Partnership set to provide hybrid systems for fleet vehicles

Hydraulic Hybrid Systems LLC (HHS), a subsidiary of Lightning Hybrids Inc., Loveland, Colo., has created a partnership with Equipment Maintenance Innovators (EMI-Global) to distribute its hydraulic hybrid retrofit systems.

This partnership brings together two Colorado companies to manufacture and distribute fuel-efficient hydraulic hybrid technology for light and medium duty fleet vehicles. The hydraulic hybrid systems are designed to save fleets millions of dollars a year in fuel costs by providing fuel mileage increases of more than 40% and greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to a vehicle’s fuel mileage prior to the retrofit.

“Hydraulic hybrids have been around for a while, but there has been no reason until now to explore these kinds of technologies,” stated Richard LeFrancois, founder and president of EMI-Global. “Now is the time to move forward with hydraulics because of the push to cut emissions and dependence on foreign oil. Batteries just cannot address issues for fleets at the scale we need.”

Denver International Airport recently provided the first truck to be retrofitted with the hydraulic hybrid system, a 2002 Chevrolet HD 2500 fueled by compressed natural gas. The hybrid system is currently being installed and tested, and the truck prototype will be put back into runway service early this month.

Loveland-based Lightning Hybrids began engineering a biodiesel hydraulic hybrid vehicle that combined a small biodiesel engine with a 150-hp hydraulic pump on a lightweight sports sedan in late 2008. To read more and see videos about the vehicle, visit and click on the May 2009 issue in the archive.

“We explored the opportunity and found a need for fuel and emissions savings in the light-duty fleet market,” said Johnson. “A hydraulic hybrid retrofit system is an excellent answer in situations where the light duty fleet vehicle does a lot of start and stop driving, such as city and state fleet vehicles, vocational and contractor trucks and vans, mining and oil field vehicles, and school buses.”

In late April 2009, Lightning Hybrids’ engineering team started the design and implementation of a hydraulic hybrid system that could be applied to fleet vehicles. Lightning Hybrids established Hydraulic Hybrid Systems LLC in July to manage the manufacturing and distribution of the system.

Although HHS is currently the only provider of hydraulic hybrid retrofits and systems for light-duty vehicles, these hybrids are already available from several manufacturers for new heavy-duty trucks (delivery trucks and refuse trucks), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed and tested hydraulic hybrid vehicles in the past.

HHS also currently has a 2008 Chevy Silverado HD 2500 in its shop that will serve as a demonstration vehicle. The truck is stripped down almost to a bare chassis and has a Plexiglas floorboard to show the system as it works. Other vehicle platforms will be prototyped in the near future to meet the needs of current fleets. The system will be manufactured in 2010. After manufacture, the systems will be installed and maintained by mechanics trained by HHS.

So far, test data on the system show that adding it to a vehicle:

• Does not affect the existing safety rating of the vehicle. In fact, it improves braking safety due to the back-up braking system and increased acceleration performance
• Improves vehicle reliability because it adds another power source,
• Increases fuel efficiency up to 40% for general non-highway uses,
• Does not affect the emissions systems of the vehicle, and
• Reduces CO2 emissions by 40%.

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