XL Hybrids Preps Vans For Pilot Program

By Boston Business Journal

Targeting General Motors Corp. delivery-style vans with an aftermarket electric drive, 3-year-old XL Hybrids Inc. has moved from Somerville to Brighton, where it will be turning gasoline-powered trucks into hybrids.

XL Hybrids has developed a 53 horsepower, 40 kilowatt battery-powered motor, control system and belt-and-pulley system that transfers power to a truckâ¿¿s drive train. That hybrid drive system is designed to cut fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20 percent and provide truck fleet customers with a three- to five-year payback, according to co-founder and vice president of business development Justin Ashton.

The company recently moved to a 10,000-square-foot space on Newton Street in Brighton, where it will build out prototypes. The company plans to collect data on the hybrid vans by equipping about 30 vehicles with the retrofit in early 2012, leading up to a national rollout in 2013.

XL Hybrids conducted proof of concept research by adding its electric drive system to limosines earlier this year.

Ashton said the companyâ¿¿s plan right along has been to target fleets of vans that travel at least 25,000 miles a year in urban areas, supporting businesses such as floral and consumer goods deliveries, and electricians.

⿿We didn⿿t see anyone designing hybrids for this specific market and in a cost effective way, and the keyword is cost effective,⿝ said Ashton.

Ashton, who said the company has brought in $3.8 million in angel investment and from the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund, reported that the purchase price for the conversion kit would be under $8,000. However, the companyâ¿¿s business model calls for it to develop the technology, and then to partner with manufacturers and with companies â¿¿ known as upfitters â¿¿ that do the aftermarket equipment additions to fleets of vans. Ashton said that while most of the vans in the pilot project will be used vehicles, the commercial goal is to have the technology installed on new vehicles.

Ashton said that XL Hybrids is initially targeting GM 2500 series gasoline powered vans such as the Chevy Express and the GMC Savana, and that the company doesnâ¿¿t see GM squashing their market with its own hybrids. He said GM hasnâ¿¿t targeted the smaller van market with hybrid technology, and that if it does XL Hybrids still will have the advantage of several years of market experience and a price edge.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2011/10/17/xl-hybrids-preps-vans-for-pilot-program.html?ana=thestreet

Copyright bizjournals.com 2010

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