NEW CASTLE, Pa., March 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Axion Power™ International, Inc. (OTC QB: AXPW), the developer of advanced lead-carbon PbC® batteries and energy storage systems, announced today that it has, following the signing of a Letter of Intent dated October 15, 2012, commenced a strategic relationship with privately held Florence, KY-based ePower Engine Systems LLC. ePower specializes in the retrofit and conversion of diesel-powered Class 8 trucks into fuel-saving hybrid powered units. ePower Engine Systems has consented to a five year initial term with Axion Power that includes the exclusive use of Axion's PbC® batteries, and battery management systems, in all ePower retrofits and conversions. Axion Power International's Chairman and CEO Thomas Granville said that the first truck to be outfitted with a PbC battery string has been completed and is now on the road going through its final test procedures. The truck, a Peterbilt 386 was outfitted with 56 PbC batteries operating in a string configuration and incorporates Axion's proprietary Battery Management System and data logger. ePower's proprietary, patent protected, diesel electric hybrid drive train, with the PbC batteries, efficiently powers the converted vehicles, and is able to reduce fuel consumption through the unique application of power sharing between engine and batteries. "Our PbC batteries and management system, together with the ingenuity and intellectual property of ePower, are cutting fuel consumption by a significant factor," Granville said. "Our early testing has gone well and has demonstrated an ability to increase miles per gallon by more than 35%. We believe, and more importantly ePower believes, that with improved synergy of function between the proprietary hybrid drive train and our PbC batteries, that improvements in miles per gallon exceeding 50% can be achieved. As more trucks are outfitted, we will be significantly decreasing carbon emissions and saving money for truck operators, who will be paying for far fewer gallons of fuel.