EchoDrive Bolt-On Hybrid-Electric Conversion Can Cut Pickup Fuel Costs By MoreThan 40%
It’s no surprise the day has finally arrived when your shop mechanic can convert your conventional gas-powered heavy-duty pickup into a hybrid-electric model before lunch time.
At least that’s what Dave Crecelius, Vice President of Echo Automotive, told Hard Working Trucks is on the table starting this fall.
EchoDrive is currently being offered as a “ship-thru” upfit that routes 2015-newer Ford E-Series and GM heavy-duty vans from the factory to a Leggett & Platt CVP installation center where the system is installed before being sent on to the customer.
But Crecelius says EchoDrive will also be offered direct for DIY installation (for Echo-certified installers) on 2015 GM 2500/3500 gas-powered 2WD pickups.
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Adding the electric-hybrid system takes about four hours and is said to be an easy upgrade that can be done by any experienced shop mechanic that has gone through Echo Automotive’s online certification program.
The company’s new EchoDrive bolt-on hybrid-electric system, which can reduce annual fuel costs by as much as 50-percent in some cases, consists of a Remy electric motor and a light-weight battery storage system.
The weight of the kit is about 300 pounds and will be in full production at the end of this year, according to Crecelius.
Installation requires bolting the electric motor to the transmission’s tailshaft, removing the spare tire to install the battery pack, and running the plug-and-play wiring harness.
Crecelius says the Remy motor adds 226 lb-ft of torque at launch and 40hp to the existing powertrain, significantly increasing the truck’s launch performance and increasing stop-and-go city mpg by more than 40-percent.
(Crecelius says the system has little or no effect on highway fuel economy.)
During the drive cycle, EchoDrive’s electric motor automatically applies torque to assist the engine using sophisticated algorithms to control the process.
“The workload reduction is similar to what a vehicle experiences when going downhill,” says Crecelius, “but with EchoDrive, the assist is continually adjusted to provide optimal efficiency.”
Echo Automotive has also set up Meineke and other mainstream transmission centers to handle installations for those who want to retrofit their vehicles but don’t have a shop of their own to handle the installation.
EchoDrive is being offered as a $12,500 upgrade. But that initial sticker shock is far less intimidating if you consider Echo Automotive has a lease program that is less than $200/month.
This should make the system of great interest to landscapers and others who do a lot of start/stop driving day-in and day-out.
“We have a 3- and 5-year lease program that costs less than than many company’s monthly fuel bill for a single pickup,” says Amy Dobrikova, Echo Automotive’s VP of Business Development. “At the end of the lease the customer can remove the EchoDrive system and send it back to us, or they can purchase it for the residual value.”
The beauty of this bolt-on hybrid-electic system is it can easily be moved from truck to truck, so at the end of one’s lease period or trade-in, it can be moved to another in the fleet, further increasing ROI.