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XL Hybrids to display retrofitted hybrid Chevrolet 2500 Cargo Van at MIT Energy Conference

XL Hybrids, Inc., a company that has developed a low-cost hybrid electric powertrain designed specifically for class 1-3 commercial fleet use (earlier post), will display a Chevrolet Express 2500 cargo van fitted with the company’s hybrid technology at the 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Conference Energy Showcase on 16 March.

The XL Hybrids powertrain consists of a 2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, a 40 kW (53 hp) electric motor and a proprietary hybrid control system that operate seamlessly with the OEM internal combustion engine and automatic transmission.

The company says that its hybrid powertrain increases the EPA city fuel economy by 25%, which can provide a three year payback without government incentives, or immediate savings when combined with vehicle financing. Benefits of the hybrid powertrain include:

  • It is designed for rapid installation—less than four hours—in commercial vehicles without modifying or removing the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) engine or transmission.

  • There is no additional charging infrastructure or significant impacts to routing or cargo capacity, making XL Hybrids’ solution suited for commercial vehicles that operate under a high daily mileage in urban or suburban areas.

The hybrid powertrain is currently available for the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana 2500 cargo and passenger vans, and the company is expanding the product lineup to include other makes and models of fleet vehicles, including Chevrolet and Ford vans and pickup trucks.

XL Hybrids was started by MIT alumni who collectively have founded four alternative energy companies. XL Hybrids president and founder Tod Hynes is also a co-founder of the MIT Clean Energy Prize, and XL Hybrids co-founder Justin Ashton was a finalist in the 2008 MIT Clean Energy Prize for a water desalination startup, Nanopur.



Good idea, but how much can ~50 hp/54 lb-ft peak(~25 continuous?) actually affect a 300 hp, 6,000 to 14,000 truck.

Justin Ashton

For real world applications it is peak torque that matters not peak power. The motor has a 4x1 fixed speed transmission, so it puts out 240 lb-ft of torque in comparison to an engine with 295 lb-ft. That means it can have a big impact. Also, electric motors can provide full torque at low speeds, so they are ideal for urban/mixed drive cycles, where most of these service vans operate.


"..increases the EPA city fuel economy by 25%, which can provide a three year payback without government incentives.."

"It is designed for rapid installation—less than four hours—in commercial vehicles.."

They have emphasized the key points. I looked at truck/van retrofits years ago and came to the conclusion that the individual would not do this, but fleets might.

If you run a delivery service around town and need a large van, this could help. A few government incentives for less imported oil and cleaner air and it just might go.


People are missing the fact that this motor SUPPLEMENTS the existing engine, it does not replace it.

50 HP is more than enough to drive a delivery truck under a great many conditions, especially creeping in traffic and slow cruising.  If the main engine can be shut off during deceleration and sitting still, large fuel savings would be expected.

Henry Gibson

A vehicle stuck in traffic on a motorway requires no horsepower to move it and very little to move it slowly. Much gasoline would be saved in the US California if every automobile had an electric motor to have it creep slowly in traffic with the engine turned off. This would also improve traffic flow. One horsepower can move any delivery vehicle at low speeds.

Take the average published figures for fuel economy on the highway and you will be surprised at how low an average horse power is actually used. At 35kWh per gallon and a max 20 percent efficiency for a net 7kWh per gallon and 5 miles per kWh (CALCARS), you get 35 miles per gallon, so going 70 miles in an hour is 14 kW average.

This said, hydraulic hybrids should get most of the fuel economy funding not electrics or even ethanol; as the efficiency is nearly doubled without any battery just small simple steel tanks. See ARTEMIS. ..HG..


I read how many millions of gallons were wasted in L.A. alone each year in traffic, it was amazing. Some might say that we should not have that traffic in the first place, but the fact is we do.

I am an advocate for EVs with range cruise control, which handles the speed of the vehicle in stop and go freeway traffic. Just not having to go between the accelerator pedal and brake pedal over and over would reduce stress and driver fatigue.

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