The commonly black Lincoln Town Car is turning green over at XL Hybrids, a Somerville, MA start-up. The company converts the car to hybrid power, adding an electric motor that allows for a 15-30 percent reduction in fuel consumption while providing an additional 20 horsepower. Although conversion costs are not out yet, co-founder Justin Ashton estimates that the investment can be recouped in about 24 months, and even shorter as gas prices increase. Not bad for a six-hour job.
The conversion can be performed at the company's current service center. The lithium-ion phosphate battery will take up 25 percent of the trunk space but, because of the cavernous nature of the Town Car's trunk, plenty of luggage space remains. The only added maintenance cost after the conversion is a $20 rubber belt replacement every 50,000 miles.
Town Cars are not the only fleet vehicles XL Hybrids that has set its sights on. Ashton told AutoblogGreen:
We're engineering the hybrid system for Ford E-Series vans to be released into customer pilot testing later this year (then one for GM van models in 2012). The van product is designed for shuttle, delivery, and service van applications and is really the big opportunity for us, both in terms of market size, and in terms of potential environmental impact from reducing total gallons of fuel used in fleets. As you know, turnover can be painfully slow (measured in decades). That's why we offer both a retrofit hybrid system for existing vehicles as well as an upfit option for new vehicles as fleet buyers spec them out.
Some fleet vehicles are used until the last possible mile is driven out of them, and operators of those machines will be wise to consider a conversion like the one XL offers. Saving money and reducing fuel consumption sounds like a win-win to us.
[Source: Wired | Images: XL Hybrids]