XL Hybrids, Inc., a hybrid-electric powertrain developer for Class 1-3 commercial fleet vehicles, announced it has expanded its product line to offer hybrid-electric powertrain technology for Ford E-Series vans.
XL Hybrids' technology will initially be available for the 2013-model year 4.6L Ford E-150 and E-250 cargo van and passenger wagon models, standard and extended lengths.
“We’re starting to release it later this year for the 2013 model-year first, and then we will make it backwards-compatible with slightly older model years. That would make the hybrid system available for retrofits as well,” according to Justin Ashton, vice president of business development and co-founder of XL Hybrids.
Ashton noted that the same goes for the hybrid system currently offered for the 2010-2013 Chevrolet Express vans. “With the same components and same general architecture and system, our testing is showing it's going to have the same performance and durability,” he said.
Designed to be a seamless option for commercial fleets, the parallel post-transmission hybrid system eliminates the need to make significant modifications to the underlying OEM vehicle or powertrain.
“We've always set out to make our powertrain make-and-model agnostic. What that allows us to do is scale our supply chain. We're not selling directly to an OEM; we're selling to fleets and creating a product of their fleet and installing it on models they use. Whereas other companies may be creating a whole new truck product, we don't add any certainty about a whole new chassis. We're adding a very low-risk platform to a system they already use,” Ashton explained.
The hybrid powertrain was also designed for a fast installation process, allowing XL Hybrids' certified upfitters to quickly install the hybrid powertrain as a ship-through option. Ashton said installation will take four to six hours.
The E-Series hybrid powertrain is the first low-cost, commercially available, charge-sustaining hybrid electric powertrain for the E-Series, providing a three- to five-year payback, according to the company.
“We started this business four years ago because we recognized a big hole in the market. Electrified technology was increasingly becoming available, but it wasn't terribly cost-effective without government grants or tax credits. So we set out to design a system that would get really good fuel savings for a fleet -- not as high as a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, but the cost is certainly going to be much less. Our price point is under $10,000 installed,” Ashton said.
Fleet customers can also save money with a 20-percent reduction in fuel consumption in urban and suburban driving. In addition, the hybrid system adds enough torque to allow fleets previously using conventional 6L gasoline engines to downsize to a smaller model. “That offers a couple benefits. They're going to save close to $1,000 upfront on that smaller engine, and it also gives them a little better savings over their baseline just because the smaller engine is going to use less fuel in some circumstances,” Ashton said.
The added torque is also enough to get customers out of diesel models, according to Ashton. “Diesel engines are pretty expensive options. So, being able to get out of a diesel and get into gasoline gives them a lower-priced fuel and they have payback from day one because our hybrid system is priced less than a diesel engine (which is usually $10,000-$12,000),” he said.
XL Hybrids also announced that it signed an installation partnership and distribution agreement with Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products (CVP) that will help make the ordering process easier for customers.
Ashton said the company has been working on the ship-thru option for about one year. “The installation partners can add the hybrid option on the same factory lines that they already have the vehicles. These big upfitters such as Leggett & Platt are certified by the OEMs, and on top of that, many of them already install CNG in all their alternative-fuel packages, so they're very familiar with how to handle this type of equipment. And, we have also crafted a distribution agreement allowing them to be able to offer this directly to those customers where they already sell.”
XL Hybrids offers a three-year, 75,000-mile warranty on its hybrid system components. OEM warranties are not impacted.
By Grace Suizo