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Cobasys Batteries for Azure Hybrids

Azure Dynamics, a provider of hybrid electric vehicle systems for commercial fleets, has selected Cobasys as the source for its NiMH battery packs for the production of up to 2,000 series hybrids for Purolator Courier in Canada. Cobasys is a joint venture between ChevronTexaco Technology Ventures—a subsidiary of ChevronTexaco—and Energy Conversion Devices (Ovonics), the latter being the creator of the NiMH battery.

Azure is also working with Canada Post, London Taxis International, Leyland Product Development, Renault Trucks UK and the United States Postal Service on various hybrid implementations.

Azure is a systems integrator rather than a manufacturer. Its patented (three filed, two pending, more to be filed) expertise is in the controller system software and hardware, and the company partners with a variety of component suppliers. Azure executives like to say their company uses the Dell Computer model—Azure controls optimization expertise, IP and customers while using existing customer manufacturing and delivery infrastructure.

For Purolator, Azure Dynamics is combining its Smart Energy Management System with ZF Sachs’ hybrid drive. (Azure and ZF Sachs announced strategic alliance in which ZF Sachs will adapt its electric traction drive and generator technology specifically to Azure’s hybrid electric smart energy management system. The resulting components will be co-branded as ZF Sachs Azure.)

Cobasys will supply its liquid-cooled NiMHax 336-70 battery module for this Purolator project along with installation and technical support for the production of hybrid vehicles. The 336-70 is a 336-volt NiMH unit with 70 kW of power output, designed for use in light truck hybrids.

Purolator’s agreement with Azure specifies the delivery of 2,000 vehicles over 5 years starting in the first quarter of next year. There are to be 30 pre-production vehicles delivered starting at the end of this year. Field tests of the hybrid prototypes yielded a 50% increase in fuel efficiency and a concomitant 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this year, Purolator also entered into a multi-year, $3.08 million (Cdn) initiative with Hydrogenics for the development and demonstration of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and on-site hydrogen production, storage & refueling/dispensing in a commercial fleet environment.


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