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NEWSLETTER: September 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.
In this Issue:
In this month’s edition of our newsletter, we feature innovation as a key topic. As a fundamental guiding principle to EDI, rather than focusing on building products first, we take a step back and think about the problems our customers face and how we can right-size EDI technologies to best solve their challenges.
This month we’ve captured some of our latest customer stories, corporate news, and market updates.
CEO Corner, Point of View
Innovate or Die
The mantra “innovate or die” certainly sounds extreme when taken on its own, but when you’re working to position into a new market, it’s absolutely essential. It’s a driving force that leads to the fresh products and technologies that capture the attention of the marketplace and which also creates new opportunity for end users and suppliers alike. It also avoids the situation where the primary competitive strategy is only cost -which in turn can produce negative margins, weak companies, and technology stagnation which creates yet another negative spiral.
At the same time, Innovation can’t just be about adding technology, features, and functions either. It has to be about creating real solutions in exciting new ways that the market cares about and which offers value that rewards the customers who acquire them.
A key aspect of EDI’s progress in rolling out new solutions has been the focus we’ve maintained on working with our customers to realistically assess market drivers and requirements and then to apply our technologies with a focus on innovation that leads directly to our customer’s ability to capture new markets, increase their market share, or to disrupt the status quo with something that provides new choices.
Working to the mantra of “innovate or die” while focusing on our customer’s understanding of their market environments, has allowed EDI to develop exciting new products such as the PHEV highway buses which can have fuel savings of over 40% in the city, PHEV CNG buses and trucks which run on dual alternative fuels, new PHEV work truck solutions which have the ability to reduce emissions by over 80%, or electric vehicles which operate with smaller lower cost motors when using our special transmissions.
“Innovate or Die” is both a strategy and a core belief at EDI and we are excited and incredibly full of anticipation in seeing what we will co-create with our customers in the months ahead.
Joerg Ferchau, CEO
Efficient Drivetrains Inc.
Learn more about EDI’s product portfolio
Pacific Gas and Electric partners with EDI to produce innovative plug-in hybrid electric work truck that eliminates jobsite engine idling and cuts emissions by 80%
Recently, EDI revolutionized the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) space with the development of the world’s first light-duty, 4-mode parallel-series PHEV truck. Now, building on that foundation and in collaboration with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), EDI has developed the first Class-5, 4WD PHEV utility work truck.
PG&E was looking for a way to reduce the emissions of its 20,000 pound work trucks by at least 80%, while maintaining complete vehicle functionality. With a daily duty cycle that includes roughly 35 miles of driving, and 8-10 hours of jobsite engine idling to power the boom life and other accessories, these trucks are the workhorse of PG&E-and responsible for a significant amount of the company’s GHG emissions.
EDI has partnered with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the California Energy Commission to develop a variety of innovative work truck solutions based upon EDI’s world-first medium-duty PHEV drivetrain. Built upon a Ford F-550 platform, the new PHEV work truck possesses 30 miles of all-electric range and enough battery capacity to operate vehicle accessories—including the boom—for up to 10 hours a day without idling the base diesel engine. Available in two major configurations—both of which come standard with 35+ miles of all-electric range—the new work truck offers more power and performance than PG&E’s conventional diesel work trucks, while enabling PG&E to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent.
Learn more about EDI’s utility and telecom solutions
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) visits our Dixon, California Innovation Lab
Recently, a group of executives from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) paid a visit to our Dixon, California Innovation lab. Accompanied by the PG&E team sponsoring our utility work truck project, members of the EEI were able to view a live demo of the trucks in action.
The demonstration featured two of EDI’s world’s first innovations: Class-5, 4WD PHEV utility work trucks, the first with enough battery capacity to power the vehicle accessories for up to 10 hours, without ever idling the base diesel engine, and the second with the ability to export up to 120kW of AC power, enough electricity to power a neighborhood. Viewers were able to see the trucks operating in real-case scenarios, with the boom and many of the vehicle accessories fully functioning 100% on electricity, and the power export truck charging 6 hybrid vehicles, industrial strength fans, and more.
The EEI became interested in viewing the latest EDI innovation as a result of positive feedback from PG&E. “We have worked with many manufacturers, but EDI is the first company that has been able to deliver a vehicle that meets all of our requirements. This new work truck will not only improve our fleet operations, but also help us better serve our customers,” said Dave Meisel Senior Director of Transportation and Aviation Services for PG&E.
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is responsible for advocating public policy, expanding market opportunities, and providing strategic business information related to the electric power industry. The association comprises membership of all US investor-owned electric companies, with its member base providing electricity for 220 million Americans in all 50 states.
Learn more about EDI’s utility and telecom solutions
Natural gas fueling infrastructure gets boost from private companies
Contributed by guest author: Alysha Webb
Talk about glass half empty, glass half full! That phrase could have been coined to describe attitudes towards the state of the natural gas fueling infrastructure in the United States. One thing everyone can agree upon, however: We need more infrastructure. It is growing, however. And while government policy has been the main impetus behind fueling infrastructure expansion, as more private companies add natural gas vehicles to their fleets they are also becoming important drivers in the growth of natural gas stations.
“Infrastructure is the main barrier to greater usage” of natural gas as a commercial vehicle fuel, says Frank Ziegler, director of sales and marketing at Greenkraft Inc.
Greenkraft produces a wide range of compressed natural gas and liquid propane gas-fueled trucks as well as a fuel delivery system that goes on top of GM and Ford platforms to convert heavy-duty pickups to natural gas or propane.
California has 228 CNG stations, according to the America’s Natural Gas Alliance website. The Alliance is composed of North America’s leading natural gas exploration and production companies. By comparison, Utah has 84, Texas has 36, and Iowa has zero CNG stations.
The lack of a good refueling infrastructure has made the natural gas-fueled vehicles at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach very unpopular, says Ricardo Long, sales manager at the Freightliner Used Truck Center at Selecttrucks Las Vegas.
There are two types of natural gas fuel, compressed natural gas and liquid natural gas. CNG is more widely used because it is easier to store. LNG provides longer range, but must be cryogenically held. Handling it requires training and special clothing. It is predominately used in Class 8 vehicles, says Long.
Glass half full of natural gas
Clean Energy Fuels Corp, a Nasdaq-listed company whose business is to build CNG and LNG stations and to manufacture equipment for itself and others, is naturally in the glass half full camp. According to the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company it opened 27 natural gas in the first half of 2014, and has approximately 200 fueling stations nationwide. Clean Energy is developing “America’s Natural Gas Highway,” a network of stations across the country.
It issues a steady stream of press releases announcing new fleet customers and new stations. For example, in mid-June Clean Energy announced the opening of a new CNG station in El Paso, Tex. Heavy-duty LNG trucks can now travel from Los Angeles to Houston on the I-10 using its stations, claims Clean Energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are currently 1,422 CNG stations in the U.S. representing a growth rate of 84 percent since 2009. There are 99 LNG stations, a growth rate of 175 percent. “The growth rate is strong and can be directly correlated to the discovery of natural gas in the United States,” says Charlie Riedi, director of transportation and equipment at the America’s Natural Gas Alliance.
High-mileage, heavy-duty vehicles are the fastest growing segment of vehicles using natural gas, says Riedi. But, he says, the return on investment makes the most sense for vehicles that travel 30,000 miles a year. Refuse, public transit, and regional haul fleets are the primary segments adopting natural gas, says Riedi.
Natural gas can also be combined with other alternative fuels in ways that can compensate for the current lack of a comprehensive refueling structure. Greenkraft is working with Efficient Drivetrains Inc. to produce a Class 4 medium-duty truck with a natural gas-plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The combination of natural gas, a hybrid drivetrain, and the ability to drive on pure electricity can boost fuel efficiency by up to 300 percent compared to a CNG-only truck, according to EDI. Says Battersby: “That is a wonderful idea. It gives you more options and options are the way you achieve success with alternative fuels.”
Our Heritage of Design Excellence and Innovation
EDI’s heritage of innovation and commitment to design excellence covers a portfolio of hybrid vehicle concepts (Battery Electric, flywheel CVT, and Hydraulic or Air Pressure Hybrid systems), and Electric steering concepts (vehicle stability all-wheel drive, electronic braking, etc.)
An underlying design principle in EDI’s technology is to retain the proven vehicle control systems of the past, while new intelligent electronically controlled systems are implemented to increase accuracy, controllability and effort. By maintaining the fundamentals of the original control system that has been tried and proven, EDI technology satisfies all liability laws, but is also enhanced with electronic and computer controls for robustness. Alternatively, companies developing new technologies have to prove physical fail-safe measures within the liability courts before they can enter the mass market. Recent events in the auto industry are examples of advanced technology failures, where the backup systems are no longer present, or behave in an uncontrollable fashion causing injury and sometimes death.
EDI designs incorporate the proven methodologies of the past but are electronically advanced, providing higher functionality and fidelity, but revert to original concepts in the unlikely event that electronic systems suddenly fail. Driver safety is ensured, while providing higher performance and features not otherwise attainable.
The company continues to focus on the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, PHEV, as a major area of design. The Philosophy is to design for liquid fuel displacement with electricity and energy efficiency simultaneously while minimizing the cost and system complexity. EDI will continue to design systems that are advanced in concept, but which also maintain the safety and reliability of existing vehicle systems.