CNG-PHEV Technology Coming

We’ve seen PHEV, diesel-hybrid and natural gas powered vehicles. How about combining compressed natural gas and EV technologies?

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) just did so, announcing a partnership to develop a class-4 vehicle that combines the benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology.

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) describes itself as a global leader in advanced, high-efficiency PHEV and continuously variable transmission (CVT) solutions.

In partnership with Greenkraft, CALSTART, and the California Energy Commission, EDI said the collaboration supports the rapid movement in California toward a zero emissions environment. The effort is said to combine EDI’s intelligent PHEV powertrain with Greenkraft’s CNG-powered 14,500-pound, class-4 medium-duty truck.

EDI added its solution can improve the fuel economy of a conventional CNG-powered medium-duty truck by more than 40 percent.

“EDI’s CNG-PHEV is a first-of-its-kind innovation, and represents an entirely new market application for EDI’s proprietary technology,” said Joerg Ferchau, co-founder and CEO of EDI. “The CNG-PHEV delivers a market-disruptive vehicle that will help fleets switch from petroleum-based liquid fuels—gasoline and diesel—to domestically available, cleaner-burning natural gas and electricity. Technology possesses tremendous potential for commercial viability and can play an essential role in helping California meet its long-term carbon reduction and short-term zero-emissions goals.”

In certain duty cycles with shorter daily mileage requirements or where periodic plug-in recharging is possible throughout the day, it may even be possible to completely eliminate the use of CNG, explained EDI, achieving 100-percent all-electric zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) operations, and achieve an effective MPGe of 26.9—an improvement of 300 percent over the baseline CNG truck.

EDI added its announcement came simultaneously with a grant approval for the combined partnership by the California Energy Commission of funding from its Energy Research and Development Division. The approved $900,000 grant, supports the state directive to accelerate research and development of advanced natural gas engine-hybrid electric vehicles for light- and heavy-duty applications.