The University of California-Davis has licensed a new plug-in hybrid vehicle technology to Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI) of Palo Alto, CA. EDI was founded in 2006 to commercialize the technology brought about by decades of work by Andy Frank, professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering at UC Davis.
Unlike hybrid-electric vehicles currently on the market, plug-in hybrids can recharge their batteries from a domestic power supply, allowing most short-range trips to be completed on electric power alone. Frank's designs for a "parallel" hybrid powertrain allow for significant increases in fuel efficiency. The licensing package also includes an "intelligent" continuously variable transmission that
automatically selects the right power ratio and eliminates gear shifting.
Plug-in hybrid technology offers a solution to the problem of shifting from transportation powered by oil to vehicles powered by electricity. "The plug-in hybrid displaces more oil than any other technique,
without a change in infrastructure," Frank said. EDI hopes to establish its own automotive research and development center in Davis. The company plans to partner with auto designers and manufacturers in
order to introduce advanced plug-in hybrid technologies into their vehicles.