New System Enables Commercial Vehicles to Convert to Hybrid Fuel Technology

It’s no secret electric and hybrid cars are popular with consumers. But what if small business owners could turn their current vehicle — even a commercial van or truck — into a hybrid?

Researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey have developed a new kind of plug-in hybrid system for commercial vehicles. “This system is the first of its kind,” according to Anthony Adrignolo, director of FDU’s Automotive Enterprise Studies program. Adringnolo and Sai Sankar, chief research engineer at Fairleigh Dickinson, have developed a converted Plug-in Hybrid Ford E-150 Van. The van’s breakthrough hybrid system was designed, engineered and installed at Fairleigh Dickinson, and was funded in part through a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

According to Sai Sankar:
• Our objective was never to change the architecture of new commercial vehicles. The objective was always to convert existing commercial vehicles and improve their fuel economy substantially.

• Thus, the system we installed in our Ford E150 is an easy to install conversion system for existing commercial vehicles. It provides launch assist and regen braking capabilities to substantially improve fuel economy. And it does so using a very easy to install system that changes very little about the vehicle. Its almost invisible. Now, we’re not pitching this as a ready-to-sell system but rather as an entirely unique way of improving the fuel economy of the roughly 250 million cars currently on US roads.

• And last but not least, the hybrid system is an on-demand system. The driver selects when to activate the hybrid system and how much assist he/she needs.

• Additionally,


here are few things that might be of interest:

1) The entire team comprised of two people- my supervisor and myself

2) The entire cost of the Research and Development of this vehicle was a paltry $ 75,000 ( and this includes the cost of the used vehicle that was converted)

3) Our aim from the very beginning was to keep our costs low and source our parts locally. The whole conversion system is US made

The FDU researchers note the van is unique because it is one of the few plug-in hybrids among commercial vehicles. Its innovative, on-demand hybrid drive system can be used to convert any commercial vehicle on the road. “What makes this system unique is that it is designed for existing gasoline-powered vehicles,” Sankar says. “It can be installed in any commercial vehicle on the road.”

It is an on-demand system, according to the researchers, and the driver has complete control over whether the hybrid system is on or off, allowing for maximum fuel efficiency. This new system addresses a common problem: there are very few plug-in systems currently available for commercial vehicles. Using a standard electrical outlet, this system can recharge in only five hours.

The FDU researchers demonstrate the system in the van, which can be seen in action in this video: