Newsletter – February 2015



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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.

In this Issue:

In this edition, we feature a point of view on defining "Plug-in", perspectives on the the role of electric buses in the U.S, and an exploration of the uses and applications of a compact sedan PHEV with export power capability.


CEO Corner, Point of View

Marketplace Confusion, Defining "Plug-in"

Having just returned from the NTEA Green Truck Conference in Indianapolis, I was very impressed with the positive trend toward emissions reductions with major OEMs and upfitters. In fact, most of the major players in the space had plans in place, or were open to expanding their emissions reductions solutions over the course of the next year. Although there is still some level of skepticism around the readiness of the market to accept higher cost, but lower emissions vehicles, the industry seems convinced that the tipping point is coming, and that anything that can help reduce emissions will soon become mainstream.


The other thing that stood out was the level of confusion within the customer base about the actual functionality of the various hybridized and idle mitigation solutions. For example, there are “plug-in” hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) like the ones EDI develops, that allow vehicles to run as fully functional electric vehicles in zero emissions mode on the roads in the city and highway. These are fully functional electric vehicles with incremental long-range hybrid and power export capabilities. Then there are other types of “plug-in” hybrid vehicles that don’t have zero emissions traction capability - and they only plug in batteries that are used to power accessories at the job site to provide some engine idle reduction. They too, market their vehicles as “plug-in hybrids” and which has created an understandable level of confusion.

The idea that there is confusion, confirms the need for innovators to build awareness with end users to clearly articulate the values and differences of various technologies, so that the right solutions can be applied to the right applications. At EDI, we’re committed to developing true zero emissions capable vehicles for both traction and job site idle-free operation, but also with hundreds of miles of add-on hybrid range. We’ll also continue to partner with peer technology companies whenever that makes the most sense.
Joerg Ferchau, CEO
Efficient Drivetrains Inc.

Learn more about EDI’s product portfolio


EDI rounds out its utility solutions with a Class 3 PHEV truck

At the recent NTEA show, EDI announced the availability of a Class 3 PHEV utility truck capable of providing 100 percent OEM performance, while reducing emissions and fuel use by up to 80 percent. The vehicle is an industry-first PHEV, built upon one of the most popular Light Duty Class 3 Detroit OEM commercial fleet trucks and possesses 30-40 miles of all-electric range, and offers zero emissions during highway and city driving. It is also capable of generating power for idle-free stationary uses.


With the addition of a Class 3 truck, EDI’s line of high-performance PHEV is now available in three configurations, giving utility and telecom providers access to a wider range of vehicles to meet their needs.
Read the full press release:


EDI delivers 10 CNG PHEV buses in time for Lunar New Year

Contributed by guest author: Alysha Webb

On the heels of EDI’s recent certification of their low-cost, durable, compressed natural gas (CNG) PHEV bus, EDI delivered a production order of 10 buses to the Tongchuan 1st Public Transportation Inter-city Company of Tongchuan, China in February.


To facilitate delivery to their site, the Tongchuan 1st Public Transportation Inter-city Company sent 10 of their drivers to the EDI offices to pick up the buses and drive them back to the depot. After this initial journey, the company was so impressed with EDI’s technology that they opted out of a drivability test period and put the vehicles directly into service on commuter routes the very next day, during one of the busiest times for the mass transportation industry—Lunar New Year. Optimized for the low-speed, stop-and-go driving of inner-city operations, EDI’s CNG PHEV buses helped to ease transportation congestion, allowing local residents and tourists to travel effortlessly during the busy holiday season.

Built upon the foundation of the company’s proven EDI drivetrain, the buses were manufactured entirely in China with local components and EDI control systems. The mass transportation solution has been certified by the government of China after undergoing vehicle durability, performance, and emissions testing.

More information on the CNG PHEV official certification from the government of China can be found in our January 2015 newsletter.


American cities slowly warming to electric buses while China rushes ahead

Contributed by guest author: Alysha Webb

In early February, a large group gathered at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to take a short, silent ride on a bus. The event, sponsored by Chinese automaker BYD, was meant to show off the company’s new articulated 60-ft pure electric bus.

The bus was produced at a new plant in nearby Lancaster, California at BYD’s new plant. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority has already purchased five of BYD’s 40-ft electric buses. “They are undergoing testing and certification right now and should be in service within a month,” stated Macy Neshati, Vice President of Sales at BYD Bus and Coach. “We are talking to other cities about sales,” he added.

Municipal buses seem like a natural fit for electrification. They run set routes and return to the same place each night, so recharging is easy. Cities have been slow to bring them into their fleets, however, worried about the initial high cost and uncertain about the technology.

A growing number of cities are trying out electric buses, however, and the U.S. market for them is slowing expanding. Meanwhile, other countries are aggressively adding electric buses to municipal fleets.

Seattle is giving electric buses a try. King County Metro Transit, which includes Seattle, agreed last year to purchase two 40-ft pure electric buses from Proterra, a manufacturer based in South Carolina. The buses will arrive in the city this summer.

“The outcome of the testing will help us determine whether battery electric buses represent a promising future replacement option for our regular 40-ft diesel coaches,” said Rochelle Ogershok, a spokesperson for King County Metro.

Electric buses are already integrated into other city fleets. In January, Louisville, Kentucky began running 10 all-electric buses, also produced by Proterra, in its downtown area. The emission-free buses replaced the city’s diesel trolleys.

“Cities have not leapt on the electric bus bandwagon more enthusiastically because they are reluctant to bring in new technology and they worry about the cost,” said Rick Sikes, a consultant and former fleet superintendent for the City of Santa Monica, California. “Plug-in (electric) buses will become a big part of fleets when they put in the infrastructure for fast charging,” added Sikes.

Louisville already has. Its electric buses recharge in just a few minutes through two fast chargers installed along the route. The chargers are also produced by Proterra.

The technology isn’t cheap, however. Louisville paid $11 million for its 10 buses and two chargers. The majority of the funding came from the federal government, as is true in most of the U.S. cities trying out electric buses.


Booming global demand

The cost of electric buses is forecast to drop as battery technology improves, and the global market for pure electric and other electrified buses is expected to boom. Technology research firm TechNavio forecasts the global market for pure electric buses will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 16.26 percent from 2013 to 2018.

Market research firm IDTechEx predicts the market for medium- and large-sized hybrid and pure electric buses will be over $72 billion in 2025.

One country looms large in those forecasts: China. Its central government has mandated that 30 percent of new vehicle purchases by municipal fleets be new energy vehicles, including pure electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and hydrogen fuel cell buses. The Chinese government is also subsidizing new energy vehicle purchases.

That has created opportunity for U.S. firms with the right technology. Northern California’s Efficient Drivetrains Inc. is partnering with Shaanxi Automobile Group to produce a CNG plug-in hybrid electric bus for use in China. In January, EDI announced the bus -- which uses an EDI drivetrain -- had been certified in China.

Many Chinese cities already have electric buses in their fleets. Not unexpectedly, Shenzhen, where automaker BYD is headquartered, has what it claims is the world’s largest electric bus fleet.

Its goal is for electric buses to account for half of its fleet of 10,000 buses by the end of this year. BYD has already sold the city close to two thousand.

Other Chinese cities are also big BYD customers. Last May, the east China city of Hangzhou reportedly ordered 2,000 electric buses from BYD, and the northeast China city of Dalian is reported to have ordered 1,200 BYD buses.

China’s capitol city Beijing has also somewhat belatedly hopped on the clean fleet bandwagon. It has pledged to have 80 percent of its fleet of close to 14,000 buses running on clean energy by 2017, including some 4,000 electric buses.



Import/Export power for PHEV vs EV

The PHEV is a dual-fuel vehicle with both liquid and electrical energy storage. The goal of the PHEV is to displace as much liquid fuel as possible with electric energy derived from stationary sources. The reason for this is not immediately apparent because liquid fuel has 100 times higher energy content than the electrical energy on board a vehicle. For example, the Chevy Volt can go 35 miles on its 400 lb batteries but 300 miles on 60 lb of gasoline. However, 70 percent of the energy in gasoline is lost in heat used to drive the pistons of the engine. In contrast, the electric energy from the batteries goes more directly to the wheels. Thus the use of electric energy to drive the vehicle is 3 times more efficient than the liquid fuel. Therefore, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which use both fuels, has the advantages of both. The batteries can provide daily zero emission driving—which averages 30 miles per day—but use gasoline for longer trips. All manufactured PHEV systems are engineered to have the vehicle consume the stored electric energy first before using liquid fuel.

A second advantage for the PHEV is that it can be used for more than transportation if it has the proper hardware: it can be used to store electrical energy for other purposes with little effect on driving range. For example, the PHEV can be used to power a house, neighborhood, or factory, as well as provide power for driving. As a matter of fact, EDI has designed and demonstrated this level of capability with a 19,000 lb Ford 550 vehicle. The peak electric power available is 510 kW. EDI can export 120 kW continuously. This capability allows the PHEV to generate useful power for stationary uses such as homes and factories using its battery pack or its liquid fueled engine. Our trucks are designed to supply power during maintenance of the electrical system for the utility industry. The EDI PHEV can export up to 20 percent of this peak electrical power continuously.


The concept of export power can be scaled down to smaller passenger cars with about 20 kW peak electrical output. The challenge then is to explore the use of this capability for the user and conventional electric grid. How could this concept be used daily to enhance the lives of the passenger vehicle owners so that they get value for this capability? Here are some uses and applications for a compact-sedan vehicle that would have monetary value:

Emergency export power
A typical home requires a peak of about 20 kW, but its average use is only about 2 to 3 kW. This kind of power can be supplied by the battery of the PHEV since it has about 10 to 12 kW-hrs of useful energy, meaning a full battery pack can power an average home for 4 to 6 hours. And if longer time were needed, the gasoline engine would automatically come on to recharge the battery pack in about 30 minutes. When the price of gasoline is low, this means the owner can save money by powering his home using lower-cost electricity.

Using the PHEV battery to store energy from intermittent solar or wind generators
Renewable energy sources are problematic because they are inconsistent: the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. By storing energy from these sources when it is available, the PHEV battery can provide consistent energy to the user. For example, a 5 kW solar array may average 2 kW over a 10-hour day for about 20 kW-hrs of energy. The house may consume 10 kW-hrs and the rest, about 50 percent of the solar power generated, would normally be sent back to the power company at a low or discounted rate in exchange for the use of its infrastructure or wires. With a PHEV, this excess energy can instead be used to charge the batteries of the vehicle and the battery energy can be used to power the house later in the day when the sun goes down. This would be a much better and more flexible deal for the home and PHEV owner. To make this work, the PHEV needs to be programmed to leave enough charge capability to absorb the excess solar when it occurs and must be able to export power back to the house when needed later. This is possible with a PHEV because of its dual energy capability with liquid fuel. Thus there is no range anxiety issue with the PHEV, and by not sending excess energy back to the power company, money is saved daily. Thus the batteries of the PHEV serve a dual use to power the home and the vehicle. It does require a little excess battery capability or you may use a little bit of gasoline daily. Management of the battery to allow this is simple but requires a bidirectional charger and reprogramming of the system controller.

Vacation home or remote location power use during road trips
Convenient conventional electric tools or appliances such as hair dryers, etc. can be used at any time in the PHEV with this capability.

Other uses

Charging other pure electric cars can be done by the PHEV with this export power.

Thus the PHEV with export power capability allows the integration of stationary and mobile energy use. If properly managed it can also use fully renewable energy generated by the wind or sun directly for transportation and home use. By using energy generated locally, it makes minimum use of the electric grid.

If this concept becomes popular, the electric utilities may wish to adapt by servicing and maintaining all electrical components from the solar or wind generators to the energy management system of the home including the PHEV.
Professor Andy Frank, CTO
Efficient Drivetrains, Inc.


April 21-22, Green Transportation Summit, Portland, OR

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