We recently had a chance to drive one of the newest hybrid plug-in pickup trucks available. Now that it’s over, we think this could be the moment in time we look back to in 20 years when we’re driving hybrid micro pickups with payload capacities of more than 5,000 pounds.
All right, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much.
The truck we drove in the Los Angeles area was built by XL, a Massachusetts company that develops and provides electric vehicles for commercial and municipal fleets. In April in Detroit, we drove a Ford Super Duty F-250 equipped with XL’s hybrid power assist system. Our short drive in that truck, which was equipped with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine, resulted in a 25 percent gain in fuel economy over a regular Ford F-250 without any substantial trade-offs.
For fleet maintenance professionals, introducing new vehicle technology usually raises concerns about serviceability, reliability and the risk of downtime. While benefits like MPG improvement, safety enhancements, and extending PM’s are promising, all of these can be wiped out by unforeseen service headaches.
So before moving forward with your next green fleet vehicle selection, make sure your service and maintenance team is part of the decision-making process. Chances are, your vehicle service managers will help you more thoroughly assess the pros and cons of a new technology – and save time, money and headaches later.
What boxes need to be checked for your service team? See the list below.
MEDFORD, Ore. – RVTD is already seeing savings after adding six hybrid vans to their fleet earlier this year.
“It’s a very simple system that has a great effect add a net cost about $9500 for the up charge,” says RVTD’s Operations Manager, Tim D’Alessandro, “We’re thinking it’s going to be about the 3.5-year range to 4-year range; these vehicles typically go 5 to 7 years, so the return on investment is definitely there.”
Short-term savings are centered around fuel costs, “We don’t have a vehicle to relate side-by-side to you,” explains D’Alessandro, “but when we look at this vehicle type and what it traditionally gets and what it’s getting for fuel economy, we’re at about 23% fuel economy increase.”
It’s only June, but 2018 has been quite a year for XL. Building from the momentum of last year’s record sales, significant product introductions and substantial funding by major industry investors, we’ve continued to surge by adding many of the largest commercial and municipal fleets in North America to our customer portfolio, and are on pace to double our staff size by the end of the year. And last night, we were honored by Boston Business Journal as one of their Best Places to Work in 2018.
When XL was founded (as XL Hybrids) back in 2009, the green transportation market looked very different than it does today. The average price of gas in the U.S. was $1.84 (diesel was $2.27) and electrification for fleet vehicles was in its infancy. In fact, very few of the companies selling hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or all-electric fleet vehicles in 2009 are around today.
California has the toughest emissions regulations in the nation, and some cities’ are even tougher. Los Angeles County and two cities are electrifying vehicles to promote sustainability.
XL is upfitting a combined 38 hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric trucks and vans to improve fleet efficiency, increase MPG and reduce CO2 emissions.
The municipalities expect to see a 25 percent increase in MPG on hybrid electric models and a 50 percent MPG increase in plug-in hybrid electric models compared to their standard gasoline fleet vehicles. The orders represent the first hybrid electric cargo and passenger van purchases for Los Angeles County and the City of Long Beach.
If you were asked to rank the following green fleet vehicles in order of their net CO2 emissions savings over standard, gas-powered vehicles, from highest reducing to least reducing, how would you order them?
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Truck (PHEV)
Hybrid Electric Truck (HEV)
Battery Electric Sedan (BEV)
(Hint: If you guessed the order above, you’d be right.)
Surprising? Not when you look at the full picture of relative net CO2 emissions.
When most people think of a hybrid, they think of a Toyota Prius. When they think of a plug-in hybrid they think of a Honda Clarity, or maybe a Ford Fusion Energi. They certainly don’t think of a Chevy Express, Ford Transit, or an Isuzu step van, because they’re not built in hybrid versions. Massachusetts-based company XL is offering a unique twist on the standard hybrid formula for large commercial vehicles that aren’t available with a hybrid system from the factory.
The consumer hybrid market is filled, Tod Hynes CEO of XL told The Drive. But the commercial market is wide open. Only now is Ford introducing a hybrid version of the F-150 pickup. Other trucks and vans have not yet seen the benefit of hybrid technology from the factory. Additionally, many such vehicles are used for inefficient stop-and-go urban driving. This is where the old-fashioned large V-6 and V-8 engines perform worst. But it’s also what electric vehicles excel at, both in performance and fuel economy.
The 2017 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season racked up a record $306 billion in damages and aid, making it the costliest hurricane season ever, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This reality is the latest piece of evidence that extreme weather is wreaking havoc around the world, with increasing frequency and severity.
Here’s a question for leaders of corporations and municipalities: What was the impact of extreme weather on your bottom line last year? And how are you mitigating this threat to your company’s operations and finances in the future?
Last month, the contractor increased the number of its hybrid school buses using the XLH system from connected vehicle electrification manufacturer XL. The system, which is approved by the New York State Department of Transportation for both Ford and GM HEV school and shuttle bus chassis, uses regenerative braking to decelerate and electric assist to accelerate.
“Upon acceleration you feel (the hybrid system) right away,” explained Marty Hoffman, vice president and co-owner of Careful Bus. “There’s a certain smoothness. You’re not driving a fully electric vehicle but that first couple of seconds you feel like you are in one. Then there is no difference (compared to a regular gasoline bus) but you can feel the regenerative charging when braking.”
Hoffman said the family-owned company has already seen a more than 25-percent increase in fuel economy, a 20-percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions and a 20-percent increase in front-wheel brake life.
By now, everyone’s heard that Ford intends to launch a new F-150 hybrid in 2020. We don’t have many details on that truck yet, but did you know that you can buy a hybrid F-Series right now? The truck is not totally built by Ford per se; instead, it’s modified by a Ford-certified company called XL then sold through XL or a Ford Commercial Vehicles dealer.
XL makes two models: the F-250 Super Duty Hybrid you see here and an F-150 Plug-in Hybrid that we’ve yet to drive. However, we recently were able to get some seat time overnight in the electrified Super Duty, putting significant miles on it to see if XL’s hybrid system is worth the expense.
The F-250 Hybrid starts out as an ordinary gas-powered Ford F-250 — powered by Ford’s venerable 6.2-liter “Boss” V-8 making 385 horsepower and 430 pounds-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and can be had in two-wheel-drive or 4×4 configuration. In fact, the F-250 powertrain is completely untouched by the XL hybrid system. It doesn’t interfere with the engine operation; it doesn’t ever operate in all-electric mode; it doesn’t even really talk much to the truck. What it does do is listen.