California’s Wrightspeed is in line for an additional $5.789 million grant from the California Energy Commission in support of its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle development work.
Wrightspeed’s been designated for the award under PON-11-604 NOPA (notice of proposed award) for Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing, part of the agency’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).
“The grant funds will accelerate manufacturing of Wrightspeed’s Route retrofit powertrain for the surprisingly large medium duty commercial fleet market, which boasts 2 million trucks in the U.S. alone,” the company says.
“The manufacturing and testing jobs created within Wrightspeed will be permanent positions and the grant will indirectly catalyze hundreds of California jobs, through suppliers and the end users of the Route, whose fuel costs will be significantly reduced, ultimately leading to a better hiring climate.”
Turbine Engines and a CNG Truck for ACT Expo
Wrightspeed built its first kit for the Isuzu NPR truck, and saw efficiency rise from about 12 miles per gallon in testing with a metro drive cycle, to 25 to 40 miles per gallon (on a cost equivalent basis, drive cycle-dependent).
The firm uses fuel-versatile turbine engines, and built a compressed natural gas-fueled Isuzu PHEV for the ACT Expo ride-and-drive (F&F, April 9).
Wrightspeed says it raised some $10 million in private investments during 2010 and 2011, some of which was used as matching funds for the company’s prior CEC grant of $1.2 million. Wrightspeed opened its present San Jose facility on April 7th, 2011, and since then says it “has built and tested an impressive amount of IP, including… 250 horsepower 2-speed Geared Traction Drive (GTD) with clutchless electronic shifting (an industry first), 200 kilowatt inverter, battery pack and management system, and patent-pending vehicle dynamics control system.”
Largely because the factory truck’s engine and transmission are removed, the PHEV drivetrain adds no weight to the vehicle.
Ready for Customer Validation
Wrightspeed has several engineering prototypes it says will now go out for customer validation and testing. “While continuing to meet payload, power, and range expectations of fleet operators, the Route offers a 3-5 year return on investment unparalleled by competing electric drive and hybrid technologies.”
Wrightspeed builds its own 26-kilowatt-hour battery packs with proprietary BMS (battery management system). It currently uses Nanophosphate brand lithium ion cells from A123.
For the latest CEC competition, Wrightspeed reports “the highest application score of the applicants,” with criteria including project feasibility, budget, match funding, economic benefit, project team qualifications, and market development.
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Source: Wrightspeed and CEC announcements, Fleets & Fuels follow-up