|Rendering of the Gen 2 series plug-in hybrid powertrain under development. Source: ALTe. Click to enlarge.
A Bloomfield, Michigan startup is developing light- and medium-duty series plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powertrain systems—initially as conversions, but ultimately extending to an OEM basis.
ALTe, LLC has initially targeted fleet applications—specifically, the New York Ford Crown Victoria taxi fleet—as the passenger car market does not drive enough miles per year to deliver the financial payback on the incremental cost of the conversion, said John Thomas, ALTe CEO, at the Business of Plugging In conference in Detroit last week.
|Gen1 System installed in a Crown Vic. Click to enlarge.
|Gen 2 system in a rolling chassis. Click to enlarge.
ALTe already has Gen 1 proof-of-concept systems running in a Crown Vic taxi equipped with a 20 kWh Li-ion battery pack. In the Crown Victoria, the proof of concept powertrain conversion systems improve fuel economy from 80%-200% from the base 4.6L V8: from 14 mpg to up to 43 mpg, depending on vehicle use. With fleet mileage, ALTe projects ROI on a conversion in less than two years.
|20 kWh pack in the proof-of-concept Crown Vic conversion. Subsequent versions will leave more trunk space for luggage. Click to enlarge.
(Another benefit of targeting a conversion application such as the taxi fleet is that the vehicles are all out of warranty, Thomas noted.)
A Gen 2 Series PHEV Powertrain under development is installed in a running rolling chassis.
Thomas came to ALTe from Tesla Motors, where he was Senior Program Director and General Manager, and was working on “Whitestar”, later revealed as the Model S. Prior to Tesla, Thomas was Director of Special Projects at Magna Steyr, VP and Division General Manager at auto supplier Collins & Aikman, and a powertrain component design engineer and powertrain system project and project engineer for 10 years. ALTe is staffed by traditional auto industry and Tesla Motors alumni averaging more than 24 years of experience at major auto OEMs and suppliers in the US, Japan and Korea, Thomas said.
|“The series plug-in hybrid is the best transitional powertrain technology due to cost and range issues of current battery science.”
Thomas said that ALTe is building a robustly engineered, professional quality, mass production powertrain conversion kit assembly operation and plans to produce up to 90,000 powertrains per year. The company will deliver these powertrain kits to a dealer network to be established.
ALTe plans to develop series plug-in hybrid powertrains for a range of popular vehicles such as taxis, shuttle busses, pickup trucks, SUVs, etc, and is targeting more than $2 billion of revenues within five years.