I had a chance to talk with XL Hybrid’s vice-president Justin Ashton, who emphasized that XL Hybrids will be focusing on heavy duty fleet commercial vehicles (no hybrid Mercury Marauder, I am afraid.) And in addition to this pilot program, XL Hybrids is also moving to a new facility in Brighton, MA, and they are even accepting applications for local pilot program testers. So if you’re in the area and what to see just how effective XL Hybrid’s system really is.
There has been so much focus on the world of hybrid cars, that sometimes it feels like the vehicles most in need of MPG improvements, like trucks and vans, are forgotten by the OEM’s. But this week XL Hybrids announced a pilot testing program of its bolt-on hybrid system for GM full-size vans…with plans to expand to other popular fleet vehicles as well.When last we covered XL Hybrids, they had been conducting tests of their bolt-on hybrid system on the popular Panther-platform(aka Ford Crown Victoria’s). Unlike conventional hybrid systems that are integrated into the car from the factory, XL Hybrid’s system is designed to be a cost effective solution for improving fleetwide fuel efficiency by as much as 20% in city driving. A small electric motor provides up to 53 extra horsepower and 240 ft-lbs of torque, while in no way adversely affecting either performance or drivability. A 2 kWh battery pack powers the electric motor, helping to takea lot of load off the engine, thus significantly improving fuel economy without ever touching the OEM engine or transmission. This could lead to annual savings of between $1,500 and $2,500 per year, per vehicle. Multiply that by a larger fleet…and you are talking about tens of thousands of dollars in potential savings every year.XL Hybrids is beginning a pilot test program utilizing Chevy Express and GMC Savanna full-size vans. Payback on these systems, depending on mileage driven, is expected to be in the 3-5 year range, driving 25,000 miles annually. As any small business owner will tell you, it is easy to rack up that many miles (or more!) in a year, and with gas prices continuing to edge higher, the payback on these systems could actually be even shorter.