Wrightspeed reports that its Route™, “a retrofit electric drive powertrain with an on-board generator engineered for the surprisingly large medium-duty commercial fleet market,” saves 20 times more fuel than a 100mpg car.
“For electric drive to make economic sense, you have to displace enough fuel to pay for the technology,” says founder and CEO, Ian Wright. Because commercial trucks use so much fuel, switching to electric saves fleet managers a lot more money than normal car drivers.
Notably, the setup includes an on-board generator that probably uses not-completely-clean energy, but it looks like the technology still offers a significant net benefit for the environment (and certainly for fleet managers’ budgets). Here’s more on the Wrightspeed Route retrofit powertrain, designed specifically for such customers:
By preserving existing truck chassis and bodies, Wrightspeed avoids the capital costs, time, and pitfalls of learning how to make trucks as cheaply and as well as the established vehicle manufacturers. It also frees Wrightspeed to address more than the new medium-duty truck market; because their trucks run so many miles (an average of 30,000 miles annually), the fleet industry is accustomed to regularly replacing powertrains.
Unlike a pure battery powertrain, the Wrightspeed Route™ does not restrict fleet operations with range limitations, because it has an on-board generator that charges the 40 mile battery in the field. Unlike in a conventional hybrid, the efficient electric motors are always producing the variable torque necessary to turn the wheels. This frees the generator from having to perform over the entire speed-load map, and allows it to operate at its most efficient point to charge the small, high-power battery. Wrightspeed calls this system architecture a Range-extended Electric Vehicle (REV) powertrain.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” says Wrightspeed’s marketing manager, Maya Giannini. “The Route™ combines the efficiency of an EV with the unlimited range of a mild parallel hybrid. And our generator fuel system can be fitted to run diesel, compressed natural gas, or landfill gases; so, the Route™ is really the best of all three worlds.”
Wrightspeed has retrofitted an Isuzu NPR with their Route™ powertrain. The NPR holds 70% of the world’s cab-forward box truck market. With its conventional diesel powertrain, the NPR averaged about 12 miles per gallon in testing with a metro drive cycle. With the Route™, under the same test conditions, Wrightspeed measured 44 miles per gallon (on a cost equivalent basis), a more than 300% improvement.
“The measured miles per gallon will vary widely with drive cycle. We are modest in our calculations, because fleet operators are looking for a new technology they can trust to reduce their bottom line.” says Giannini. “They carefully track their fuel usage, and inflated efficiency numbers do nothing to further their trust in the clean tech industry.”
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