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Efficient Drivetrains launches inline, triple-function, plug-in vehicle drivetrain; announcement on commercial contract coming

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), a developer of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) systems and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) co-founded by Professor Andy Frank from UC Davis (a key figure in the development of the PHEV concept and technology) in 2006, has completed the development and initial functional testing of an inline Parallel-Series-Electric powertrain system that it says is less complex, more efficient, less costly, and lighter than the competition.

The new EDI drivetrain, which incorporates components from GM, A123 Systems, and UQM, was integrated into a light-duty GM pickup truck to create the demonstrator vehicle. The drivetrain, which is scalable to light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications, utilizes no power split gears and features special clutching systems.

EDI designed the drivetrain in an inline form factor to make it highly adaptable to existing front-engine, rear-wheel-drive vehicles, reducing the need to make significant changes to existing vehicle designs. The drivetrain has been in development since early 2011.

The concept leverages EDI IP in the area of hybrid drivetrain design and controls, and has also generated new IP, which will be covered in several new patent applications. Vehicle product testing and refinement will continue over the next quarter.

For manufacturers and consumers alike, this is the most adaptable automatic vehicle drivetrain in the world, and the vehicle has performed extremely well in initial testing. It's scalable, less complex, and lighter than the competition. When conditions warrant, it can operate as either a pure EV for trips around the neighborhood, or as a Series Hybrid, optimum for stop-and-go city traffic conditions, or as an efficient Parallel Hybrid that is ideal for the highway. It also features an EV+ Mode for hill climbing and added acceleration.

—Joerg Ferchau, co-founder and CEO of EDI

We’ve taken a lot of complexity out of the PHEV side of the equation. And because it has an Inline form factor it is highly adaptable to existing front engine, rear wheel drive vehicles, thus reducing the need for significant existing vehicle design changes.

—Professor Andy Frank, CTO of EDI

EDI will soon announce its first commercial contract to implement the system into a full-size, heavy-duty bus project in China, and is also in discussions with multiple OEM truck manufacturers and upfitters at the current time.

Toyota litigation
In July 2011, Toyota filed a federal declaratory judgment action against EDI, seeking certain relief regarding the Frank/UC patent portfolio (File No. 11-cv-03570).
In February 2012, EDI announced it had resolved the dispute with Toyota. The terms of the agreement were confidential, but included an amicable resolution of all disputes related to the Frank/UC Patent Portfolio, and provided Toyota with freedom to operate, according to EDI.

CVTs. Although EDI will develop drivetrain solutions using a full range of transmission options (AT, AMT, MT), it has also developed its own CVT technology which it says can provide significant performance improvements for hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and conventional vehicles. It scales across all vehicle sizes, classes, and configurations.

EDI is targeting its CVTs at both light- and medium-duty applications for either front- or rear-wheel drive; it claims it can support requirements for higher torque ranges and greater levels of efficiency than any other CVT transmissions available in the market today. EDI’s CVT technology includes designs for high efficiency mechanical CVTs, CVT controls, and for the integration of CVTs into a variety of drivetrain and vehicle opportunities.

EDI says that its CVTs are suited for hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles because of the need of those vehicles to shift more often due to switching loads between electric motors and internal combustion engines—and also because of the advantages in having a greater number of power transmission ratios available.

The company also says that its CVTs have the ability to improve pure electric vehicles by providing the ability to support both high speed driving as well as hill climbing, all while reducing stress on battery packs and other high power electronics.



For rear wheel drive (front engine) only?

No details...


Dr. Andy Frank is one of the true inventors of this age. If we didn't cease to honor and recognize the people whose innovations that changed the world, he would be much better known.

As the father of the hybrid and PHEV vehicle, He would be as recognizable as Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison or James Clark Maxwell.


Confusing statements?

Did EDI's or Toyota's 1997 HEVs and PHEVs drive trains come first?

How much of EDI's initial patents is used in Toyota's HEVs and PHEVs?

Regardless of the above, improved trains drains are welcomed.


"..but included an amicable resolution of all disputes related to the Frank/UC Patent Portfolio, and provided Toyota with freedom to operate, according to EDI."

It looks to me like Toyota sued UCD/EDI and ended up having to settle with them. Maybe there IS justice in this world.


In line rear wheel drive is easier to retrofit. Just remove the transmission and replace it with a new kind to increase mileage.


making hybrid trucks is the low hanging fruit if you are interested in improving your fleets economy.

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