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XL Hybrids Taps Former Ford Exec for Board of Directors

XL Hybrids Taps Former Ford Exec for Board of Directors

With a novel approach to retrofitting internal combustion vehicles as hybrids, start-up XL Hybrids has added auto industry veteran Richard Canny to its board of directors.

Canny spent 25 years with Ford Motor Company, including as director of global strategic planning, before serving as CEO with electric car maker Think Global. XL Hybrids has engineeed an electric conversion technology that can be installed on both new and used vehicles and is specifically targeting commercial fleets.

"Retrofitting existing fleets makes sense to [fleet] operators in terms of total cost of ownership," said Canny. "By lowering costs over the lifetime of the vehicle, they can provide a payback in three or four years."

Founded in 2009, Boston-based XL Hybrids began testing on GM 2500 Series vans including the Chevy Express and GMC Savana vans. According to the company, the conversion technology can reduce carbon emissions by 20%, as well enable performance improvements and torque efficiency.

The retrofit design includes an XL electric motor, a lithium ion battery, and control software. The powertrain is intended to store energy wasted in braking and reapply it during acceleration. The system also limits a vehicle’s top speed to 70 miles per hours, increasing safety and boosting gas mileage.

While the long-term vision of the company includes selling hybrid technology into larger markets, current interest is from companies looking to "upfit" existing vehicles with new technologies.

"The hybrid conversion technology can be progressively deployed by fleets," Canny said. "They can effectively manage expenditures while capitalizing on the highest rate of investment return."

The founders of XL Hybrids boast credentials from MIT, and Canny wlll join a board and technical advisory team that includes Bill Aulet, managing director, MIT Entrepreneurship Center, and Dr. Edward Lovelace, chief technology officer and executive vice president of engineering, Free Flow Power Corp.

Canny's former company, Think Global, based in Oslo, Norway, raised $92 million and sold more than 1,000 "ThinkCity" electric cars in Europe and the U.S. before stopping production in March 2011. While company filed for bankruptcy in June, it was bought by Electric Mobility Solutions AS and is scheduled to restart production in early 2012.

Photo provided by XL Hybrids.