Newsletter – March / April 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 an update on a recent Clean Cities Coalition meeting, we follow our utility trucks to a recent electric ride & drive day, and explore bi-directional charging, and the future of PHEV regulations.


CEO Corner, Point of View

Our Mission? Zero Emissions!

After participating in a number of recent customer presentations, I’ve come to realize that there is still a lot of confusion in the marketplace regarding electrified vehicles, hybrid technologies, and all of the related considerations such as HVAC, idle elimination, ePTO, V2G, and more.


Fortunately, our customers are beginning to understand that EDI’s innovation isn’t just about plug-in hybrids or electrifying vehicles - it’s about engineering some of the finest zero emissions, fully electric vehicles available in the market today. They operate in the city and on the highway with full electrical performance and don’t require engines to run HVAC, accessories, or tools. At the same time, they also include advanced features such as highly efficient parallel and series hybrid range extension options and high levels of synchronized AC power export and two-way charging.

The reason the differentiation of EDI’s approach is significant is that while there are many “plug-in hybrid” options in the market, many of those don’t address the “Zero Emissions Mission” and they may have substantial performance limitations such as: limited full electrical top speed, no zero emissions traction capability, only an electrical assist for launch, limited ePTO or idle elimination capability, etc.
In our work with visionary organizations like CARB and PG&E, we see their drive to arrive at a zero emissions transportation future which also aligns with EDI’s mission. In collaboration with our customers, EDI has already developed a variety of fully functional Zero Emissions capable vehicles with range extension options for highway and city buses, logistics trucks, utility worktrucks, SUVs, and sedans. We’ll be continuing that innovation going forward but always with a mission of providing drivetrains for superior, full functionality, zero emissions capable vehicles.
Joerg Ferchau, CEO
Efficient Drivetrains Inc.

Learn more about EDI’s product portfolio


EDI hosts the Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition

EDI hosted over 40 members of the Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition at our Dixon office on March 19th as part of the SCCC’s monthly stakeholder meeting. Participants included members of the Clean Cities leadership team, as well as several fleet managers from Sacramento, Davis, Chico, and surrounding areas.

The agenda included announcements by Tim Taylor, the Vice Chair of the SCCC, an EDI presentation by Charlie Travis, a Q&A session with the fleet managers fielded by Charlie Travis and Andy Frank, as well as a shop tour supported by the team in Dixon.


The group enjoyed high quality discussions regarding EDI’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and the team has already received several follow on requests from event participants. We hope that EDI’s utility and telecom solutions have motivated members of the Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition to continue the pursuit of cost-effectively reducing fossil petroleum use.
Read the full press release:


Track the Trucks

EDI’s utility work truck solution featured at Electric Vehicle Day

Efficient Drivetrains’s PHEV work truck solution created exclusively for PG&E was recently showcased as part of Electric Vehicle Day at the San Ramon Valley Conference Center on March 4th. The event featured current electrified models from a range of automotive manufacturers as part of PG&E’s efforts to encourage its employees to adopt electric vehicles and to promote the utility’s special EV rate plans and workplace electric vehicle charging station program.

EDI’s utility work truck solution is an industry-first plug-in hybrid electric Class 5 work truck with 120kW of exportable power. It is currently being used by PG&E to shorten or eliminate planned and unplanned power outages for up to 100 homes at a time and to reduce fuel costs and emissions. PG&E will deploy nine additional EDI trucks throughout its service area in Dixon, California and one in the Bay Area later this year.

A recent write up is available on the Transmission and Distribution World website.

For more information on the technology running PG&E’s green fleet, check out EDI’s utility work truck solution page


EDI at the NTEA Green Truck Summit

To further Efficient Drivetrain’s mission of greening America’s fleets, Joerg Ferchau, CEO of EDI, served as a panelist at the Green Truck Summit sponsored by the Association for the Work Truck Industry (NTEA) on March 3rd. The Green Truck Summit is held in conjunction with The Work Truck Show, North America’s largest work truck event, and is the leading educational forum on how the green revolution impacts vocational trucks.

The panel focused on the fuel savings and benefits of the electrification of vehicle systems, truck-mounted equipment, and worksite operations. While experienced utility fleet managers shared the benefits of electrifying work trucks, Joerg brought a unique perspective, providing a look at the future of vehicle electrification.
“Using electrified vehicles diminishes fuel costs, significantly reduces emissions, and creates a quieter and safer workplace. It is my hope that this panel discussion at NTEA has inspired fleet owners to consider greening their vehicles,” commented Joerg Ferchau.

For more information on the Green Truck Summit, please visit the NTEA homepage. To find out more about Efficient Drivetrain’s energy solutions, please check out the EDI Solutions page.


Bi-directional charging a possible game-changer in the EV world

By Alysha Webb, Contributing Author
Plug-in vehicles possess an ability that many of us wish we had – they can earn money while they are just sitting around. An electric car’s battery is storing energy when the car isn’t being driven. What if that battery could produce energy for the grid while stationary, as well as consuming it when being driven?

The concept of the car as a “Prosumer” isn’t new, but it hasn’t become a reality because of several obstacles. Those are beginning to come down, however.

One obstacle is that the way electricity is sold doesn’t lend itself to bi-directional charging, as the function of a vehicle both drawing and discharging electricity is known.


“The whole problem is there are not tariffs or market mechanisms to facilitate (bi-directional charging) further,” said Christine Hertzog, managing director at the Smart Grid Library, a consultancy focused on machine-to-machine transmission. “The EV tariffs we have are unidirectional.”

Some electric vehicles are already exporting power, but not selling it back to the grid. Trucks equipped with a plug-in electric vehicle drivetrain developed by Efficient Drivetrains (EDI) can generate up to 120 kilowatts of electricity. Trucks with that capability are being tested by PG&E, a utility in Northern California.

PG&E’s electrical grid is not buying the power from the EDI trucks, however. Rather, the utility sees it as backup power that can light up a neighborhood when it shuts down the grid to make repairs.

The social and business benefits of bi-directional charging would be enormous, said EDI founder and chief technical officer professor Andy Frank. "The issue is how to transition from the current ‘consumer’ business model to the ‘prosumer’ business model seamlessly with everyone jumping onboard the concept,” he said. The interesting thing, he added, is that some utilities are already buying electricity generated by their customers’ solar panels. But they haven’t made the leap to EVs.
Changing the equation
Bi-directional charging technology has already been proven to work. The University of Delaware, Delaware Power, and California-based EV Grid, California-based company, showed that with a fleet of BMW’s Mini-E EVs equipped with bi-directional charging. Under the “Grid on Wheels” program, the utility bought electricity from leasees of the Mini-E EVs .

The program never went past pilot stage, however. Tom Gage, founder and president of EV Grid, said the reluctance of automakers to produce and sell electric vehicles is one reason for the slow spread of bi-directional charging. That is changing, however. More plug-in electric consumer vehicle models are being launched, and sales are slowly rising.

A bigger problem is the electric utility business model, which is “not compatible” with the concept, said Gage. Widespread use of bi-directional charging requires “quite a few changes with the utilities and the automakers,” he said.

Some utilities are already working to make bi-directional charging a reality. SoCal Edison is taking part in a U.S. Department of Defense-funded project at Los Angeles Air Force base.

In the project, 32 electric vehicles will feed energy back into the grid in response to signals. When the grid tells the vehicles there is excess capacity, the EVs will ramp up their battery charging. SoCal Edison will bill the base for the retail service and pass any payments for the electricity on to the Department of Defense.

“There’s a convergence taking place between regulatory policy involving air quality and carbon emissions, and rapidly evolving battery technology,” said Lisa Cagnolatti, vice president of SoCal Edison’s business customer division in a press release. “Add the fact that customers are opting for greater fuel efficiency and cleaner fuel sources, and the stage is set for V2G.”

The electricity will start its bi-directional flow in this summer, and continue for one year. SoCal Edison will use the data to see if the electric vehicles can help reduce total costs for the fleet.

There is already some evidence it could. A Department of Defense study estimated the value of using bi-directional charging with an electric sedan to be $150 per month, while a different study put that benefit at $100 per month.

If either of those estimates is proven, it could be a big boost for electric vehicles, said the Smart Grid Library’s Hertzog. “What if your car is an asset that can actually earn money for you?” she said. “That is quite a change in the equation.”
To find out more about Efficient Drivetrain’s energy solutions, please check out the EDI Solutions page.



The Future of Government PHEV Regulations

The EDI Drive™ system is configured for a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) or Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV). As such, they are dual fuel vehicles capable of using two external fuel sources. Currently, these fuel sources are electricity and some sort of fossil fuel.

Emissions were originally defined as gases emitted from the exhaust pipe of a road going vehicle. They were to be measured on a driving cycle that represented how people would drive a standard vehicle daily going to work. The average driver in the days when the regulations were enacted in the 1960’s drove 7.5 miles in about 20 minutes. This and similar driving cycles were then set and used to this day to evaluate emissions from all vehicles at their tailpipe, assuming that this would be all the emissions that were necessary to regulate. Large trucks and buses were treated differently in that they were concerned about the engine emissions in grams per horsepower hour of energy created by the engine.


All these programs assumed that there is only one source of energy and that source would come from fossil fuel. This assumption held true until the development of the PHEV, which uses two energy sources. According to the philosophy outlined, since electric energy would have zero emissions from the tailpipe, it should not be counted. But then if the electric energy could drive the vehicle farther than the 7.5 miles, the vehicle should be rated at zero emissions…but this is clearly not right.

So it is my opinion that rather than trying to adapt the PHEV emission rating to the existing rules, regulations, and certification, there should be a method to capture the essence of the PHEV, which is to replace fossil fuel with electric fuel or energy. Now that almost 5 years have past since the introduction of the Chevrolet Volt, we now have data on how PHEV’s are used by various segments of society. Most people are plugging their Volt in to an electrical outlet when they are parked some 20 hours a day and finding their liquid fuel consumption is over 100 miles per gallon. This means that the Volt uses less than 1/3 the liquid fuel of a conventional similar car. Then assuming that the engine technology is about the same, it would be logical to assume that the emission characteristics are also 1/3. No rules to this day have yet been developed for the PHEV except to let it be rated as an HEV, assuming it uses no electricity from the electric grid. So emission ratings of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are at best defaulted to an HEV where no credit is given for electric fuel or energy use, and at worst are measured in a way that does not match realistic use.

The main benefits of PHEV are in the ability of the PHEV to displace fossil fuel with electric energy. Then as time goes on the PHEV all-electric range can be increased and the fossil fuel use can be decreased. But electric fuel or energy can be directly replaced using locally generated electricity from solar and wind at zero emissions. In addition, the liquid fossil fuel can be replaced by biofuel with zero CO2 emissions.

Thus I suggest that proper rules to encourage the use of PHEV’s for all classes of vehicles be set up by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) to address the rising numbers of PHEV’s in society.
Professor Andy Frank, CTO
Efficient Drivetrains, Inc.


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

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