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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.




Here is what the company press release has to say about the 150 mpg figure.

"...the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 78% of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day."

"...more than 150 miles per gallon of gasoline based on the EPA Combined Urban/Highway Driving Cycle with 6 days per week of 40 miles per day in all electric mode and one day at 100 miles with assistance of the gas engine."


I am not saying that I agree with their reasoning, but that is their story.

Healthy Breeze


Thanks for digging that up. There needs to be an apples-to-apples way of comparing PHEVs efficiency claims. Otherwise, a BEV with a tiny vistigal gas engine could claim infinite MPG.

What if there were 2 numbers. Kilometers/WattHour and Mpg? Ok, there would probably need to be 3, or an elegant way of combining them, so that vehicles with superb regenerative braking could show their combined cycle system efficiency.

Anybody think they have the best way to summarize PHEV total energy efficiency?


The only rating I can see that wouldn't create total confusion and opportunities for misleading the public would be a two part rating: All electric range / charge sustaining mileage rating.
E.G. the Volt might be 40/35 (40 mile all electric followed by 35mpg after electric range used up)
This allows customers to figure out what the mileage is for their personal driving habits.


To me it is what costs to drive where I want to go. This is the 340 miles per week of 40 miles per day for 6 days and 100 miles on the 7th day.

XH150a RX400h Vue Greenline Tahoe Hybrid

Weekly Gas Cost
$7.93 $47.60 $45.77 $59.50

Weekly Elec, Cost
$7.56 $0,00 $0.00 $0.00

Total Weekly Fuel Cost
$15.49 $47.60 $45.77 $59.50


Harvey D


You got it right. Too many of us look at electrified and more efficient vehicles with $$ signs based on fuel cost only.

All other 10+ benefits are too often completely overlooked.

Somebody should quantify ($$ wise) all other HEV/PHEV/BEV benefits over a 10+ year period. It would help (many) to decide which vehicle to buy.

greg woulf

Like it or not, change starts with $$. To get a 100,000 drivers in EV's it's going to have to be worth it financially at no cost in comfort.

That's why I'm a huge fan of the Volt.

This car looks great, I'm glad they built it, but it doesn't talk about cycle life, battery performance over time or anything that shows any faster implementation in production over GM's goals for 2010.

More competition is better, I hope all cars come out with a 40 mile plug in. Right now the only one I'd buy is the Volt.

Frank Flesch

The entire issue for me is - Can we end our dependence on foreign oil with little to no increase in overall cost. Even though the full story has not been disclosed on this endeavor it looks like a very good step in the right direction. We have fought for independence in many past wars. I think it is high time that we fight for the independence from foreign oil!


Retrofits run into problems with engine-driven pumps for air conditioning, power steering and power brakes. Vue Green Line has electric power steering and (I think) brakes. It also has some sort of mode for climate control when the engine is off, though I think the main A/C compressor is still engine-driven. Anyway, it's clearly more retro-fit friendly than a non-hybrid. Unfortunately very few Green Lines exist, so a retrofit program will have limited impact.

If we mandated electric A/C, steering and brakes in all cars we'd have the option of a huge retrofit program down the road if oil got REALLY scarce. The cost would be minimal. Hmmmmm.

bob jones

I was at a car show not to long ago and saw a elect. car, it was a 68 mustang with a elect. motor and that is all. and the engine compartment was empty,I don't know that much about elect. but why can,t you mount a wind generator or two, to generate elect. while driving?
The by product of driving is wind ,it seems that would charge the batteries while driving..
That would lighten the car and put no additonal deamans on the power train.

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