Startup Converting Ford F-150s Into 41 MPG Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

  • Published on July 28th, 2008 by
 

F-150

[social_buttons] The 16 MPG  F-150 is one of the most ubiquitous vehicles on the road today. What if you could convert them all to get 41 MPG?

The Illinois Institute of Technology’s masters program has spun-off a start-up with big plans for our aging fleet of big trucks. The company, called Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technology (HEVT), has built a bolt-on module that will convert a standard F-150 into a 41 MPG plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

HEVT demo’d their first prototype at the Plug-In 2008 conference in San Jose earlier in the month. The suddenly attractive F-150 PHEV (which is not the 1994 model depicted above) gets 15 miles of emissions-free driving on electricity before it switches over to gas/electric hybrid mode, where it will continue to get an impressive 41 MPG for a typical day’s worth of driving.





Why Plug-in Hybrid Conversions Matter

Dr. Andrew S. Grove, former chairman of Intel Corporation, said in his keynote address: “Trucks, SUVs and vans are the least-efficient vehicles on the road, so retrofitting them should be a high priority if we want to make a meaningful, near-term difference in oil consumption.  Rapid commercialization of prototypes like HEVT’s is the way to go.”

Adding a hybrid drivetrain to large vehicles was one of GM’s premier concepts at this year’s Detroit autoshow, until sales of new SUV models failed miserably. Retrofitting older vehicles into plug-in hybrids makes perfect sense since they’re already on the road:

“HEVT’s solutions apply to not just smaller passenger cars and hybrids, but almost any vehicle including larger gas guzzlers,” said HEVT founder Ali Emadi. “Our laboratory simulations show that the larger the vehicle, the greater the benefits – in gas costs, particulate and greenhouse emissions, and sound pollution.  For this reason we are currently focused on PSVs and will later expand to school buses as well as transit buses.”

Ok, let me beat you to the punchline. “Typical days driving” means 30 miles in a day, which is the amount most of us drive, on average.

Unfortunately, if you drive more than 30 miles between charges, the straight hybrid mode drops to a paltry 21 MPG. That’s still a 31% fuel efficiency increase over the standard F-150, but HEVT is going to have to bring the price way, way down for this to be an even remote consideration for the vast majority of F-150’s out there. Prototype conversions currently cost $60,000.

HEVT’s Business Plan

Luckily, HEVT has plans to bring the cost down. I know $60K is a lot of money, but keep in mind that it’s impossible to estimate the conversion cost if/when these modules are massed produced or installed by automakers. It also wouldn’t hurt to throw out here that a brand new F-250 costs as much as $100K in the first 5 years of ownership.

HEVT will be starting a pilot demo project that should complete 20-50 conversions by end of year. Once they prove viability, there are two potential business models: a) develop modules that would be sold to partner who would do the retrofitting, or b), sell the modules directly to car manufacturers. It makes sense that they would do both.

HEVT is currently in discussion with unnamed OEM’s and hopes to have the first commercial prototypes out next year. They’re also working on modules for a range of other vehicles including SUVs and transit buses, and in the video (below) they specifically mention Hummer H1’s and Humvees (maybe they should talk to Jonathan Goodwin).

How the Hybrid Conversions Work (+Video)

For their conversions, HEVT is creating a “series parallel hybrid drivetrain” by integrating an electric motor/generator with the F-150’s existing drive train, along with an advance battery that can store regenerative power, and an “adaptive control unit” that optimizes fuel economy and performance. The system has an in-dash monitor to display realtime information.

The video goes into a little more detail:

More On Hybrid and Electric Cars:

Thanks to MPGoMatic for this story.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons





About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.

  • Glad I could help bring this to light. =)

    Don’t get scared off by the $60K price tag.

    This development is merely the first step. The cost per kit will drop dramatically once there’s enough interest to spur mass production. Likewise, the number of miles of pure electric drive-time will rise with more battery power.

    Simply put, the more lithium battery production, the greater the price drop … as foretold by historic drops in RAM and LCD prices.

    It’s a question of parts and smarts. This revolution will be self-starting.

  • Glad I could help bring this to light. =)

    Don’t get scared off by the $60K price tag.

    This development is merely the first step. The cost per kit will drop dramatically once there’s enough interest to spur mass production. Likewise, the number of miles of pure electric drive-time will rise with more battery power.

    Simply put, the more lithium battery production, the greater the price drop … as foretold by historic drops in RAM and LCD prices.

    It’s a question of parts and smarts. This revolution will be self-starting.

  • Glad I could help bring this to light. =)

    Don’t get scared off by the $60K price tag.

    This development is merely the first step. The cost per kit will drop dramatically once there’s enough interest to spur mass production. Likewise, the number of miles of pure electric drive-time will rise with more battery power.

    Simply put, the more lithium battery production, the greater the price drop … as foretold by historic drops in RAM and LCD prices.

    It’s a question of parts and smarts. This revolution will be self-starting.

  • mpgomatic: Thanks for getting this one out there. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

  • mpgomatic: Thanks for getting this one out there. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

  • mpgomatic: Thanks for getting this one out there. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

  • drove a Ford today

    More power to them. I borrowed a friend’s ’95 F-150 today to do some hauling, and I was marveling at what a smooth, sturdy, well-performing vehicle it is. Bumping up it’s fuel economy might help it achieve perfection.

  • drove a Ford today

    More power to them. I borrowed a friend’s ’95 F-150 today to do some hauling, and I was marveling at what a smooth, sturdy, well-performing vehicle it is. Bumping up it’s fuel economy might help it achieve perfection.

  • drove a Ford today

    More power to them. I borrowed a friend’s ’95 F-150 today to do some hauling, and I was marveling at what a smooth, sturdy, well-performing vehicle it is. Bumping up it’s fuel economy might help it achieve perfection.

  • Jim weasel

    Wow, I wish my Jeep would get 41 MPG. Make my day!

    Jt

    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • Jim weasel

    Wow, I wish my Jeep would get 41 MPG. Make my day!

    Jt

    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • Jim weasel

    Wow, I wish my Jeep would get 41 MPG. Make my day!

    Jt

    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • Wm

    I never hear how much these things are going to cost to charge every month. I have no idea if the electrical charge will bring the MPG to 5 miles per gallon.

  • Wm

    I never hear how much these things are going to cost to charge every month. I have no idea if the electrical charge will bring the MPG to 5 miles per gallon.

  • Wm

    I never hear how much these things are going to cost to charge every month. I have no idea if the electrical charge will bring the MPG to 5 miles per gallon.

  • This actually sounds quite promising. Is this something that will be available for even newer model vehicles that are largely regulated by a computer? I’ve got a 5.7 Litre Hemi in my 300c and I would kill to be able to even get 30MPG, but I’m not sure if something like this could mate with an engine that is so reliant on its computer system.

  • This actually sounds quite promising. Is this something that will be available for even newer model vehicles that are largely regulated by a computer? I’ve got a 5.7 Litre Hemi in my 300c and I would kill to be able to even get 30MPG, but I’m not sure if something like this could mate with an engine that is so reliant on its computer system.

  • This actually sounds quite promising. Is this something that will be available for even newer model vehicles that are largely regulated by a computer? I’ve got a 5.7 Litre Hemi in my 300c and I would kill to be able to even get 30MPG, but I’m not sure if something like this could mate with an engine that is so reliant on its computer system.

  • Pingback: Plug-in Hybrid for a F-150 - Diesel Forum - The Diesel Stop.com()

  • Pingback: Plug-in Hybrid for a F-150 - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum()

  • PAUL LEO FASO

    YEA, NICE TRY BOYS, YOUR ABOUT 20 YEARS BEHIND THE CURVE. CHECK OUT TATA INDUSTRIES NEW VEHICLE, THE NANO WITH AN AIR COMPRESSED ENGINE THAT WILL RUN AT 80 MPH FOR 150 MILES, CHARGE UP WITH AIR IN 4 MINUTES. YOU GUYS NEED TO TAKE A HINT, WE NEED OIL LIKE WE NEED CANCER. SO WHAT TO DO? LICENSE THE TECHNOLOGY FROM TATA, INSTALL 2 ENGINES TO DRIVE BOTH FRONT AND REAR WHEELS,2 AIR TANKS WITH AN ON BOARD CHARGING AIR COMPRESSOR TO REFILL THE RESERVE TANK WHILE DRIVING AND NEVER NEED TO STOP. REFINE THE PROTOTYPE AND SELL IT TO THE LAME BRAINS IN DETROIT WHO ARE DRIVING AROUND IN CIRCLES WITH HUMMERS.

    see; http://green.yahoo.com/blog/ecogeek/66air-ready-

    ALSO GOOGLE AIR CARS AND WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR.

  • PAUL LEO FASO

    YEA, NICE TRY BOYS, YOUR ABOUT 20 YEARS BEHIND THE CURVE. CHECK OUT TATA INDUSTRIES NEW VEHICLE, THE NANO WITH AN AIR COMPRESSED ENGINE THAT WILL RUN AT 80 MPH FOR 150 MILES, CHARGE UP WITH AIR IN 4 MINUTES. YOU GUYS NEED TO TAKE A HINT, WE NEED OIL LIKE WE NEED CANCER. SO WHAT TO DO? LICENSE THE TECHNOLOGY FROM TATA, INSTALL 2 ENGINES TO DRIVE BOTH FRONT AND REAR WHEELS,2 AIR TANKS WITH AN ON BOARD CHARGING AIR COMPRESSOR TO REFILL THE RESERVE TANK WHILE DRIVING AND NEVER NEED TO STOP. REFINE THE PROTOTYPE AND SELL IT TO THE LAME BRAINS IN DETROIT WHO ARE DRIVING AROUND IN CIRCLES WITH HUMMERS.

    see; http://green.yahoo.com/blog/ecogeek/66air-ready-

    ALSO GOOGLE AIR CARS AND WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR.

  • Lo

    Are there other start ups doing similiar stuff? What about Jonathan Goodwin? Thanks for your help!

  • Lo

    Are there other start ups doing similiar stuff? What about Jonathan Goodwin? Thanks for your help!

  • This is stupid. It follows GM’s idiotic idea that making SUV fuel efficient will save the SUV market.

    No.

    The fact is, Andy Frank’s ideas are academic and ivory-tower, and GM is not an honest company.

    Converting any car to hybrid is expensive; the minimal benefits of doing so with these giant trucks is what makes it stupid.

    Yes, Ford could construct a serial-hybrid version of the F-series, but not using Frank’s puerile ideas.

    A serial hybrid gets all of its motive — “traction” — power from the electric motor; there is no transmission, clutch, etc. An optional gas or biodiesel genset can keep it running for occasional longer trips, but most smart people will just add extra batteries and forget about the genset.

    The other stupid thing is that this company plans to use Lithium batteries, which is the mark of Cain so far as practicality is concerned. When you hear Lithium, think “too expensive for practical use” and “they are just jiving”.

  • This is stupid. It follows GM’s idiotic idea that making SUV fuel efficient will save the SUV market.

    No.

    The fact is, Andy Frank’s ideas are academic and ivory-tower, and GM is not an honest company.

    Converting any car to hybrid is expensive; the minimal benefits of doing so with these giant trucks is what makes it stupid.

    Yes, Ford could construct a serial-hybrid version of the F-series, but not using Frank’s puerile ideas.

    A serial hybrid gets all of its motive — “traction” — power from the electric motor; there is no transmission, clutch, etc. An optional gas or biodiesel genset can keep it running for occasional longer trips, but most smart people will just add extra batteries and forget about the genset.

    The other stupid thing is that this company plans to use Lithium batteries, which is the mark of Cain so far as practicality is concerned. When you hear Lithium, think “too expensive for practical use” and “they are just jiving”.

  • Allan Jensen

    I want a commuter vehicle , short range electric vehicle for day to day use. It will have solar panels , battery bank. But for the occasional longer trips it will have a trailer with a petrol generator to increase my range or to charge me up in remote areas and i can use it for a generator while camping. Or it could be an easily removable bolt on bolt off unit attachment containing a generator. I wont be dragging around a heavy petrol motor/generator for short trips where battery range will easily do but can easily extend my range for long trips. That seems the ideal for an electric vehicle. I wont have to use petrol at all if its not available or its expensive. Then my leisure use of fuel will be an optional thing. OPEC wont have its power over me anymore. And hopefully I could produce my own electricity by alternative means and be carbon neutral as far as energy is concerned. First car company building a design like this will clean up

  • Allan Jensen

    I want a commuter vehicle , short range electric vehicle for day to day use. It will have solar panels , battery bank. But for the occasional longer trips it will have a trailer with a petrol generator to increase my range or to charge me up in remote areas and i can use it for a generator while camping. Or it could be an easily removable bolt on bolt off unit attachment containing a generator. I wont be dragging around a heavy petrol motor/generator for short trips where battery range will easily do but can easily extend my range for long trips. That seems the ideal for an electric vehicle. I wont have to use petrol at all if its not available or its expensive. Then my leisure use of fuel will be an optional thing. OPEC wont have its power over me anymore. And hopefully I could produce my own electricity by alternative means and be carbon neutral as far as energy is concerned. First car company building a design like this will clean up

  • Allan Jensen

    I want a commuter vehicle , short range electric vehicle for day to day use. It will have solar panels , battery bank. But for the occasional longer trips it will have a trailer with a petrol generator to increase my range or to charge me up in remote areas and i can use it for a generator while camping. Or it could be an easily removable bolt on bolt off unit attachment containing a generator. I wont be dragging around a heavy petrol motor/generator for short trips where battery range will easily do but can easily extend my range for long trips. That seems the ideal for an electric vehicle. I wont have to use petrol at all if its not available or its expensive. Then my leisure use of fuel will be an optional thing. OPEC wont have its power over me anymore. And hopefully I could produce my own electricity by alternative means and be carbon neutral as far as energy is concerned. First car company building a design like this will clean up

  • C. Doug M.

    I can’t wait to convert my low mileage 1999 F150 4X4,this sounds real promising. Yes conversion kits are the way to go to get us weaned off much faster from relience on oil & the petroleum multi-nationals who are hoseing us big time.

    CDM

  • C. Doug M.

    I can’t wait to convert my low mileage 1999 F150 4X4,this sounds real promising. Yes conversion kits are the way to go to get us weaned off much faster from relience on oil & the petroleum multi-nationals who are hoseing us big time.

    CDM

  • is there some kind of device to add to a trailer to generate electricity, to help haul the trailer down the road?

  • Jeremy

    lol I get 25MPG with factory default 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 regular cab with the 5.9L diesel engine and it was WAY cheaper than this modification. Wake up people….Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel… Take a Hint from Europe, after all their economy isn’t crashing.

  • Jeremy

    lol I get 25MPG with factory default 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 regular cab with the 5.9L diesel engine and it was WAY cheaper than this modification. Wake up people….Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel… Take a Hint from Europe, after all their economy isn’t crashing.

  • Jeremy

    lol I get 25MPG with factory default 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 regular cab with the 5.9L diesel engine and it was WAY cheaper than this modification. Wake up people….Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel…..Diesel… Take a Hint from Europe, after all their economy isn’t crashing.

  • i think energy conversion gas to electricity for cars is somthing a lot of money saving and envoirment friendly.

    see this guide

  • i think energy conversion gas to electricity for cars is somthing a lot of money saving and envoirment friendly.

    see this guide

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  • Excellent blog you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

    • Glad I wasn’t the only one who had to read that sick piece of writing. That’s what my mind went to right away too.

      • Interesting post reminds me of another gem. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do. Confucius

  • This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post. Big thanks for the useful info i found on blog.KucheraFamily.com – Welcome.

  • hey buddy,this is one of the best posts that I’ve ever seen; you may include some more ideas in the same theme. I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post

  • where do you get one i am buying this truck tomorrow