XL Hybrids: Supersizing Green Machines

Nature of Business radio, created and hosted by Chrissy Coughlin, is a weekly show on business and environment.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of innovators in and around the Boston area. Tod Hynes, President and Founder of XL Hybrids, is one such person and what he and his team are up to is pretty cool.

Founded 2 and a half years ago by a team from MIT, XL Hybrids has developed a hybrid electric conversion technology for Class 1 through 3 commercial vans and trucks (Those weighing up to 14,000 pounds). They recognized that hybrid vehicle technology, while widely available for consumers, was not available at a price that could trigger mass adoption by those that use the most fuel and could gain the most from the technology: commercial fleets.

I spoke with Tod about the technology behind their hybrid system, continuing growth, their original pilot with Lincoln Town Cars (last I heard, Tod drives one), upcoming pilot in January 2012, commercial goals, the addition of Richard Canny, former Ford Exec and Electric car expert, and much more.

Tod HynesSpecifically, XL Hybrids has engineered the powertrain to increase vehicle efficiency and reduce emissions by adding an electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery pack, and sophisticated control software to the vehicle. Here is useful information from a recent blog on their site:

Consider a commercial van that makes daily deliveries and service calls around the environs of a large city. It drives upwards of 25,000 miles a year, gets about 11.5 MPG in city driving, and consumes over 2,000 gallons of fuel a year. At current fuel prices, its fuel bill is approximately $7,000 each year.

Furthermore, due to its need to carry substantial cargo loads, its efficiency cannot be improved by downsizing. Shaving 20 percent off of that vehicle's fuel consumption means eliminating over 400 gallons of gas from the company income statement and from its carbon footprint every year. That is like taking a passenger car off the road. (The conversions cost roughly $8,000).

XL Hybrids is clearly hitting their stride. In 2012, after their latest pilot, they will launch commercial sales of their conversion system for vans installed as a retrofit on existing fleet vehicles or as an upfit onto a new vehicle before delivery from a dealer.

They are also in discussions with vehicle manufacturers to install the hybrid system on new vehicles, offered as a new vehicle option through select dealers. And just announced on Thursday, they were winners of the best technology, products and standards for 2011 in Electronic Design's annual Best Electronic Design issue. I asked Tod what we should expect to hear from him when we get him back on the show a year from now and, well, you will have to listen to hear what he says but you can probably guess...it's good.

George Papoulias edited this podcast.