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vehicle types that can be retrofitted with XLHybrid technology

Vehicle types that can be retrofitted with XLHybrid technology

Many of us know someone who owns a hybrid. For me, it’s my aunt and uncle. Their Toyota Prius takes them from their home near New York City back and forth to Maine several times during each warm season. They love it for its fuel efficiency. And, knowing them, the car’s reduced greenhouse gas emissions is their biggest source of satisfaction. Their Prius gets between 48 and 50 miles per gallon.

For my relatives, their six roundtrips each year, consuming less than 7.4 gallons each way, translates to around 89 gallons in total. Compared to their old Subaru – 25 mpg at best – they save something like 80 gallons each summer; 1600 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Not bad. Though by themselves, they likely won’t make a big dent in climate change.

That raises the question: can hybrids, which combine a gasoline or diesel engine with an electric motor and batteries, make a real impact on greenhouse gas emissions?

Schematic of XLHybrid retrofit

Schematic of XLHybrid retrofit

In October, the Mass. Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced hybrid retrofits for a small vehicle fleet at a non-profit education organization called Square One, which includes various child care venues in Springfield and Holyoke. Square One vans transport over 1,000 children each day to and from the various centers. Technology from XL Hybrid, based in Brighton, will cut the vans’ fuel consumption by 25 percent, saving 2,700 gallons – or 54,000 lbs of GHG – each year. Now we’re getting somewhere, even though this is a pretty small operation.

Ratcheting up the scale, Coca Cola – just one customer – will own over 240 delivery vans that use XL Hybrid’s system by early 2015. Coke estimates GHG reduction will top 6800 tons over the 10-year life of the converted fleet.

The XL Hybrid installations add an electric motor, a lithium ion battery pack, and control software to the vehicle, while retaining the vehicles’ internal combustion engine and transmission. The hybrid system saves fuel through “launch assist,” where the electric motor helps the vehicle get going. When drivers slow down, deceleration enables the system to charge the battery. Then the battery releases the energy to the electric motor, helping the vehicle accelerate.

According to Stephen Russell, DOER’s clean vehicle guru, XL Hybrid’s approach is interesting and different compared to other alternative fuel technologies because vehicles can be retrofitted in only six hours for under $10,000 for existing light (e.g. pickups and small vans) and medium duty (e.g. delivery trucks, ambulances, small buses) vehicles ‒ Class 1 through 3.

There are lots of alternative fuel technologies on the market. Russell points out, however, that for those technologies to hit the road, you have to replace the vehicle. Many of the well over 100 million light and medium commercial vehicles registered (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) won’t be replaced for up to ten years. In contrast, retrofits can improve vehicle mileage right away to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. That would definitely satisfy my aunt and uncle.

Written By:


DOER, Marketing & Collaboration

Tom facilitates marketing and collaboration for DOER constituents, internal and external, including the state's 351 cities and towns. Prior to joining DOER, he worked as a senior marketing professional in high tech – especially software – companies. He also consulted to the U.S. Department of Energy on markets for alternative energy technologies. Tom's expertise applies Web 2.0 and social networking approaches to information technology that enable and accelerate stakeholder engagement, knowledge access and exchange. He graduated from Stanford's Graduate School of Business, where he also did coursework in aeronautical engineering and wrote for Business Week on solar energy. He earned his A.B degree from Harvard in Technology & Public Policy. Tom flies and instructs in gliders -- solar powered aircraft -- and is a jazz drummer.

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