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AFS Trinity Unveils Plug-in Extreme Hybrid at Detroit Show; Ultracap/Battery Combination Delivers 40-Mile All Electric Range

3D cutaway image of AFS Trinity’s XH-150 plug-in hybrid electric car also showing ultracapacitor and battery state-of-charge gauges. Click to enlarge.

AFS Trinity unveiled its Extreme Hybrid XH-150 demonstrator—a stock 2007 Saturn Vue Greenline mild hybrid subsequently equipped with the Extreme Hybrid (XH) drivetrain (earlier post)—at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

In just-completed testing at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds in South Carolina, the XH-150, which uses a combination of ultracapacitors and batteries for energy storage, achieved an all-electric range of 41.9 miles and a top speed of 87 mph. In acceleration testing, the company reports an all-electric zero to 60 mph time of 11.6 seconds. In full hybrid mode, 0-60 time was 6.9 seconds. AFS Trinity calculates that the XH-150 plug-in hybrid SUV achieves 150 MPPG (miles per petroleum gallon).

The demonstrator vehicle unveiled at the Detroit show is one of two developed by AFS Trinity and built by Ricardo under contract that were ready for testing in just five months. 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 ultracap/Li-ion for the XH).

The addition of the XH system—absent any weight optimization—added 1,000 lbs to the weight of the vehicle. The Ricardo/AFS Trinity team managed to package the entire additional system in the existing Vue without major physical changes, aside from dedicating the trunk space to the energy storage system and charging interface. The company is not, at this point, releasing specs on the ultracapacitors or the lithium-ion pack.

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—is the one in which the XH-150 accelerated 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.

Batteries work best when they provide a slow, steady flow of electricity. Offering enough power for fast acceleration is difficult and damaging to batteries, and this is especially true as batteries become deeply discharged.

The most common solution is to employ many more batteries and simply shallow-discharge them, which is impractical for all but expensive, exotic vehicles. Instead, the Extreme Hybrid accesses AFS Trinity’s long history of developing Fast Energy solutions for NASA, the US Department of Defense and others. At the heart of this new Fast Energy technology are patent-pending control electronics to cache power for short periods in ultra-capacitors and provide this power in bursts for all-electric acceleration that is better, in many cases, than the internal combustion engine of the host vehicle. Until the Extreme Hybrid, hybrids have resorted to gasoline to satisfy acceleration demands.

—Edward Furia, AFS Trinity CEO

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.

According to AFS Trinity CEO Edward Furia, the next step for AFS Trinity is to license its technology to carmakers who want to incorporate the XH drive train into their vehicles.

That would be our preference. However, if carmakers decide not to take advantage of this offer, AFS Trinity intends to raise the funds to begin modifying existing hybrids or manufacture its own 150 mpg SUV’s and, eventually, 250 mpg sedans. We believe such production models could be available for sale in three years.

The SUVs that we just completed that were outfitted with the XH drive train could have been any SUV made by anyone. The XH is a new generation of plug-in hybrid drive train ready to multiply the gas mileage of any SUV or any standard sedan.

—Edward Furia

On a mass-production basis, AFS Trinity calculates that the current XH system represents an $8,500 production cost to an OEM.

AFS Trinity is a privately-owned Delaware corporation headquartered in Bellevue, WA, that is developing Fast Energy Storage and power systems for vehicular, spacecraft and stationary power systems utilizing batteries, ultracapacitors, and flywheels. The Company has conducted programs with private and government organizations including DARPA, NASA, the US Navy, US Army, US DOT, California Energy Commission, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Lockheed, Honeywell and Ricardo.

The XH project originally examined using flywheel storage for fast energy storage in consumer cars, but the team moved on to ultracapacitors after recognizing the additional dimension of complexity the flywheel system currently would entail. That does not preclude coming back to flywheels in the future for passenger vehicles, Furia said.

Although AFS Trinity is not currently using flywheels in systems that are designed for consumer cars, it is actively engaged in developing flywheel power systems for Formula One Racing (F1) and is currently also engaged in developing such a system for one of the world’s top F1 teams. American Flywheel Systems, Inc (AFS) received the first patent ever given for a flywheel battery in 1992 and merged with Trinity Flywheel Power to create AFS Trinity Power in 2000.




They did a news article on CNN recently where the reporter got behind the wheel and was impressed with the acceleration and quietness of the car.

The CEO said that it was made with off the shelf components and if any car company wanted to make them, they could. The rest is up to the buying public.


Yet another maybe in three years, or ten years---whatever. By the time a real plug-in comes to market I'll be too old to drive.


$8500 is still quite a bit of fuel (~2800 gallons) even at today's prices.  But if we taxed fuel with all its costs (environmental, military, etc.) I'll bet that the $8500 would be cheaper for the country.


There may be enough people that would pay $30k to save $2-3k per year. If $4 gas is in our future, this type of car could have good resale.

AFS and Ricardo are going to the Detroit auto show this week to see if auto companies are interested. If they can not generate enough interest, they intend to raise the capital and do it themselves.


The first few gas shortages due to "Peak Lite" aught to convince some people that these cars are worth the extra bucks just for transportation reliability alone. (what's the price of gas that isn't in the pumps anyway)

Herm Perez

with the proper batteries you dont need the ultracaps and the added expense/bulk... witness the Killacycle using A123 lipos.. those cells can deliver insane amps.. I use them routinely in RC planes at 20C discharge rates.. other people use them at 40C rates.. and they are easily recharged in 10 minutes and still deliver 1000 cycles.


>There may be enough people that would pay $30k
>to save $2-3k per year. If $4 gas is in our future,
>this type of car could have good resale.
I for one am really interested. The Vue is big enough to
fit a family of 5 which I have and thats important to me.
Saving 2 to 3K per year makes it an easier choice. This seems like the right blend of electronic components and cost to make it possible for me to make a green choice.
Too bad GM cant think of these things and make them
cheaper by volume.


I wonder what this kind of tech could do for the Volt?


Dr. Andy Frank at U.C. Davis showed that this was all possible more than a decade ago. CalCars pushed the plug hybrid idea years ago. It takes the major automakers and/or major capital to make this happen.

I would pay $30k for an SUV that paid for the increase in price in less than 5 years. I think lots of people would be interested if there was a resale market with good prices, the batteries lasted more than 10 years or 100,000 miles and they did not cost more than a few thousand dollars to replace.

The trade in value for a 2002 Prius with 75,000 miles on it in Good condition is more than $10,000. (www.kbb.com) Considering that the Prius sold for a bit more than $20,000 new and it saved $5,000 in fuel costs over those 5 year, I would say that was a pretty good deal.


This is again something that is at least 5 year away from reality. Even their own website indicates that the projected cost of the technology is based on estimated cost of components in 2015. This is just hype. It would be the same as Toyota making a statement that they will have 150 mph hybrid in 2015 for $8000 for than a regular ICE car based on projected development and cost of battery technology. In their case, it would be credible, as at least they have a track record.


There is a market for PHEVs even if they cost $10,000 more than their non-hybrid counterpart. The PHEV is a better car simply because it is less noisy than a pure ICE vehicle. That alone is worth the extra money for millions of vehicle consumers. And then of cause you have a car that will run even in the event that gas suddenly is not available because of war or oil-boycotts. In addition you can brag about being greener than other drivers. You can even brag about being more patriotic than other drivers because you are doing your part to secure energy independence and creating jobs locally instead of sending the money abroad where they may even end up supporting terrorists and nations opposed to democracy. The saved money on gas is not the number one selling point to begin with. It is all the other issues.


Hear, hear, Henrik.

Every time I see American flag bumper stickers on a speeding 4x4 pickup, I want to grab the driver by the collar and yell at him "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!"

Time to get some "I support terrorism (Ask Me How!)" bumper stickers printed up to slap on those monstrosities.


It seems that ever since the 80s we have been on an economic ONLY analysis binge. The cost benefit ratio that excludes externalized costs has become common place. We still have a green in your pocket versus a green for the planet mentality and it will be with us for quite some time. But, when you consider all the other bonuses to doing something beneficial on a large scale about the transportation fuel issue, you do some good in addition to doing well.


This a good techibal acheivement but why the hell they do it on a SUV ? please NO MORE SUV ! like they mentionne the performances will be much better on a sedan and would make it possible in a foreseeable future when it is unlikely to happen considering an SUV (1000 pounds of battery and generator and motor on top of 5000 pounds, forget the energy efficiency). Remember that even electricity means Coal and lot of greenhouse gas

Now for 5 family members I would fisrt answer that any responsible individual shouldn't consider to have more than 2 kids given that the overpopulation of is our major problem moving forward, and second a well hachback can do the job of carrying 5 persons in perfect confort and safety but with a better fuel efficiency than an ugly and dangerous freaking stupid SUV.



I took a look at the 2007 versus 2008 Saturn VUE. The 2008 is more expensive, added more horsepower, added more weight and gets less mileage.

This is not the direction I think they should be headed right now. They probably wanted to compete with RAV-4, CR-V, Escape and others by making it more powerful, but the interior room is actually slightly smaller.

Maybe the engine and transmission were heavier, but adding more than 500 pounds does not seem like the way to go.

2008 4 cylinder FWD VUE is 3825 lbs.

2007 4 cylinger FWD VUE is 3292 lbs.


>2008 4 cylinder FWD VUE is 3825 lbs.
This might be because they are going back to metal
panels. They Saturns which made space frame has decided to
engineer in Europe and go back the metal. I am not sure if there is a weight difference but there might be. As far as size, that would be extremely disappointing. It was the only MPV/mini SUV that could seat 5 comfortably.
I have tried them all and most are so compact that you can only squeeze 4 people inside.
The combination of ultra capacitors with batteries sounds like a fantastic idea. Wonder why it wasnt done before? I would think they are using Maxwell capacitors but who knows. Off the shelf.. Wonder if Phoenix would pick up on this? They have an electric vehicle already.
As far as getting one. It seems the only way to get a functional electric car is to build one yourself.
Disappointing at best. Although GM is spending money on engineers will they make product?



"I took a look at the 2007 versus 2008 Saturn VUE. The 2008 is more expensive, added more horsepower, added more weight and gets less mileage.

This is not the direction I think they should be headed right now."

This is the reason I did not buy a second Saturn car. They did the same thing to their car line.


and then Saturn rubbed it in our faces by calling the new car the "Ion" !!!


I would like to make a correction:

2007 4 cylinder FWD VUE is 3292 lbs. (manual transmission)

2007 4 cylinder FWD VUE is 3362 lbs. (automatic transmission)

2008 4 cylinder FWD VUE is 3825 lbs. (automatic transmission)

It is still an increase of almost 500 pounds. I suppose the body panels played a large part in that increase.


The AFS CEO said that the caps looked like "an 18 pack of Red Bull cans shrink wrapped". AFS has some kind of patent on their technology. It might be just the charge handling and power distribution, but they want to license it.

Healthy Breeze

So...we're back to weight, cost, efficiency and soft benefits like bone-jarring acceleration, coolness, patriotism, and guilt(or not).

If we make the base car lighter, then all the drive-train components can be lighter. If we make the car lower profile (not SUV or minivan), then we can reduce the amount of horsepower needed for cruising. All of this lets us shrink the engine, batteries, ultracaps, transmissions, etc. even more. That ought to save money on every which part of the car and get the cost down more. I think if you're going with a parallel through-the-road PHEV, you want just enough ICE HP to cruise at 65, and everything else electric. 6.9 sec 0-60 is a little unnecessary for a family cruiser, eh?

Anyway, how many people would pay an extra 5K to buy a Camry that got 200 mpg?

Healthy Breeze

Oh...and how come no one is challenging the 150 mpg claim?

Are we talking +40 miles from the electric socket in your garage (which had to come from somewhere), +10 from regenerative braking, +40 from running a generator at constant RPM to charge the electric system? Where does the total 150 come from for such a heavy, high-Cd, high frontal cross section vehicle?


I found the provisional patent application:

Bender, Donald Arthur (San Ramon, CA, US)
Application Number:
Filing Date:
Publication Date:
View Patent Images:

A quick scan gave me the impression that they are trying to patent their way of handling the cap, battery and controller current flow.

Green Destiny

Adding "lightness" is perhaps the most expensive single objective in auto manufacturing. It has been far easier to meet ever increasing NVH, performance and safety standards by adding more mass, while maintaining profit margins.

Thin cars often mean thin profits. We should not forget the purpose of the auto industry.


While "adding lightness" certainly helps, I recall that GM engineers found while working on the Volt that aerodynamics are far more important than weight when it comes to range and mileage for electric vehicles due to the regenerative breaking.

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