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XL Hybrids enters installation and distribution partnership with Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products; expands hybrid drive system to Ford E-series vans

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XL Hybrids hybrid drive unit in place. Click to enlarge.

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 non-exclusive installation partnership and distribution agreement with Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products (CVP), one of the top commercial vehicle upfitters. Leggett & Platt CVP will incorporate XL Hybrids’ hybrid powertrain directly into its existing ship-thru process, thus providing a one-stop shopping experience for commercial fleets.

The two companies will display a hybrid cargo van upfitted with XL Hybrids’ parallel hybrid powertrain technology at the Leggett & Platt CVP Booth at the 2013 NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Indiana next week.

XL Hybrids’ product makes economic sense for our fleet customers, offering a quick payback, along with all the benefits of ship through. The ease of installation is amazing and allows us to drop it right into our existing production process. XL Hybrids has a real winner here, and this partnership provides a great way for our fleets to reduce fuel costs, resulting in total life cycle cost reduction.

—John Forest, vice president of install operations for Leggett & Platt CVP

Also at the Work Truck Show next week, XL Hybrids will announce it is expanding its product line beyond Chevrolet Express cargo and passenger vans to include the Ford E-Series vans. Between those two vans and their variants, notes Justin Ashton, VP Business Development & Co-Founder of XL Hybrids, the company will have access to more than 75% of the van market.

It’s an exciting product announcement for us. We’ve been executing on the strategy to make this a model agnostic powertrain—almost like “Intel Inside”, but of hybrid technology. This is important. For a business like us, it’s all about getting scale and volume, getting over early stage commercialization. By adapting our powertrain to different OEM vehicles, we can get scale across common components.

—Justin Ashton

In 2012, XL Hybrids signed an agreement with Henley Transmission Services, LLC, the largest franchise holder of AAMCO automotive service centers, to certify AAMCO technicians to install and service XL Hybrids’ hybrid-electric conversions. Unlike the new Leggett & Platt partnership, the partnership with AAMCO does not include distribution.

XL Hybrids has from the beginning targeted the aftermarket. Most of the vehicles for commercial fleet customers pass through upfitters to be modified, Ashton says. With a huge supply chain, the upfitters process hundred of thousands of vehicles per year, adding features such as shelving racks, ladder racks, electronics and many other equipment options based on the application. The XL Hybrids system is just one more option that the installers can install; the company has targeted an install time for the system of between 4-6 hours.

XL Hybrids has upgraded its system over the past year of working with customers and partners such as Leggett & Platt. The unit now features a smaller 1.8 kWh battery pack from Johnson Controls that is lighter than the older 2.0 kWh pack (earlier post), and the hybrid control software has matured over the course of the last year with pilot testing. There are no announced changes to the 40 kW electric motor from Parker Hannifin.

In 2012, testing at an independent EPA-certified vehicle laboratory showed a 21.2% reduction in fuel consumption achieved with XL Hybrids’ aftermarket hybrid electric powertrain on a light-duty cargo van on the UDDS cycle (urban conditions). The company had been targeting a 20% reduction. (Earlier post.)

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