Nov. 26, 2007: Source – The California Aggie

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The fruits of over three decades of research at the University of California, Davis have produced what many regard as the most cutting-edge plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) technology. These advancements, developed by Dr. Andrew Frank, professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, have now been licensed to Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI), with the hopes of quickly putting that technology on the road.

EDI, located in Palo Alto, CA, and founded in March 2006, was created in order to commercialize PHEV technologies for the global market. "EDI’s goal is to accelerate the global development and adoption of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to address the issues related to global climate change, depleting oil supplies and rapidly increasing fuel prices," said Joerg Ferchau, chief executive officer of EDI. Dr. Frank, a pioneer in the world of plug-in hybrids, is the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer. He constructed his first hybrid electric vehicle as early as 1972.

Unlike today’s hybrids, plug-in hybrids can be charged from the electric grid or directly from solar panels. In addition, PHEVs often use a smaller, more efficient combustion engine, a larger electric motor, and more batteries. "It also includes hardware and control concepts to make it the most efficient way to provide mobile power the way people want," said Frank. The result is a further improvement in mileage—perhaps breaking the 100-mpg mark—and reduced emissions beyond hybrid vehicles currently available to consumers.

For this technology to make a positive impact on oil consumption or the environment, it needs to get it out of the research lab and into cars driven by the public. That’s where EDI might come in. "A significant amount of work is needed to build a commercial business around the university’s patents and technologies,” said Ferchau. “EDI is completely focused on that objective and expects to close first commercial deals in the next quarter." The release of the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid car available to consumers is expected in three to five years.

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