Wrightspeed, Inc. Grant For the Wrightspeed Digital DriveSystem Retrofit Kit
Wrightspeed, Inc. will receive an Energy Commission grant to help it manufacture digital drive systems (DDS) that allow large trucks to run on electricity.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles bring to mind efficient small cars, not large trucks. But larger vehicles offer impressive potential to reduce petroleum use and clean up the air with this new hybrid technology. Many of these vehicles are used for local operations and short runs, making them ideal users of an electric drive.
Wrightspeed plans to manufacture digital drive systems and retrofit kits for commercial trucks in the class 3 to class 6 range-vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 to 26,000 pounds. The company's electric drive kit replaces a truck's entire drive system with a minimal increase in weight. With a digital drive system installed, these medium- to heavy-duty trucks can use plug-in electric power for the first 40 miles of operation. After that, a range-extending micro-turbine generator will kick in to charge the batteries and provide extended driving range.
$1,500,000 from the project participants.
Wrightspeed, Inc., a California-based company known for building the world's fastest street legal electric car, is focused on building cleaner and more efficient drive train systems for medium and heavy-duty trucks. The company will assemble the sophisticated integrated electronics and the software management system at a new proposed manufacturing facility in San Jose. It is headquartered in nearby Woodside, California. Ian Wright, owner of Wrightspeed, is also co-founder of Tesla Motors.
Capstone Turbine Corporation, based in Chatsworth, California, will supply the micro-turbine generator engines that serve as the secondary power source to charge the electric-drive batteries. Capstone’s micro-turbines can be run on a variety of fuels.
Wrightspeed estimates its industry-leading technology will result in 100 percent fuel savings; if a diesel truck gets 10 miles per gallon, the same truck with a digital drive system would get 20 mpg. When compared to a similar diesel truck, a digital drive system vehicle will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 64 percent.
The project team will verify the manufacturing, testing and installation of the new technology. Ten mostly engineering jobs will be created now, while the company's business plan predicts adding 120 more jobs five years into the project. With high market penetration, the technology could eventually create as many as 6,000 jobs, including assembly workers, technical and service staff, and sales and administration people.
Grant Agreement Number: ARV-10-025