ALTe Powertrain Technologies (ALTe), the developer of the first range-extended plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) powertrain for light commercial fleet vehicle applications, announced March 22 that it has successfully installed its powertrain system in a second line of vehicles: the Ford Econoline E-350 platform.
ALTe reports that it has already successfully implemented conversions in Ford F-150 trucks, which have been driven by dozens of potential fleet customers. This new line will offer more choices to fleet managers who seek to convert their fleets to a PHEV.
ALTe began engineering development on the Ford E-350 platform in late 2011 reflecting the popularity of this vehicle in the fleet industry. There are currently more than 125,000 E-350 vans of the 2004-2010 model years registered to corporate, government and utility fleet owners in the U.S. Because fleets typically drive two to five times the average miles of retail and individual consumers, the fuel consumption, emissions reductions and financial returns for this target market are significant.
“This successful conversion is another example of how ALTe’s plug-in electric hybrid powertrain will revolutionize the fleet industry,” said John Thomas, CEO and co-founder of ALTe. “With this new conversion, ALTe sees a huge opportunity to reach more fleet customers and show them how their used fleet vehicles can gain a second life with better fuel economy when equipped with an ALTe powertrain.”
ALTe’s road tests revealed that this E-350 cutaway chassis prototype can drive approximately 25 miles in an all-electric mode and then deliver nearly 15 mpg in a charge-sustained mode. These performance levels should continue to improve as ALTe incorporates production level components and refines various engineering algorithms. For a typical fleet vehicle that drives 45 miles per day, the combined mode fuel economy would be more than 30 mpg, while a similar Ford E-350 cutaway chassis with a V8 engine is only able to achieve less than 9 mpg, based on data provided by major fleets.
ALTe will deliver the E-350 prototype to its first potential fleet customer for evaluation this month, with plans to build more prototypes for customer evaluations throughout the year. ALTe continues to target a spring 2013 product launch date for the U.S. market.
The national average price of regular unleaded has remained flat at $2.86 per gallon for the week ending Aug. 13 in which consumer demand fell and gasoline inventories increased for the first time in six weeks, according to AAA.