Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies (HEVT) out of Chicago, Illinois is one of 120 current contenders for the Progressive Automotive X-Prize. The Automotive X-Prize is giving away a $10 million award to the company that creates a 100 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) vehicle that is production ready and that people will want to buy.
The winning vehicle must also meet some other marketing criteria such as price, safety, size and performance. In July 2008, HEVT unveiled a Ford F-150 pickup truck that they converted to a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The converted Ford was originally rated at 16 mpg and with the plug-in conversion those numbers rose to 41 mpg.
The HEVT retrofit unit uses a high capacity battery pack situated behind the seats, an ACU unit and regenerative braking to recharge the batteries. The ACU unit controls the optimal use of the gasoline engine and electric motors to achieve the highest mileage possible. The vehicle is also capable of running the first 15 miles on all battery power alone.
HEVT is a 15 employee startup company, housed at the Illinois Institute of Technology Park with technology licensed from IIT. In order to compete for the X-prize HEVT will be retrofitting a wide variety of vehicles, presumably smaller cars and adding extra batteries to bolt over the 100 MPGe mark.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies will be competing in the Alternative Class and are currently working with CalCars on retrofitting plug-ins for a wide range of larger vehicles as well. HEVT will have a lot of competition just with other PHEV’s namely GM, Toyota, Ford plus others who are now circling the wagon, wondering if they should jump in or not.
With the Automotive X-Prize as a giant dangling carrot it’s no wonder that automobile companies like HEVT have thrown their hat into the ring. Now, just who will be standing at the final bell is another question to be answered in the months to come.