BOSTON - XL Hybrids, Inc. will begin conducting customer pilot tests of its hybrid powertrain technology with GM 2500 Series vans, including the Chevy Express and GMC Savana. The company claims its hybrid powertrain can reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20 percent for urban fleets.

XL Hybrids is working with equipment upfit companies and with fleet maintenance firms to certify them to install the hybrid powertrain on new and used vehicles. The company is initially targeting sales to fleets that operate the vans at least 25,000 miles per year in urban and suburban routes.

XL Hybrids will also offer the XLH powertrain as an option through fleet leasing partners in 2012. Participating fleets could see operating expenses reduced with minimal or no up-front capital. Additional benefits for fleets that install the XLH powertrain include:

* Estimated savings of between $1,500 and $2,500 per year from improved fuel economy
* A three- to five-year payback for fleet customers
* Increased low-end torque
* Installation in less than one day

The powertrain is comprised of a 2kWh advanced lithium-ion battery pack, a 40kW (53 horsepower) electric motor and a proprietary hybrid control system that operate seamlessly with the original manufacturer's 4.8L internal combustion engine and automatic transmission.

It provides flexibility for fleets to operate the vehicle in any application, although the maximum fuel savings will be achieved on urban or mixed suburban and urban routes. The system can provide an additional 240 foot-pounds of torque at the driveshaft when the hybrid electric motor assists during acceleration, allowing fleets to have the same or improved performance with increased efficiency.

"Fleet customers are facing an increased number of new alternative vehicle technologies, many of which require changes to routes, cargo loads, range or fueling infrastructure. We designed our hybrid powertrain to provide an attractive payback from fuel savings while minimizing any disruption or change to company operations," said Justin Ashton, co-founder and vice president of business development of XL Hybrids.

XL Hybrids' new facility in Boston will serve as the company's headquarters and engineering center.

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