When looking to reduce his fleet’s carbon footprint and cut fuel costs, Paul Szymczak heard about XL Hybrids through his fleet management company.
“We did some research and were impressed with the product,” says Szymczak, general manager of Climatemp Service Group. “We had never used any type of alternative fuel or never had any hybrid vehicles in the fleet.”
Covering the metropolitan Chicago area, Climatemp performs HVAC maintenance services for commercial and industrial companies. According to Szymczak, his 20-vehicle fleet (18 Chevrolet Express vans, one box truck, and one pickup) services over 450 facilities in a service area that spans a diameter of about 150 miles. Each service van travels around 20,000 miles per year.
As a test program, Climatemp has converted four of its Chevrolet Express service vans to the XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System. “Thanks to XL Hybrids, we’re now able to deliver on our promise in a greener, cleaner way,” says Szymczak.
The system uses regenerative braking and assist. Every time the vehicle brakes, the system’s electric motor generator helps to slow the vehicle down — while charging the battery pack.
“When the driver presses the accelerator, the system is using that stored electrical energy to help propel the vehicle via the electrical motor,” says Clay Siegert, co-founder and chief operating officer at XL Hybrids.
Benefits for Metropolitan Driving
With his fleet’s metropolitan driving, Szymczak has already seen an improvement in fuel economy and better mpg with the electric drive systems. A mix of urban, suburban, and congested highway driving fits the system well — the long starts and stops get better use of the regenerative braking and assist, according to Siegert.
“At this early stage since the vehicle conversions, we are seeing an approximate 18% mpg improvement from XL Hybrids’ technology,” says Szymczak. “We’re pleased with the results because we are saving on fuel, and our drivers are more efficient since they are spending less time at the pump.”
Depending on the amount of urban driving, a fleet could see up to a 25% improvement for mpg, according to Siegert. Some fleets — with a heavy urban drive cycle — have even seen close to a 28% improvement in their average miles per gallon.
Improving mpg and creating greener vehicles aren’t the only benefits that XL Hybrids’ electric drive systems can provide to fleets.
The regenerative braking process can extend a vehicle’s OEM-rated brake life because the brakes aren’t being used as hard or as much as normally, according to Siegert.
“Because brakes aren’t used as much during the regenerative braking process, it pushes out service intervals for that vehicle,” says Siegert. “This can translate into brake savings.”
The electric drive systems can also help improve driver productivity. With greater fuel economy, fleet drivers will spend less time at the pump fueling up. That translates into a dollar value that can be spent on generating more revenue: a fleet driver is spending more time on the road doing his or her job, according to Siegert.
Each of Climatemp’s vans is equipped with XL Link, XL Hybrids’ cloud-based fleet vehicle connectivity and analytics system. The system can measure a fleet’s MPG performance, fuel savings, and carbon dioxide reduction.
“We will work with Climatemp to share data with them and be proactive in measuring performance and customer service in the field,” says Siegert.
No Special Training
For Szymczak, it was convenient that each of his vans could be converted in less than a day. That way, he didn’t have to cut back on business by losing a vehicle for several workdays.
Climatemp’s installations took about six to eight hours per van, according to Siegert. It’s a less complicated installation since XL Hybrids leaves the automaker’s complete powertrain intact (engine, fuel system, exhaust system, and transmission). The electric drive system runs about $10,000 for Ford and GM vans.
There is no special training once the system is installed. As soon as the van was delivered, Szymczak’s employees could start driving the van as normal. Szymczak plans to convert another batch of his Express vans in the next few months.