Zero Motorcycles; $10 million to Tesla Motors; and $2,230,595 to Quallion LLC out of the same program.
The CEC grant funds are to accelerate manufacturing of Wrightspeed’s Route retrofit powertrain for the medium-duty commercial fleet market (earlier post). Funds for Zero Motorcycle are to expand its manufacturing capability in California; Tesla’s award is for the manufacturing line for the upcoming Model X; and Quallion’s funds are to expand battery management system integration facilities for lithium ion battery modules.
CNG vehicle converter BAF acquires auto emissions solutions provider ServoTech Engineering
June 11, 2012
BAF Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., has acquired ServoTech Engineering, Inc., an auto emissions solutions provider. BAF, the leading US provider of natural gas vehicle systems and conversions, recently produced its 20,000th compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle conversion. BAF is the first CNG converter to be recognized as a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) for gaseous fuels.
Dr. Hamid Servati, ServoTech’s current president, will continue to lead the new BAF subsidiary’s operations. As a Ford Qualified Calibration Modifier (QCM), ServoTech has direct access to the Ford engine calibration strategy. Each vehicle converted by BAF is registered through Ford Quality Fleet Care (QFC) for all warranty and service work.
California Energy Commission awards more than $15M to advance biofuels, plug-in and V2G research
May 11, 2012
The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of more than $15 million to projects that will advance biofuels and electric vehicle research in California.
These grants are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program, created by Assembly Bill 118 (Núñez, Chapter 750, Statutes of 2007), provides approximately $100 million annually to encourage the development and use of new vehicle technologies and alternative and renewable fuels to help attain the state's climate change policies. (Earlier post.) The award recipients are:
Omnitek develops diesel-to-natural gas engine conversion kits for Mercedes OM904/OM906
April 19, 2012
|Diesel to natural gas conversion system. Click to enlarge.|
Omnitek has developed a kit that can be used to convert the globally popular Mercedes diesel engines OM904 and OM906 into natural gas engines.
Omnitek’s proprietary diesel-to-natural gas engine conversion kit is used for bus and truck applications, as well as stationary applications. It simplifies the engine conversion process by integrating the ignition control and electronic fuel injection into one control unit. The system offers closed-loop fuel control for low emissions, as well as J1939 CANbus communications with electronic gauges in the dashboard.