XL Hybrids gets deal with Coke to retrofit trucks
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola will use technology made by XL Hybrids Inc., a Boston start-up with ties to MIT, to retrofit 100 of the soft drink giant’s service vans to run on electric power.
The hybrid powertrain systems, worth about $8,000 each when bought in bulk, generally help cut fuel use by roughly 20 percent, said Todcq Hynes, president of XL Hybrids. The technology works by capturing the energy generated by braking, converting it into usable power, then storing it in a lithium-ion battery pack until that power is needed to accelerate.
Bruce Karas,cq Coca-Cola’s vice president of environment and sustainability, said the hybrid technology will help the company meet it goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 25 percent by the end of the decade.
“We continue to make energy-saving investments because they are good for business, good for the communities we serve and good for the planet,” Karas said in a statement.
Founded by MIT graduates, XL Hybrids has until now mainly tested its technology on a small scale: Canadian Linen, a uniform rental and supply subsidiary of AmeriPride Services in Minnesota, has been using the start-up’s technology on several of its Chevy Express vans since August; XL Hybrids has also retrofitted 10 FedEx vans.
“Our company’s goal is to accelerate fuel and emissions reductions at a large scale,” said Justin Ashton, vice president of business development at XL Hybrids.
The challenge will be attracting enough orders from customers in the long-run. That’s because the battery market has been extremely competitive since the recession, when gas prices plummeted from their $4-plus peaks and demand for electric vehicles failed to materialize at the high levels predicted before the economy’s collapse. Other local battery-technology companies, including Boston-Power and A123 Systems, have had to turn to China to remain competitive.