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Johnson Controls to supply Li-ion pack for XL Hybrids aftermarket system; Class 1 to 3 commercial vehicle hybrid electric powertrain

XL Hybrids, Inc., developer of a low-cost hybrid electric powertrain designed specifically for class 1 to 3 commercial fleet use (earlier post), signed a one-year supply agreement with Johnson Controls, Inc. for 1.8 kWh Li-ion packs for use in XL’s aftermarket hybrid conversion system.

The packs, with a peak discharge power rating of 50 kW and nominal voltage of 260V, will use high-power, spiral-wound Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA) cells to power light-duty commercial vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans. The cells, modules and packs will be manufactured at Johnson Controls’ Meadowbrook facility in Holland, Mich, says David DeGraaf, vice president and general manager of the Americas’ original equipment business at Johnson Controls Power Solutions.

Johnson Controls’ Meadowbrook facility, which received a $299-million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, produces complete Lithium-ion battery cells and systems for hybrid and electric vehicles. Pack assembly began in September, 2010, with cell production starting in the summer of 2011. Johnson Controls has supply contracts with Daimler, BMW, BAIC, Geely and Odyne.

Our agreement with Johnson Controls, one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, gives our team and customers confidence in the performance and quality of such a critical component as the energy storage system. Purchasing a battery pack manufactured in the USA was an additional bonus as we are committed to supporting domestic production.

—Clay Siegert, co-founder and vice president of supply chain at XL Hybrids

XL Hybrids has already sold hybrid Chevrolet Express vans to some of the largest fleets in the US for fleet pilot testing. The company’s hybrid electric powertrain integrates seamlessly with the original equipment manufacturer’s engine and transmission. By integrating Johnson Controls’ Lithium-Ion battery packs, the system is capable of reducing fuel consumption by up to 21% on urban routes, helping fleet managers reduce fuel costs without added infrastructure or changes to operations.

The hybrid Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans featuring the 1.8 kWh battery pack from Johnson Controls will go on sale in 2013. XL Hybrids will extend its offering to include a full lineup of hybrid makes and models including the most popular pickup trucks and vans.

Our strategy for sourcing components is to work with the top tier component suppliers. As a startup, we manage our risk by working with the best component suppliers; that allows our company to focus on our core inovation, system design, and how get out to the field. It’s a process we’ve learned.

—Justin Ashton, co-founder and vice president of business development, XL Hybrids

The cell and the module technology applied in the pack has been tested and used in other automotive applications, DeGraaf said, but the pack was developed specifically for XL Hybrids.

We tried to use as much core technology as we could. For XL Hybrids [the pack] is optimized for power for an HEV application. We are committed to the [automotive Li-ion] space for the long-term. We work with customers, on their energy or power solutions, and then utilize the core products, what we have developed today at Toledo or Meadowbrook.

—David DeGraaf


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