Posting in Energy
A Boston start-up is banking that rising fuel costs will compel businesses to convert fleet vehicles into hybrids with an aftermarket kit.
An aftermarket automotive start-up wants to make hybrid drivetrains more accessible for businesses that are seeking to manage rising fuel costs in their commercial fleets. Could the consumer market be very far behind?
XL Hybrids, founded in Boston by MIT alumni, is on track to roll out its conversion kit in select markets this year, with a nationwide launch expected in 2013. Its current customers are in pilots, but it declines to name names other than to mention the participation of an "iconic brand."
The kit features an electric motor, lithium ion battery pack, and control software to vehicles. XL's target price is under US$8,000 fully installed. Aftermarket installers make the conversion, and it does not void commercial vehicle warrantees, said Justin Ashton, XL's vice president of business development.
Most class three trucks (light duty trucks and cargo vans) will achieve payback in as little as three years, Ashton noted. "The few OEM hybrids that are available are extremely expensive, and there's no payback on investment."
That's a world of difference from heavy trucks where the payback based on fuel savings is around 23 years. The incremental cost of making a hybrid diesel truck is typically US$25,000-$75,000 depending on the size of the truck.
Some experts in hybrid diesel trucking believe that there is a need for a federal incentive program modeled after the California Air Resources Board's Hybrid Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP).
XL Hybrids' business model is solving what it believes to be a major market need, and doesn't rely upon government subsides. It much more likely that converted hybrids will be on the road before large fleets of diesel hybrids are making long hauls.
There already are a number of hybrid conversion companies located throughout the United States including Michigan's ALTe Powertrain Technologies. Some California companies, including 3Prong Power, convert hybrids into plug-in hybrids.
Automakers work with the commercial aftermarket industry, and unlikely to do the same for consumers. However, Americans are keeping their cars longer, and gas pricing are unlikely to fall appreciably. I'm left wondering whether there could be an aftermarket for out of warranty consumer vehicles.
Here's the specs on XL's system:
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May 2, 2012
I guess it is great effort to make the rising costs of fuel more accessible for businesses, I like reading this quality content. http://www.tyre-shopper.co.uk/branches/crosby
This commercial vehicle conversion kit is great! Thanks for sharing this! I have been working with a company called http://www.chassiseng.co.uk for a while and they are experts in commercial vehicle conversions. I am really impressed by this.
My opinion is that further effort must be done to produce a smaller and cheaper aftermarket kit version that any diesel car can install. Even out of warranty cars. People keep cars longer these days. The kit adds value to the car. In countries where fuel is not subsidised as in the US, the kit will make a big difference. Jos?? from Chile.
The 2012 GMC 2500 van quoted gets 14 city/18 hwy MPG. A 25 percent improvement would be 17.5 city/22.5 hwy. With a 31 gallon tank costing $124 to fill at $4 a gallon for diesel a 25 percent improvement in range is the difference between 434 miles of city driving and 542 miles. That 108 miles might be one day of driving for a delivery truck. That is the difference between buying 4 tanks a week verses 5. $124 X 52 = $6,448 saved. With a target price of $8,000 the ROI would be around 65 tanks of fuel saved at current prices.
Wow, 3 years to payback is a pretty good deal if it all works out. Wonder how they got that conclusion? We offer a free hybrid calculator to check out hybrid payback: http://www.evsroll.com/Are_Hybrid_Cars_Worth_It.html EVsRock!
Saw an early prototype of this in use. Very cool. If you are a rear wheel drive car fan you will want one of these for the old Mustang, Nova or GTO to make it more affordable to run.
why the OEM as in automaker just simply produce the EV.hybrid cars in the first place. if the after market kit cost $8000 I bet incorporating all that from the ground up would be at least 1/2 the price. also a less waste as you do not need to throw away a perfectly working ICE and other parts. and instead of diesel for generator, OEM can use flex fuel turbine. much more cost efficient and cleaner as turbine in generator mode will be more economical and cleaner than any ICE(including diesel) and some turbines can run equally well on many liquid and gas fuels with practically no changes to set up at all.
I would love to see this offered as a 4X4 option on any light pickup like the Ram Dakota any small 4X4 SUV like the Ford Escape. They would lose a few hundred pounds just by removing the transfer case and rear drive shaft and installing this instead. The weight loss alone would improve mpg. They would lose even more weight from a smaller transmission if they put a pure front wheel drive power plant in front.