A prize-winning hybrid technology puts a Toyota Prius-like spin on the tractor trailer.
Tractor-trailers currently receive 6.5 miles per gallon, and according to the TruckersReport industry forum, a commercial truck can easily consume more than $70,000 of diesel fuel per year.
Hyliion, based in Pittsburgh, PA, created an add-on system that will help truck fleets to reduce gas emissions and fuel costs. Regenerative braking captures and reuses power to help the truck move uphill.
Thomas Healy, CEO and founder of Hyliion, won the 2016 “Create the Future” design contest .
From a technology perspective, what do you think makes your design special?
Thomas Healy: Our hybrid electric technology is designed to be an add-on or retrofit solution to the trucking industry. We go in and replace the rear axle underneath the trailer with an electric-drive axle that is coupled to a battery box and a control box. That works alongside the diesel engine to always try to keep the diesel engine in its optimal performance band.
It’s this theory of almost creating a Toyota Prius, where you have your gas engine and your electric engine. We’re doing it in a way, however, where you can keep that existing truck you already own, and just add our system on and make it a hybrid. You don’t have to go out and buy a brand-new tractor trailer.
What is exciting to you about this technology?
Thomas Healy: The trucking industry operates on very low profit margins. If you’re going to have new, hybrid-electric technology, it needs to be something that can pay for itself quickly and have a fast ROI for the fleet.
We created a product that we can lease to a fleet, and it will save them more money in fuel each month than they’ll spend on the lease; for the fleet, it’s almost like adopting a technology for free.
Also, when you look at the environmental impacts, trucking/transportation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. We’re able to reduce trucking’s fuel consumption by 30 percent; you have that same net effect of how much you can reduce CO2 emissions.
What's next for the Hyliion system?
Thomas Healy: We’re at the stage where we’re starting to deploy products. If you’re in the Northeast, there’s a chance that you’ve seen a tractor trailer labeled “Hyliion” going down the road. We’re transitioning to deploying it to fleet. In the next few months, the units will start hitting the road on customers’ tractor trailers.
Learn more about Hyllion’s hybrid system .
Hyliion was the grand prize winner of the 2016 Create the Future Design Contest. Your big idea could be next. Sign up for your chance to win ,000 .