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NEWSLETTER: August 2014
Welcome to the EDI newsletter, where we’re committed to delivering valuable information and insight on the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle drivetrain industry. We'll also share some of our company news and technology breakthroughs. If this newsletter was forwarded to you and you would like to receive it monthly please feel free to subscribe. Thanks from the team at EDI.
CEO CORNER: Point of View
We're on a Roll
With the first half of 2014 culminating into an impressive list of accomplishments, I thought I would use my article space to summarize some of the key company highlights for our readers. Over the course of the last 6 months, our progress has been substantial: we’ve continued our heritage of innovation, developing “world’s first” game changing technologies, we’ve collaborated with the industry’s finest partners, and our list of top tier customers continues to grow.
The first half of this year has set a new standard for EDI’s achievements across the board for sales, product releases, and new customer partners. We think it’s due to the marketplace maturing, new government mandates and programs, but also because of the quality of our customer partnerships and the differentiated value-add solutions we’re providing.
We’ve developed PHEV solutions for light and medium duty trucks that have full EV capability and which can also reduce fuel use and emissions by up to 80%. These vehicles are in testing in both the U.S. and China now. We’re also delivering a PHEV CNG bus drivetrain and PHEV SUV drivetrain for broad market applications in China. We’ve also developed and are preparing to manufacture the next generation of EDI’s high efficiency/high torque capacity CVT for new industrial applications.
In addition, EDI has also positioned itself with partners to participate in the State of California’s ambitious push toward a zero vehicle emissions future by being selected to participate in grant programs for new PHEV vehicles and also dual chemistry battery systems.
We’re grateful to the marketplace, our partners, customers, and investors for our progress so far this year. And as we move forward, our mandate is clear: transform the industry by creating best-in-class products, collaborating with world-class partners, and delivering the highest levels of quality and performance available.
I’m really excited about the future of our industry and am also looking forward to updating our readers as things continue to progress throughout the rest of this year.
Recapping the EDI Journey
How a clean tech company turned a small government loan into industry-leading drivetrain technologies for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.
In 2007, Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI) comprised a team of Silicon Valley and automotive industry veterans, a portfolio of patents licensed from the University of California Davis, and a vision to revolutionize the hybrid, pluggable hybrid, and electric vehicle market. Armed with an initial seed funding and a small loan underwritten by the state of California, the company set out to develop and commercialize hybrid and electric drivetrain solutions, continuously variable transmissions, and drivetrain software for automotive manufacturers worldwide.
Scroll forward to 2014 and EDI has transformed into a full-fledged clean tech company, quadrupling in size, and powering some of the largest automotive brands across the globe. Fueled by U.S, European, and Asian investors and top tier board advisors, EDI has recruited a talented team of technology innovators focused on setting new industry standards in terms of performance and value. The company has extended its initial patent portfolio into an expansive library of “world’s first” game changing technology represented by a range of vehicle solutions spanning sedans, SUVs, delivery vehicles, work trucks, and passenger busses.
As our relationships have expanded from licensing EDI technology to major brands like Toyota and Siemens to developing complete drivetrain solutions deployments for companies like Ankai and Shaanxi in China, one thing has remained the same: we are continuously focused on understanding our customers’ needs, so that we can solve the hardest challenges they face—challenges that others can’t or won’t even approach. We strive to build solutions that give our customers true advantage over the competition, whether that’s speeding time to market, significantly reducing R&D costs, or providing new levels of performance or functionality.
Today, EDI continues its commitment to raise the industry bar, heavily focusing on R&D and expanding our solutions portfolio. Every innovation we create, every technology we develop is informed by our desire to help solve our customers’ toughest challenges so they can compete and succeed in the marketplace.
For more information on EDI's offerings, visit our products and services page.
EDI Partners with Greencraft, CEC to deliver first CNG-PHEV Class-4 truck
Over 40% improvement in MPGe with integration of Intelligent Plug-in Hybrid and CNG
EDI has announced a high-profile partnership to develop a first-of-its-kind, Class-4 vehicle that combines the benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) and PHEV technology.
In partnership with Greenkraft, CALSTART, and the California Energy Commission, the collaboration supports the rapid movement in California toward a zero emissions environment. The effort combines EDI’s intelligent PHEV powertrain with Greenkraft’s CNG-powered 14,500-pound, Class-4 medium-duty truck. EDI’s solution can improve the fuel economy of a conventional CNG-powered medium-duty truck by more than 40 percent.
EDI’s announcement came simultaneously with a grant approval for the combined partnership by the California Energy Commission of funding from its Energy Research and Development Division. The unanimously approved $900,000 grant, supports the state directive to accelerate research and development of advanced natural gas engine-hybrid electric vehicles for light and heavy-duty applications.
The full press release can be viewed on our website.
The Push to Expand the Use of Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Over 40% improvement in MPGe with integration of Intelligent Plug-in Hybrid and CNG
The term “alternative fuel" covers a lot of ground. From natural gas to electric vehicles to hydrogen fuel cell cars, all are powered by a fuel other than gasoline. There are several reasons behind the push to expand the use of alternative fuel vehicles. For some, they are a way to reduce our dependence on imported oil. Others look to reduce green house gas emissions.The State of California, a trend-setter in the use of alternative fuel vehicles, aims to do both. The State has begun researching the benefits of combining alternative fuel technologies to boost the benefits of alternative fuel vehicles even more. One promising combination: Natural gas and plug-in hybrid electric drivetrains. The benefits of the pairing are substantial but there are barriers to widespread adoption.
“This is a great opportunity to combine a clean fuel for long mileage in trucks with zero emission around town,” said Fred Silver, vice president of CalStart, an organization that seeks to expand clean transportation.
CalStart’s California Hybrid, Efficient, and Advanced Technology Research Center (CalHEAT), recently completed a study on compressed natural gas plug-in hybrid electric trucks. It found that a truck powered by natural gas with plug-in hybrid electric capability could reduce greenhouse gas emission up to 45 percent compared to a diesel-powered truck. The study considered Class 3 through 6 trucks.
The NG PHEV combination also increased low-end torque, “a desired benefit for some duty cycles,” said the report. It concluded that 4.4 million gallons of diesel fuel would be saved if NG PHEV trucks accounted for 2 percent of California’s truck market by 2020.
“It is a great reason to combine these technologies,” said Silver.
The CalHEAT study identified “port drayage trucks with lighter, higher capacity natural gas fuel tanks” as a “high-payoff” application for natural gas hybrid trucks. The Port of Long Beach is open to testing a NG PHEV truck, said Peterson. “We are always looking at cleaner fuels,” he said.
In fact, the Port of Long Beach already plans to experiment with using an electric rail to move trucks the short distance from the ship to the rail yard, said Peterson.
“Why not use a natural gas/plug-in hybrid electric vehicle instead?” queries Joerg Ferchau, CEO of Efficient Drivetrains Inc., a company in the northern California city of Dixon that has PHEV drivetrain technology.
EDI is working with GreenKraft Inc., based in Santa Ana, Calif., to produce a CNG-PHEV Class 4 medium-duty truck to test the combination. The project is funded by the California Energy Commission and is a result of the CalHEAT study, said CalStart VP Silver.
There are barriers to widespread adoption of NG PHEV trucks, however. “Cost is a big one”, said John Gartner, research director at Navigant Consulting Inc. “While implementing both drive types would lead to a greater reduction in emissions, the added cost of natural gas equipment has to be offset by lowering fuel costs, which would be challenging to achieve if electricity is the primary fuel in a plug-in vehicle, ” said Gartner. “ It depends on the drive cycle, it would have to be a vehicle that drives a lot.”
There are also relatively few trucks with natural gas engines, though the fuel’s popularity is growing with smaller fleet vehicles. At other end of the spectrum, however, only a few companies currently produce natural gas engines for Class 5 to 7 trucks.
Cummins is one company that does produce natural gas engines for large trucks, and “its popularity is growing”, says Rick Ham, vice president of sales and marketing for Cummins Northwest in Seattle. “But natural gas is still not a good match for very large trucks”, he said.
“The issue with the hybrid is with a larger displacement engine like natural gas, the torque demand means the electric doesn’t last very long,” said Ham.
If the technology could be improved, however, “we are all for figuring out these other solutions,” he said. “Anytime we can save fuel and get the performance, it is a positive solution.”
Natural Gas Rising
Demand for natural gas drivetrains is growing in all kinds of commercial vehicles. Navigant forecasts global sales of light-duty natural gas vehicles will rise from 2.3 million in 2014 to 3.8 million in 2023, with especially strong demand in Asia and North America. Global sales of medium and heavy-duty natural gas trucks is forecast to rise to 225,000 in 2020 from 110,000 in 2014.
In North America, one thing driving those sales is the discovery of large natural gas reserves in Texas and North Dakota.
“The quantity coming out of there is amazing,” said Dean Kithais, with Velocity Vehicle Group in Los Angeles, which sells Freightliner trucks in Los Angeles. Kithais sold several hundred natural gas trucks to Los Angeles-area ports in the 2008.
Demand for natural gas-powered trucks is growing even among the heavy-duty crowd, said Barney Newman, new truck sales manager at Brattain International Trucks in Portland, Oregon.
Brattain just added Cummins to the line of trucks it represents and will start offering the natural gas-powered trucks around Thanksgiving, said Newman. “There is definitely a market for (natural gas powered trucks),” he said.
Brattain did offer a gasoline hybrid truck produced by International, but the truck went out of production about eight months ago, said Newman. “The cost was very prohibitive,” he said.
He is skeptical that hybrid technology is ready for heavy duty trucks, but Newman does think it is right for light-duty fleet vehicles. “The people I know that are driving hybrids are very happy,” said Newman.