Rather than make yet another Mustang derivative, Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies has done something relevant and managed to install a plug-in hybrid system in a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The resulting vehicle achieves a combined fuel economy of up to 41 MPG, up from a combined 16 MPG on the 2WD version of the truck. HEVT will now offer the technology as a retrofit on a limited basis as they conduct further testing in an effort to put it into mass production. See, how hard was that?
Essentially, HEVT has fitted all the systems necessary to turn the F-150 into a parallel plug-in hybrid. Mounted behind the rear differential is an electric motor capable of 200 ft-lb of torque, while a stack of batteries is located in place of the crew-cab seats. A regenerative braking system is also fitted, as is a system enabling the engine to charge the batteries and for the engine to be uncoupled from the driven wheels. HEVT's own electronics and software package, called the Adaptive Control Unit, keeps all these goodies running in harmony, and the interior is equipped with a Prius-style display so drivers can monitor their power usage. The really clever thing is that this technology is somewhat universal, requiring minimal modification to work in other gas-guzzlers.
HEVT claims the technology needed is cheap enough that, when combined with the fuel savings, retrofitted vehicles will actually save money across their lifetimes. We'd like to see a final price, but if this is true it could be a great solution for the countless existing individual and corporate owners of large trucks, enabling them to upgrade to a considerably more fuel-efficient vehicle without actually buying a new one. That's a double-win for spotted owls and wallets alike...if this technology comes to market in any usable form.
San Jose, July 22, 2008 - Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc. (HEVT) unveiled the world's first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the popular Ford F-150 pickup truck at Plug-In 2008 Conference and Exposition, the first international plug-in conference and expo. Converted with a proprietary adaptive controller and using a scaled-down version of the proprietary drive train HEVT has designed for transit buses, the F-150 has been transformed from a standard combustion engine vehicle getting about 16 MPG to a PHEV getting up to 41 MPG for a typical day's driving.
The HEVT prototype was displayed during today's keynote address by Dr. Andrew S. Grove, former chairman of Intel Corporation. "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," Dr. Grove said.
The prototype shows how HEVT's plug-in hybrid drive train technology can retrofit existing PSVs (pickups, SUVs, and vans), to displace gasoline with electricity, cutting operating costs and harmful emissions and boosting performance. This is an important step toward energy security, because it reduces the fuel required to operate trucks and other large vehicles.
"One way to reduce fossil fuel use is to find ways to plug in some of the hundreds of millions of internal combustion engines already on the world's roads," said CalCars founder Felix Kramer. "The pioneering PHEV designs for trucks and buses from Dr. Ali Emadi and his team at HEVT are especially promising."
Engineers at HEVT have developed a sophisticated electronics and software system called the Adaptive Control Unit (ACU) which serves to control the hybrid drive train. While driving, the ACU controls use of the electric motor and gasoline engine to optimize fuel economy and performance. An in-dash display unit monitors performance, indicating the charge remaining in the battery pack and the energy recovered through regenerative -braking.
"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."
HEVT will begin with a small pilot program of Ford F-150 pickup truck conversions available to organizations and individuals on a custom basis. The pilot program will help HEVT's continued development and optimization, pushing conversion costs down and lowering lifetime cost of ownership for converted vehicles.