Hyliion’s Hybrid Axles Offer Fuel Savings for Heavy Trucks

The trucking industry spends over $$150 billion per year on fuel every year. A hybrid electric system from Hyliion aims to cut down on that number, and the consumption from gas engines. Hyliion’s hybrid axles and self-contained system include regenerative braking, auxiliary power units, and advanced aerodynamics to save energy.

The retrofit technology works like this: Rear axles underneath the trailer are replaced with electric-drive axles. The electric-drive axles are coupled to a battery box and a control box. The control box works alongside the diesel gas engines to maintain an optimal performance band.

“It’s this theory of almost creating a Toyota Prius,” Hyliion founder and CEO Thomas Healy told Tech Briefs in an interview. (Read the Q&A article: Hybrid Tractor Trailers Take the Road.)

The Hyliion system, which can be installed and retrofitted to a fleet of trucks in under an hour, won the 2016 Create the Future Design Contest – a competition founded by Tech Briefs Media Group, which awards innovative products and researchers.

Like the Toyota Priuses that have both gas engines and a battery electric drive system, the Hyliion implementers keep the existing truck you already own. You just add the Hyliion system on and make it a hybrid, said Healy.

“You don’t have to go out and buy a brand-new tractor trailer,” said the “Create the Future” award winner.

The company’s system replaces tractors’ rear axles with either single- or double-drive axles, reducing demand on the internal combustion engine and cutting down on fuel consumption from gas engines. The add-on system will help truck fleets to reduce gas emissions and fuel costs. Regenerative braking captures and reuses power to help the truck move uphill.

If you’re going to have new, hybrid-electric technology, it needs to be something that can pay for itself quickly, Healy told Tech Briefs.

Healy says the Hyliion system is one that will save a fleet more money in fuel each month than they’ll spend on a lease.

“For the fleet, it’s almost like adopting a technology for free,” the CEO said. The Hyliion replacement of the axles reduces trucking’s fuel consumption by 30 percent.

Hyliion recently announced the Hypertruck Electric Range Extender (ERX). The powertrain technology provides an electric Class 8 system that can achieve a net carbon negative emission footprint. The ERX uses renewable natural gas to charge the battery.

Tractor-trailers currently get about 6.5 miles per gallon, and according to the TruckersReport industry forum, a commercial truck can easily consume more than $70,000 of diesel fuel per year. Will hybrid axles make a difference?

Read our Tech Briefs interview with Thomas Healy