With 10.2 million fleet vehicles in use in the U.S., innovative start-up company Alte saw a market opportunity to develop a plug-in hybrid conversion that would transform the nation's inefficient vehicles into the fleet of the future. The company, founded less than two short years ago, hopes to convert 500,000 fleet vehicles over to extended-range plug-in hybrids in the next six years. While conversions are quite a regular occurrence, Alte offers something that most don't: a 50,000 mile powertrain warranty.

Here's a brief Alte history. Fifteen months ago, the company had little more than a Powerpoint presentation demonstrating its ideas and worked out of a small place in Plymouth, MI. Now, with 185,000 square feet of space in Auburn Hills, MI, 16 employees (expected to be over 300 by 2012) and former Chrysler President Thomas LaSorda and former Chrysler sales executive Steven Landry on the company's board of directors, the future looks bright. Add in $8.4 million in state tax credits and the possibility of a $101 million loan from the Department of Energy, and the ball is rolling in the right direction.

Alte has developed the plug-in powertrain in-house. Converted vehicles will travel 40 miles on a full charge before the gasoline engine springs to life. In most applications, vehicles will have a 400-mile range and return between 80 and 200 percent better fuel economy than non-converted counterparts. Who's buying? The company recently signed a $240 million deal with Gulfstream Coach for 3,000 powertrain kits for shuttle bus use. And, if you still don't believe that the company has a chance, there's one more thing to add: all three founders worked for Tesla Motors back in those early days in 2007 when few believed that the company would ever make it.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]