Thursday, March 30, 2017

Expanded choices: Fleets are set to take advantage of alternative powertrains


More and more suppliers of medium-duty vehicles are adding options for alternative powertrains. For example, Dana recently introduced Spicer Electrified motor, control and e-drive technologies for electric vehicle propulsion systems.

Currently in production, the Spicer EV Drive for electric vans manages speed and torque from the e-motor to the wheels. Planned for launch in 2018, Dana’s new e-axles for city delivery vehicles and electric transit buses will feature a fully integrated motor and gearbox. The company is also working with automotive manufacturers to develop all-wheel-drive (AWD) e-axles paired with traditional front-wheel-drive hybrids.

Also in the news is the new XLP Fleet-Ready plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) solution for half-ton pickup trucks from XL Hybrids. The PHEV system will be installed as a ship-through upfit that will leave the original OEM engine, transmission, and fuel and exhaust systems intact, and will not have any special maintenance requirements. XLP will also include the XL Link cloud-based analytics system, which measures MPG performance and reports emissions reductions.

XL Hybrids surveyed fleet managers to understand their requirements and to develop the new technology. The XLP solution builds on the platform used on the company’s XL3 hybrid-electric powertrain, which has covered more than 35 million miles on Class 2-6 vehicles since 2013. The XLP lithium battery pack will accommodate Levels 1 and 2 charging using an industry-standard plug.
“Expanding our offering to include plug-in solutions is the next step in our plan to electrify fleet vehicles with technology that saves money while reducing fuel consumption and emissions,” says Tod Hynes, founder and chief executive officer of XL Hybrids. “The XLP system allows fleets to purchase the same OEM pickup trucks with the powertrain and warranty intact with an electrified powertrain to increase MPG.”

“Major fleets that have already adopted the XL3 hybrid-electric upfit system know that ‘fleet ready’ means it does not compromise the ability to provide customer service,” adds Clay Siegert, XL Hybrids’ co-founder and chief operating officer. “With our new XLP system, we’re equally committed to not impacting service, delivery or field operations.”

A number of utility and municipal fleets, including San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E), Liberty Utilities, Hawaiian Electric Co. and Montgomery County Maryland, are among the XL Hybrids customers that intend to purchase the new XLP PHEV system for pickup trucks. Deliveries will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017 and SDG&E has already announced plans to purchase up to 110 of the XLP systems between 2017 and 2020.

Liberty Utilities and its parent company, Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp., are also planning to add the new XLP systems. “The number and delivery timelines will be defined by our budget, but from a fleet perspective, we see a potential need for one to one-and-a-half percent of our fleet, or approximately 10 to 15 units, as assets come up for retirement,” says Stephen McCrodan, purchasing manager for Liberty Algonquin Business Services and director of fleet purchasing at Liberty Utilities.

“We adopted a fairly strong green fleet policy as we took steps to ensure that we’re doing all we can to minimize our impact on the environment,” McCrodan says. “We have shifted much of our fleet over to cleaner burning CNG and continue to; however, there are some Liberty Utilities service areas that do not have a natural gas infrastructure, and that prevents the use of CNG in those locations. Also, some of our locations are small, and the infrastructure required to support CNG would be too big a burden. For sites like those, a PHEV is an excellent alternative.

“OEMs have reduced their alternative fuel offerings for vehicles used by utilities,” McCrodan adds. “We have certain job functions which require or are optimized by a compact SUV or light-duty
pick-up truck and now we have fewer alternative fuel choices from manufacturers. Systems such as XL Hybrid’s XLP will help to fill the void.”

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