Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hydraulic Hybrid Prototyping

After testing our first hydraulic hybrid prototype on the LH4 last summer we moved on to creating a prototype on a 2004 Chevy 2500HD in the fall.
We had a truck on loan from the Denver International Airport fleet for the pilot project. It was complete in November and we tested it for a few weeks and that process spurred the major modifications to our Power Transfer Module (see the last post). Unfortunately the transmission on the 2004 truck was not a good candidate for the prototype so we returned the truck to DIA without the hydraulic hybrid system on it with the understanding that we will retrofit a newer truck for them after our next prototype is complete.

Currently we are applying the new tank system and updated PTM to a Chevy Silverado 2500HD. (Detail on right.) The system was applied and has since been removed for modifications and in order to get some baseline performance numbers on the truck. The truck will be complete in mid-February and will debut at the State of Colorado’s Governor’s Energy Office Environmental and Transportation Fair on February 24th. From there we will take it to the international Work Truck Show and Green Truck Summit in St. Louis in early March. We are excited to show it off and will keep you posted regarding these opportunities.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lightning Hybrids and HHS to Apply for Patents

During the prototype process with the 2002 Chevy truck from Denver International Airport, our engineering team made some major modifications to our hydraulic hybrid system design. These revisions are significant and we are working to patent the following innovations:

1. Power Transfer Module. Our PTM replaces the vehicle’s torque converter. Since it replaces an existing part, no modifications are required for the drivetrain (such as driveshaft changes, transmission change-outs, etc.) which significantly reduces the cost and increases vehicle efficiency since the torque converter is a major source of inefficiency in stop-and-go driving.

2. Dual Tank System. HHS has designed a two-in-one system with proprietary valves that reduces connections and hoses by surrounding a carbon fiber high pressure accumulator with an aluminum low pressure reservoir. The design reduces connections and hoses, a significant benefit when dealing with 5,000 PSI. Standard steel accumulators weigh over 500 pounds, the carbon fiber tank weighs in under 150 pounds, another way to increase system efficiency. No one else has a certified carbon fiber accumulator and Eaton has signed an NDA to explore using ours in their system.

3. Controls System. The HHS controls system is proprietary and is unique because we are tying into the On-Board Diagnostics of the vehicle to which the system is applied which allows us to achieve ten percent better fuel mileage improvements when used in conjunction with our PTM.

4. Hydraulic System. The hydraulic system is uniquely configured to utilize a standard and proven variable displacement pump in conjunction with a specially-designed valve manifold and uniquely configured high and low pressure tank system.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We've Moved!

Work has started on the renovation of the Mercury Plaza building in downtown Loveland that will be the future headquarters of Lightning Hybrids and Hydraulic Hybrid Systems. Structural designs are being completed and a new floor is going into the old print shop building.

While we await our new home, we have moved from the east side of Railroad Avenue to the west side. The new space has great office space for our design and administrative team and a nice garage for our vehicle team. We aren't able to accomodate tours at this time, but hope to host an open house in the springtime.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lightning Hybrids and the X PRIZE

Back in March we announced that we were accepted as a contestant in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. Since then a lot has happened. Most notably, we have decided to focus all of our efforts and funding on the Hydraulic Hybrids Systems retrofit for fleet vehicles. Which means we pulled out of the X PRIZE competition in mid-August. We still plan to exhibit and still plan to have a 100 MPG sports vehicle on the road in 2012, but we no longer have the distraction and funding drain of the X PRIZE's stringent requirements.

It started at the Denver Auto Show with a bunch of people asking us when we would be creating a retrofit for vehicles. If you have followed this blog you know that we researched the idea of retrofitting vehicles and found that there is a need in the light- and medium-duty fleet truck market for a hydraulic hybrid application like ours that provides games of over 40% in fuel efficiency and decreases carbon emissions by up to 50%. There are over 6 million vehicles in this category in fleets in the U.S. alone!

At the same time we were finding that funding for the LH4 and LH3 was very tight. While our technology is sound, we decided to spend our resources on the retrofit prototypes rather than the cars because the return on investment is under a year for the retrofits compared to a decade or more for the vehicles, even if we were to win the X PRIZE race.

The cars are still a passion, but we know that we have to build a successful retrofit business first before the cars can become a reality.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lightning Hybrids to Raise $1.5 Million in Capital Through One-Year 10% Secured Notes

Lightning Hybrids to Raise $1.5 Million in Capital Through One-Year 10% Secured Notes

We have had many requests about how to invest in Lightning Hybrids - well, now we have an investment opportunity for you. We are raising capital to fund the final leg of the Hydraulic Hybrid Systems retrofit pilot project (which will, in turn, fund the future prototyping of the LH3 and LH4.)

This effort will be our first debt offering (We currently have no debt) and will be in the form of a one year secured convertible note. The note will pay ten percent interest and you will have the option to convert the note to equity at a discount when due at the end of one year (standard legal fine print, of course.) The minimum investment is $50,000. If you and/or someone you know are interested in knowing more please contact Bonnie.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

HHS Retrofit Pilot Project

In late July HHS received a truck from Denver International Airport for our Retrofit Pilot Project. It is a Chevy 2500 that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) and is used for runway checks and plowing. Our plan is to put this truck back on the DIA runway in early October for demonstration and testing.

Work began immediately on assessing the controls systems, transmission and torque converter. Shortly thereafter we created a test stand on which to mount all of the components of the system so we could easily test and evaluate each component of the system.

The system changes daily and is getting closer and closer to being ready to be put back on the truck. Stay tuned here for more information about this Retrofit Pilot Project.

Welcome to Hydraulic Hybrid Systems' Blog

Thank you for tuning in to HHS's new blog. We hope to use this forum to show the HHS technology as it is beling developed as well as answer questions that you may have.

Please direct any questions in the comments to via email to Bonnie.

Thanks again for reading!

PRESS RELEASE: Hydraulic Hybrid Systems and Equipment Maintenance Innovators Announce Partnership

Hydraulic Hybrid Systems and Equipment Maintenance Innovators Announce Partnership

Two Colorado companies will manufacture and distribute hydraulic hybrid systems for fleet vehicles

Loveland, Colorado (September 3, 2009) — Hydraulic Hybrid Systems, LLC (HHS), a subsidiary of Lightning Hybrids Inc., today announced a partnership with Equipment Maintenance Innovators (EMI-Global) to distribute its hydraulic hybrid retrofit systems.

This partnership brings together two Colorado companies to manufacture and distribute fuel-efficient hydraulic hybrid technology for light and medium duty fleet vehicles. The hydraulic hybrid systems are designed to save fleets millions of dollars a year in fuel costs by providing fuel mileage increases of over forty percent and greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to a vehicle’s fuel mileage prior to the retrofit.

“Hydraulic hybrids have been around for a while but, there has been no reason until now to explore these kinds of technologies,” stated Richard LeFrancois, founder and president of EMI-Global. “Now is the time to move forward with hydraulics because of the push to cut emissions and dependence on foreign oil. Batteries just cannot address issues for fleets at the scale that we need.”

Dan Johnson, CEO of HHS, said “This partnership with EMI-Global closes a gap we had in terms of distribution and we’re excited about the potential this partnership brings. EMI is known for their expertise in the fleet market and already we are seeing doors open to the partners that EMI brings to the table.”

One of those partners, Denver International Airport recently provided the first truck to be retrofitted with the hydraulic hybrid system, a Chevrolet HD 2500 truck fueled by compressed natural gas. The hybrid system is currently being installed and tested at HHS’s shop in downtown Loveland, Colorado and the truck prototype will be put back into runway service in early October 2009.

In late 2008 Loveland-based Lightning Hybrids began engineering a biodiesel hydraulic hybrid vehicle that combined a small biodiesel engine with a 150 horsepower hydraulic pump on a lightweight sports sedan. The first prototype was displayed at the Denver Auto Show in April 2009. At that show questions arose from a number of fleet managers about the prospect of applying the hydraulic hybrid as a retrofit to existing fleet vehicles.

“We explored the opportunity and found a need for fuel and emissions savings in the light-duty fleet market,” said Johnson. “A hydraulic hybrid retrofit system is an excellent answer in situations where the light duty fleet vehicle does a lot of start and stop driving, such as city and state fleet vehicles, vocational and contractor trucks and vans, mining and oil field vehicles, and school buses.”

Hydraulic hybrid systems are already available from several manufacturers for new heavy-duty trucks (delivery trucks and refuse trucks) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed and tested hydraulic hybrid vehicles in the past.

In late April 2009 the engineering team started the design and implementation of a hydraulic hybrid system that could be applied to these fleet vehicles. Lightning Hybrids established Hydraulic Hybrid Systems, LLC in July 2009 to manage the manufacturing and distribution of the system.

HHS also currently has a 2008 Chevy Silverado HD 2500 in the shop that will serve as a demonstration vehicle. The truck is stripped down almost to a bare chassis and has a plexiglass floorboard to show the system as it works. Other vehicle platforms will be prototyped in the near future to meet the needs of current fleets. The system will be manufactured in Loveland starting in 2010, creating dozens of new jobs in this small Northern Colorado town. After manufacture, the systems will be installed and maintained by mechanics trained by HHS.

So far test data on the system shows that adding the system to a vehicle:
- Does not affect the existing safety rating of the vehicle, in fact it improves braking safety due to the back-up braking system and increased acceleration performance
- Improves the reliability of the vehicle because it adds another power source
- Increases fuel efficiency up to 40% for general non-highway uses
- Does not affect the emissions systems of the vehicle
- Emissions reduction of 40% of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas

HHS’s parallel hydraulic hybrid system is similar to many of the electric hybrid vehicles on the market today wherein a conventional internal combustion engine can drive the vehicle by itself or be assisted by another power system which can be mechanically coupled or decoupled from the main conventional driveline. In the parallel hydraulic system a hydraulic motor/pump acts in place of the electric motor in an electric hybrid, and a hydraulic accumulator tank pressurized to 5,000 psi acts in place of the batteries. Compared to an electric hybrid system, hydraulic hybrid systems are much safer and less expensive to maintain.


About Hydraulic Hybrid Systems, LLC
Serious Fuel Savings > Heavy Duty Acceleration > Efficient Brake Regeneration > Safe Carbon Reduction

A subsidiary of Lightning Hybrids, Hydraulic Hybrid Systems (HHS) is a truck equipment manufacturing company headquartered in Loveland, Colorado. The company has designed a hydraulic hybrid system that can be applied to fleet vehicles and will achieve over 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption. The first platform, for Chevrolet 2500/3500 light duty trucks of any fuel source, is available now and other vehicles will be added and available through distributors later in 2009. The average price of the system for light duty trucks is $12,900.

For more information about HHS, please visit http://www.hydraulichybridsystems.com/

About Equipment Maintenance Innovators
…Technology Integration for the World of Equipment.

Founded in 2000, Equipment Maintenance Innovators (EMI-Global) is a technology integration company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado serving the international construction, trucking, oil field, mining, waste, utility and telecommunication markets. The company flagship product, MOBILE-SCADA® is comprised of a suite of industry leading technology applications designed for improving machine operating efficiencies. MOBILE-SCADA® applications consist of Machine Control Technologies, Hybrid Propulsion Technologies, Fuel Management Technology, Power Management Technology, Load Management Technology and Asset Management Technology. EMI-Global founder and president, Richard LeFrancois, has thirty years experience in the truck and construction equipment industry; he has been published frequently in Fleet Maintenance magazine’s “Emerging Technology” column and has been frequently cited as a “industry expert” in ENR magazine, a publication of McGraw-Hill. LeFrancois regards the Lightning Hybrids/Hydraulic Hybrid System technology as an excellent fit for the EMI-GLOBAL business model, its customers and a technology that will be adopted industry wide in the proper application.

For more information about EMI-Global, please visit https://exch1.123together.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=56a4b366eee244c598dcec8a50a90b42&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.emi-global.com

About Lightning Hybrids Inc.
Go fast, go far, go green. No compromise.

Founded in 2008, Lightning Hybrids Inc. is an automotive research and manufacturing company headquartered in Loveland, Colorado. The company has designed a line of 100 MPG biodiesel-hydraulic hybrid vehicles. The cars, with sports sedan performance (0-60 in 5.9 seconds) and visual appeal, are expected to sell for $39,000-$59,000. Prototype manufacturing began in January 2009. Two Lightning Hybrids prototypes will exhibit in the 2010 Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize race, for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPGe. Additionally the company has created a hydraulic hybrid system that can be applied to fleet vehicles to achieve over 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption. This technology is available to fleet vehicles through Lightning Hybrids’ subsidiary, Hydraulic Hybrid Systems, LLC (HHS).

For more information about Lightning Hybrids, please visit http://www.lightninghybrids.com/


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Current Engineering Projects

Here is a list of engineering projects our team is currently working on:

- Working on the coordination of the hydraulic hybrid system including assembly and manufacturing proponents - both electrical and mechanical.

- Designing the hydraulic circuit, making sure all the components work well together.

- Designing the acceleration and brake pedals, as well as the power transfer sprocket assembly.

Power transfer sprocket assembly

- Putting the finishing touches to the hydraulic control unit (HCU). The HCU consists of the digital controller which executes the control algorithms as well as the analog sensor and the power controller interfaces to the hydraulic pump/motor, the brake and acceleration pedals and the Engine Control Unit.

- Working on an animation demonstrating the hydraulic hybrid retrofit system. The use of robust modeling and animation software aids in the ability to take concepts and bring them to light in a aesthetically pleasing and timely manner. It also provides a good medium in which people who may not have a hydraulics or engineering background can grasp the concepts with minimal explanation.

Updates on these projects will be posted soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Northern Colorado Entrepreneurs Network Presentation

Yesterday the Northern Colorado Entrepreneurs Network (NCEN) brought together some of the advanced vehicle technology companies in the northern Colorado region to give short presentations about our business plans and current needs. Lightning Hybrids/Hydraulic Hybrid Systems (Loveland), EVolve Electrics (Longmont), Air Powered Car (Littleton), and Czero (Fort Collins) each made presentations.

Bonnie Trowbridge, our VP of Marketing and PR, gave the following presentation to over 50 regional entrepreneurs. We welcome your feedback.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hydraulic Hybrid Systems, LLC

As we have mentioned before, Lightning Hybrids has started a subsidiary called Hydraulic Hybrid Systems, LLC (HHS). This new company will manage the hydraulic retrofit/upfit side of the business.

This week our posts will focus on HHS - everything from our business plan to what our engineers are working on to make the hydraulic hybrid system a reality. We will start with the most current information about this project.


Hydraulic Hybrid Systems, LLC, a division of Lightning Hybrids Inc., has created a hydraulic hybrid system for the fleet truck market. The HHS solution involves inserting a high-efficiency, light-weight hydraulic propulsion system within the driveline of a vehicle. This system is designed and engineered to be installed in fourteen hours, including all controls and wiring harness, by a certified installer. The system has been successfully tested by the EPA and at various state sponsored university technology incubators including a program at Colorado State University. Successful installations have been on vehicles from the Ford Excursion to Class 8 vocational trucks.

In this very simple and effective configuration a hydraulic pump is coupled to the driveline via a belt and clutch. This parallel hybrid system can deliver over 40 percent improvement in fuel economy, depending on the amount of braking seen during a normal drive cycle. The pump and accumulators store braking energy, and upon acceleration, the pump becomes a motor that uses the stored energy in the accumulators(s) to provide torque to power the wheels. The large fuel efficiency gains are achieved by regenerating the braking energy that is normally lost to heat, and using this energy instead of (and in addition to, if needed) the internal combustion engine for acceleration.

The hydraulic hybrid system includes a heavy-duty Eaton hydraulic pump and motor, an ASTM certified high pressure accumulator tank, a low pressure reservoir, a valve block, HHS control system, brackets and associated certified hoses. System operation is seamless to the operator.

In addition to the demonstrated fuel savings opportunity there are other advantages to this type of hybrid system (especially for the fleet manager). They are: the system requires no bed or cab interior space since all components fit within the chassis frame; there is little or no additional workforce training needed in maintaining the system since hydraulic component and driveline maintenance is already being done in the shops of the target market; it is proven safe, and all components are readily available within the existing truck parts distribution network.

The critical and exciting opportunity for this technology is the return on investment garnered from fuel savings. The table below shows several examples and the assumptions made. Note that if gas prices are higher than $3 per gallon (as it already is in some parts of the US and all of Europe), the ROI improves further at a fast rate. This table does not include any federal credits for advanced vehicle technology, hybridization, or emissions improvement (which currently provide $1,500 to $7,500 incentives), nor does it account for savings with brake replacements or the extension of the service cycle for vehicles.

(Click on table to enlarge.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Are you on Facebook? We are and would love to have you as a fan! Search for us - the official site is the one with the image of the lightning bolt.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Videos

Just posted a few short clips of the car on the road shot by Engineering TV earlier this month. Click here to go to our youtube page.

Again - thanks Engineering TV!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Q&A: Doubling Prius' Gas Mileage

We frequently get questions about different aspects of LHI. I will be posting some of them here in the hopes that readers will find the info interesting or helpful.

Q. I don’t know what to say when somebody makes impossible claims about their new product. This design seems similar to a Prius, except that the hydraulic system will store much less energy than the battery in an electric hybrid. How could this possibly double the mileage of the Prius? The hydraulic hybrid system is well-known. It is fine for delivery trucks, but offers few benefits for a general-purpose car.

A. The hydraulic system has the benefit of storing energy at a much faster rate than the electric hybrid. It is true that the electric hybrid system can store a larger amount of energy, but that energy is also not free because of the fact that the electric system cannot recover the full amount of energy in even a normal driving cycle stop. The Prius often runs the gas engine in order to maintain energy levels in the batteries. In terms of energy density the two systems may be comparable but in terms of storage rate and efficiency the hydraulic system has an advantage. This coupled with the fact that a turbo diesel engine is about twice as efficient as the gasoline engine in the prius and the body design of LH4 improves the already excellent drag characteristics of the Prius with a lighter chasis and body substantiates our claim of doubling the efficiency of the Prius.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fleet Retrofit Pilot Project

Dan with the truck from DIA

Yesterday we received the first truck for our fleet retrofit project. It is a Chevy 2500 four-wheel drive powered by compressed natural gas. It is from the Denver International Airport ground fleet.

As soon it arrived Dan and the team were under the hood and checking out the drivetrain to see where there would be room for the hydraulics and tanks. There is ample room under the truck.

We are excited to work with the natural gas vehicle and will get a gasoline powered truck in soon as well so we can get some good baselines and apply the hydraulics. The truck will be in the shop for about 45 days before it is put on the road and in the CSU engines lab for testing for a few weeks. It should be back on the runway at DIA by October 1.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Q&A: Leaks in the Hydraulic System

We frequently get questions about different aspects of LHI. I will be posting some of them here in the hopes that readers will find the info interesting or helpful.

Q: Fantastic concept. What about oil leaks from the hydraulic systems and the resulting fire hazards? I have seen industrial hydraulic systems that, over time, tend to get leaky.

A: Certain types of seals work better than others. If you are clever enough in how you design your manifold you can eliminate most of the hoses or piping in the plumbing. By sticking to mainly o-ring and mechanical seals in the few seals that you have you can largely eliminate leaks from the system.

In fact, you may remember that we had a leak in our hydraulic system minutes before our May 27 Open House. While it was messy, it was no more messy, or dangerous, than a standard oil leak.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Q&A: Pneumatic Hybrid

We frequently get questions about different aspects of LHI. I will be posting some of them here in the hopes that readers will find the info interesting or helpful.

Q: The actual energy storage is in the gas in the bladder of the hydraulic accumulator. Why not have a pneumatic hybrid? Way back in 1930, a diesel-pneumatic was more efficient than a diesel-electric, and air is cheap and easy to store.

A: The Hydraulic Hybrid in this configuration is essentially a pneumatic hybrid as mentioned. The energy is in fact stored by compressing air. The air that is compressed is nitrogen gas which is held in the accumulator bladder. The advantage of the hydraulic system is that you are pumping an incompressible fluid which allows you to achieve higher flow rates in a smaller package. A one hundred horsepower compressor that would allow you to compress and store enough energy to accelerate the vehicle from a stop would be half the size of the vehicle itself. Imagine an industrial air compressor. As I understand most pneumatic hybrid vehicles use a smaller compressor that runs continuously at a low power setting. The one hundred horsepower hydraulic pump occupies much less than a cubic foot of space and only weighs 45 pounds.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Q&A: Hydraulic Hybrid Systems

We frequently get questions about different aspects of LHI. I will be posting some of them here in the hopes that readers will find the info interesting or helpful.

Q: I have a few vehicles that I want to continue driving so I'm interested retrofit kits. Is your company considering selling retrofit kits for existing vehicles?

A. Yes, we are focusing our work right now on retrofits as there is a large market for them. Unfortunately each vehicle platform requires a slightly different retrofit in terms of controls so we are starting with a few trucks (Chevy Silverado type) and possible a larger passenger car (Dodge Charger) that are used in many fleets. We hope to have a broad spectrum of retrofits within a year.

Q. If retrofit kits are made available do the vehicles have to be rear wheel drive and will the gas economy improve?

A: The EPA's tests on hydraulic hybrid technology show a 40 to 60% improvement in fuel economy which comes from using the hydraulics for acceleration and stopping, where the internal combustion engine loses the most efficiency. The cars do not have to be rear-wheel drive as we can apply the retrofit to any vehicle differential(s). There is more info on our hydraulic hybrid system here. (Check the hydraulic hybrid links for a written description of the retrofit, a diagram, and information about fuel savings and return on investment.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Q&A: Vehicle Pricing and Warranties

We frequently get questions about different aspects of LHI. I will be posting some of them here in the hopes that readers will find the info interesting or helpful.

Q: If I understand correctly the LH3 will be made available in 2010 between $39,000 to $59,000. Is this range due to the uncertainty of the final production cost or due to accessories? Also, will the company provide warranties and will the warranties be based on time or mileage?

A: The prices of the LH3 and LH4 will vary both due to uncertainity in final production cost and choice of accessories. We are hoping that production costs will come down as quantities go up, and we plan to have a lot of optional accessories depending on your needs in a vehicle. The company will provide warranties that are similar to those of vehicles currently on the market. Both the list of potential accessories and information on warranties are listed below and can be found on this webpage: http://www.blogger.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Flightninghybrids%2Ecom%2Fsolutions-vehicle-specifications%2Ehtml&urlhash=d-D5&_t=tracking_disc

Both the LH4 (four-wheels) and the LH3 (three wheels) have essentially same specifications, except where noted below.

Price: $39,000 (LH3) to $59,000
Production: 2011 (LH3) and 2012 (LH4)
Form: Four-seat compact sports sedan
Engine: 1.4 Liter 85 HP TDI diesel/biodiesel
Hydraulics: 105 HP high efficiency hydraulic pump/motor
Seven Gallon 5000 PSI carbon fiber accumulator
Supports two full 0-60 accelerations, or 7 miles steady state at 40 MPH
Estimated Charge time at idle is 1 minute
High brake regeneration efficiencies (70%)
Proven safety and scalability (fighter jets, commercial airlines, industrial equipment, etc.)
Drive Train: 190 HP (85 HP diesel engine + 105 HP hydraulic pump/motor)
Hybrid System: Parallel hybrid system
Computer controlled algorithm dynamically decides best fuel mileage scenario
Driver switchable between economy and performance mode
Efficiency: 100 MPG (clean diesel/biodiesel)
Dry Weight: 1,800 pounds curb vehicle weight
Braking: Regenerative Hydraulic braking plus ABS all-wheel discs
Materials: Carbon Fiber body, Chrome Moly and Carbon Fiber suspension, Aluminum engine
Acceleration: 0-60 in 5.9 seconds
Coefficient of Drag: 0.24
No outside mirrors (cameras and interior displays will replace the outside mirrors)
Smooth under belly pan
No front grill (Diesels run cool, allowing the radiator to be placed at the rear of the car)
Standard equipment includes:
Automatic transmission
Custom Bucket seats
Electric Heat and Air conditioning
Driver and passenger air bags
Electronic Stability Control
Power Windows/Power Door locks
5 exterior and 2 interior color options (Black, Red, Silver, White, Blue); Tan and Grey
Optional equipment:
Trunk storage rack
18" Aluminum Wheels
Heated Seats
Home charging system (electric)
Sports Hydraulic Package (0-60 in 4 seconds):
Upgraded tires and Aluminum 19 inch wheels
Upgraded Hydraulic Pump/Motor (150 HP) and accumulator
Upgraded leather seats with custom piping and logo/name embroidery
Additional Driver controls of econ/performance mode

Product Warranty
The major drivetrain system components that LHI will use will be covered by a three-year or 36,000 mile OEM warranty. This includes the engine and drivetrain, the hydraulic system as well as the emissions system. Further limited warranty coverage will be provided by LHI to achieve a total coverage of three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first for most systems and ten years or 120,000 miles for the emissions systems. This coverage of three years or 36,000 miles includes hydraulic system components that are not replaceable items (i.e. drive belts). In the event of manufacturing defects for any subsystem component, the labor components of the warranty package will be backed by Lightning Hybrids while the component manufacturer will cover the parts replacement.

The components that are covered in the hydraulic system are designed for use in industrial applications such as earth moving equipment. The hydraulic system components are designed for continuous load applications, such as 100,000 cycles during the component lifetime. The hydraulic system OEM will provide a warranty for all hydraulic subsystems for a period of two years with unlimited mileage. The hydraulic system will be further covered for another year and up to 60,000 miles by an authorized dealer and/or LHI. This warranty will cover the hydraulic system for defects in parts and/or workmanship.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Engineering TV Series Complete

Full Lightning Hybrids series on Engineering TV up now: click here.

(Be sure to watch the entire episode. It starts with four minutes then a short commercial break and then another three minutes.)

Thanks to Engineering TV (also Loveland-based, by the way) for the great coverage! Curtis Ellzey and Terry Knight did a great job and we are excited to have the professional documentation of our technology.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Job Creation Incentive from the City of Loveland

Last night the Loveland City Council unanimously approved a job creation incentive plan for $100,000 for 50 new jobs in the next two years. We are excited to continue toward our goals with the endorsement of the City of Loveland.

The package states that the jobs created must be 50 R&D jobs paid $65,000 or more a year on average and sustained for 12 months. If we do not create and/or sustain the jobs we will repay $2,000 back to the City per job.

We are up to the task!

You can read the articles on our News page (look for July 8 postings).

Speaking of Loveland, we drove the car around downtown yesterday. Some pictures:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Open House

Last week was a busy one focused around our large public open house. Along with Friday's open house we also hosted a a smaller event for fleet managers on Wednesday. It was a stressful time for our team, with the pressure to show a working hydraulic hybrid system and the LH4 with a functioning door looming over us.

Wednesday went well with over 25 area fleet managers and car dealers coming in to take a look at the hydraulic hybrid system and to talk about the retrofit that we will have available for fleets in the Fall. (We will post more about that later this week.)

Friday dawned clear and sunny and all was looking good with the car. The door was opening, the hydraulics were functioning, the car was running. Around 2 p.m. a huge thunderstorm hit the area with strong winds and torrential rain. And yes, some spectacular lightning.

At the same time, the LH4 clamshell door started malfunctioning. Then we blew a hose in the hydraulic system which drained it, making it inoperable.* You can imagine, the tension in the garage was very high.

As 4:30 drew nearer, the sky cleared, and we came to grips with the fact that the car was going to stay in the garage for the open house. (Sorry Mayor Pielin - we'll take you for a ride soon!)

We braced ourselves for the crowd at the door at 4:30 and were pleasantly surprised with the support and understanding of our guests. Over the course of the evening we showed about 350 of our fellow Lovelanders, and others from as far away as Minnesota, our shop and the temporarily docked LH4.

Tim Reeser, Lightning Hybrids Co-Founder (center, gray shirt), talks to the open house crowd. The LH4 is on the left with the clamshell door open. (Photo courtesy Jeff Barr.)

Thank you to everyone who came out! Your enthusiastic show of support and your thoughtful comments and suggestions were just what we needed at the end of long week.

For links to recent articles click here.

*If you're wondering what happens when you blow a hose in the hydraulic system, the answer is: nothing dramatic, just a big puddle of hydraulic fluid... Unfortunately our technician, Chris, happened to be under the car at that moment. His hair really glistened after that.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

LH4 Maiden Voyage Video

A very proud moment.

(Click here if video doesn't load.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Maiden Voyage Photos

Rick Wilking from Reuters was out this morning for a first look at the LH4's "maiden voyage".

Check out his full photo essay here.

Here's a taste:
photos copyright Reuters/Rick Wilking

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Tadpole

Here is a rough draft of the newest version of our three-wheeler - nicknamed the Tadpole. We are experimenting with the two front one rear wheel configuration to see if we can imporve efficiencies.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Safety Dance

LHI is working on multiple platforms and drivetrains, and is in need of additional talent to help us navigate the regulatory puzzles. If you or someone you know has experience with EPA and/or NHTSA and are looking to contribute even a few hours a week, please contact Bonnie at lightninghybrids dot com.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Q & A

Editors Note: Eric's question is in response to our post about the $70 million Department of Energy grant we applied for to work with CSU on developing a new vehicle around their new electric battery platform. This is a completely separate project from our hydraulic hybrid platform.

From Eric: Wow, you are planning on a rate of 4 vehicles delivered a day in only a few years... That is a pretty ambitious goal, what do you have in mind to get there?

Lightning Hybrids: A lot of automation and personnel investment, frankly. Remember, the numbers for the electric vehicle platform are based on a successful $50 million grant from the Department of Energy and much of that funding is for new job creation and infrastructure investment, namely the 1,000 associated jobs related to the investment in manufacturing automation equipment, and the 300 assemblers we will hire to put the cars together and run the automation equipment in year three and four. After the first 18 months of development of the battery and the cars and a year for testing it is a straight shot to mass production.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Fred working on the embedded computer board

Lightning Hybrids is pleased to announce that we have hired an electrical engineer who goes by FRED (Fantastically Ridiculous Electrical Designer). A huge asset on the controls side, Fred is has been working on the measurement and dynamic modeling of the hydraulic system, as well as the design and implementation of the embedded computer control systems for the vehicle. The embedded system is responsible for the coordination and control of all dynamic operations involving the interaction of the hydraulic system (in pump and motor mode) with the diesel engine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Keep Our Router Busy

Now that we are focused on the drivetrain and controls, our 5-axis router isn't getting the work-outs it needs. Do you or someone you know need 3D parts created? See below for email contact info.

As you may remember, Lightning Hybrids has a DMS CNC 5-axis router. This machine is capable of cutting foam or MDF. It is equipped with two 5x5 foot tables allowing us to place and cut parts that are about 4.5 feet by 9 feet.
Our machine has 4 feet of vertical Z movement allowing us to effectively cut a 3.5 foot tall part in one single operation (fixture). With this machine, we can prototype complicated geometries that a traditional 3-axis machine is incapable of. Our costs also run lower, since we can utilize flat cutters to create complex curves.
As you know, we used this router to produce our aerodynamic 3D vehicle shapes. Our entire car body was created - from foam blocks to a finished product - in less than three weeks.
We use MasterCAM X3 for our 5-axis programming, and can convert 3D drawings to toolpaths using MasterCAM in less than two days.
If you need something produced, we'd be happy to work with you to create the part you have been designing. For more information please email Chris at lightninghybrids dot com with a description or part file for high or low production numbers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Body Work

After the April auto show, we came back and decided that there were a few changes we wanted to make to the body. You know how these things go - there are always improvements to be made...

Here are some of the things that have changed on the LH4 body:

- We curved the nose under more (as Matt demonstrates in the picture below)
- We added six inches to the rear portion behind the wheels, meaning more trunk space

- We moved the roof and rear section of the car back six inches, giving the back passengers more head room (which all of us tall people really appreciate). By doing that we elongated the windshield, so it flows into the car body better.

All the changes have made the whole car much more aerodynamic. It looks like a different car! Let us know what you think and what you would change.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Electric

We have recuperated from the Denver Auto Show and have been busy in the shop getting the drivetrain running and designing the controls for the vehicle. In addition, we have been in negotiations regarding funding and are in the process of applying for a few Recovery Act grants.

One of the newest developments is a potential partnership with Colorado State University to develop our car around technology for advanced plug-in hybrid electric and straight electric vehicles at a base price of under $40,000.

CSU has developed a brand new 3D Cu2Sb Nano Technology battery that promises inexpensive and highly scalable manufacturing. (See photo on the right of actual nanotech battery in early development.) This patent-pending technology is exciting because the new materials and nano-tube approach resolve the issues that surround current batteries such as high costs, weight and size, and battery life of less than three years. The CSU battery will be a fraction of the price, size and weight of existing batteries, will fully charge in mere minutes with at least double the life span.

Lightning Hybrids has submitted a proposal under the Department of Energy’s Transportation Electrification Grant requesting a grant award of over $50 million for research and development of this technology and development and testing of the vehicle.

If we receive the funding our plan is to manufacture these cars in Loveland at a rate of 120 per year in 2011, 1,000 per year in 2012, and 10,000 per year by 2014. Our staff will grow from 12 to over 300 green-tech employees in that time. As with our hydraulic hybrids (which we will be producing concurrently to the electric), much of the vehicle components will be outsourced to other local companies, therefore stimulating our economy with even more local jobs.

All of our vehicles will meet standard consumer expectations for options, features, ergonomics, and driveability to achieve mass market penetration. Two electric models will be developed:

- A biodiesel-plug in electric hybrid vehicle (PHEV) with a 40 -mile all-electric range. This vehicle will be a combination parallel-series hybrid vehicle (proprietary clutch activation system) with a 1.4 liter biodiesel engine.

- An all electric vehicle (EV) with a 100-mile range and a charge time of 15 minutes.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please contact your State and local representatives to tell them about Lightning Hybrids and ask them to support our proposal to create a more sustainable future for our community through invention, job creation and reduction of dependence on foreign fuel.

(For more information and a full write up on the proposal please contact Bonnie at bonnie at lightninghybrids dot com.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Guest Blogger: Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson is the father of Dan Johnson, Lightning Hybrids' CEO. He is the inspiration behind the car.

While visiting with my sons Sam and Dan in spring of 2008, I challenged them to design a car capable of 100 mpg that weighed about 1200 pounds. They said they could do this, but they did not have the time or money. A couple of months later, at a Colorado State University engineering display, they were looking at a test car and discussing a hydraulic system.

Later in the year, Dan sold SARobotics, the company he had started in 1992, and Sam was completing the main design on his Stealth Flying Eye. They submitted a plan to me to start an auto company to build diesel-hydraulic cars. When I learned they planned to start Lightning Hybrids and mass produce 3-wheel and 4-wheel vehicles, I decided to move to Loveland from where I was living in Arizona. Within a week Dan and his wife found an apartment for me, and I moved four blocks from the Lightning Hybrids 13,000 square foot warehouse.

For normal people the April 1 date for the car show (merely six months after the company opened its doors) would have been impossible to meet. I may have been to blame because I had taught my children that "THE IMPROBABLE WE DO IMMEDIATELY, THE IMPOSSIBLE TAKES LONGER!”

Dan said they would meet the date and set to work to do so. He hired people who learned to work as small children; to most of them work on a new project is fun. In Jan 2009 the design of cars was finalized. A large 5-axis router was purchased to cut body parts for the carbon fiber molds. Other machines were purchased and Dan and his crew set up the manufacturing facility. The team was made up of a senior design engineer, five engineers, painters, welders -- all 32-years-old and younger -- and four part-time college students, 15 people in all. Body parts were laid-up in a small shop in Boulder, Colorado. Tim Reeser was taking care of logistics and my son Sam and I assisted part time.

We were small crew with one goal -- CAR SHOW ON APRIL 1.

Having worked in heavy industry since 1945 I learned there was one phrase you can not accept: "CAN'T DO " and this crew certainly took that to heart.

On the last day the entire crew worked until 5 A.M. and returned 2 hours later to load up for car show and then worked until 10 that night. Since I was older and smarter I stayed home.

To properly understand these dedicated people you have to understand that they learned these habits early in life. To better describe this I wrote a book called Which Way? U.S. Engineer Education – Fail or Pass. (My first book was The Art and Life of Eloise June Johnson. For copies of either one please leave a comment with a way to reach you.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

We Survived

After five long days at the Denver Auto Show the LH4 is back in the shop.

Our staff team is taking a week off to recuperate. We will catch you next week when we are back and focusing on the drivetrain.

In the meantime a few highlights for you:

- At least 5,000 people through our booth.

- The large number of people who wished us well.

- The couple who drove all the way from South Dakota just to see our car.

- Kenny from the custom bike booth who came and polished the car a few times every day. If you need a professional detailer - one of the best in the business - let us know and we will give you his number. - Shantel, a professional massage therapist, who gave our team chair massages at the close of the show. She's got the magic touch, and we might share her number if you ask nicely.
- Our t-shirts were so popular that quite a few got swiped (at least 20). - The chassis/drivetrain display was a huge hit and really helped to explain our technology.

A few more pictures:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Free T-Shirt?

Coming to the Denver Auto Show? If so, mention that you read our blog and get a free Lightning Hybrids Premier Edition collectible t-shirt.

(while supplies last)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


And now, the blog post you've all been waiting for...

But first, a picture of the finished LH4. (Well, OK, it isn't running yet, so it technically isn't finished, but it is finished enough to show at the Denver Auto Show.)
Pictures cannot begin to do it justice.


A very tired, but giddily happy crew rolled the LH4 into the Colorado Convention Center this morning for the Denver Auto Show.

The car came out of the paint booth at 6 p.m. on Tuesday after intensive painting sessions by our paint team, Matt and Brian, who have the blisters to prove it.

Dan and crew finished putting the car together at 4:30 a.m. There were a few dazed faces and cups of coffee to keep everyone going, and installing the dash almost made us throw in the towel, but Ken pulled out the original CAD designs and it all came together - every seam lined up, every bolt in place.

Delivery this morning meant two trips from Loveland to Denver (about an hour each way) since the car and the LH3 chassis/drivetrain only fit in the trailer we had to buy this week - but not at the same time... So Rich and Ed left at 5:30 to take the chassis down. (Thankfully the snow was supposed to hold off until the afternoon.) They had some trouble getting in to the convention center since it was early, but they were finally allowed access to the floor. After unloading the chassis they headed back to pick up the car.

The entire crew arrived with the car right after 11 - what a thrill to see it roll off that truck!! Even if it was two hours late. At that point we only had an hour before the floor opened for the pre-show to get the car cleaned up and to get the chassis on the display stand (picture below, if you are coming to the show be sure to check it out - it is a great way to see how the engine works with the hydraulics.) We also had to get our new video set up to loop in the 52" TVs. (As soon as we get a dub of the video that we can post we will post it.) It was such a relief when everything was done.

After we finished setting up, Shawn Patrick from Denver's 9News came out for a follow up interview to their February story. Check out the official "unveiling" here.

It started snowing about 4 and so we thought attendance would be light. Not so - our booth was packed the entire night. It was energizing to talk about the car and the technologies and to see people's reaction to it. The most asked question of the night: Where is the door? Some people didn't get it even after viewing the door opening on the video. But that's OK. Some people were very negative about the car. But most people were very encouraging and we heard time and again that the government should have given small companies like ours the auto bailout money. That's a nice vote of confidence! (Wouldn't that be nice... think what we would do with even $1 billion dollars...)

It was a great start to the show.

Next goal: a driveable car for our Open House in May.

But first we have to get through four more days at the Denver Auto Show. Come see us - we're in booth 417, right next to the Mazda booth and the Army booth and their huge Hummer and prairie dog shooting game. (Our car faces the Madza Miata - which is the car we cannibalized for the chassis was back at the beginning of the year. Remember this?)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Denver Auto Show Set-up

We were at the Colorado Convention Center today setting up our booth.

We had some tiles that look like the stone footing the car is on in many of the renderings so we put that in. And didn't like it so we took it back out.

We put up the huge TV stands and info boards. And then we wandered around looking at the cars. Our booth is close to Mazda and the antique car club and Lamborghini. There may or may not have been drool on our chins.

At 6 p.m. the show manager came over and asked where our car was. Evidently all cars were supposed to be on the floor by 6 p.m. tonight. We didn't find that tidbit anywhere in the exhibitors handbook - our handbook it said that exhibits had to be finished by Noon on 4/1 - tomorrow.

They cut us some slack and we have until 8 a.m. tomorrow to have the car there.

Thankfully it came out of the paint booth this evening. It is drying and being detailed. Hopefully the snow storm that is forecast for tomorrow will hold off to the afternoon.

More News

Another news segment that ran today on CBS4 here in Denver. Click here.

Want One?

OK, not a car. Though we do have a growing waiting list for both versions...

How about one of our sweet T-shirts to tide you over? Premier edition. Collectible. (Top - front, bottom - back.)

For now only available at the Denver Auto Show for $20 each. After the show we will offer them for sale on our website - $20 plus $5 shipping and handling. Sizes XS to XXL.

Monday, March 30, 2009

News Coverage

Check out the segment on Denver's Channel 7.

Over the Hurdle

Our last big worry (other than getting the paint dry in time to transport the car) was whether the windshield would fit. We did a normal plug using styrofoam which was used to make the mold. Unfortunately the mold cracked when the glass was put in. If it didn't work there would have been no time to go back and make another one, and obviously, we can't just order a new one. It would have been a deal-breaker for the auto show...

So there was a huge sigh of relief when it came in and when we put it in and...

it fit.
It may not look great now but give us a few hours to get it polished up.

A picture of the LH3 chassis and drivetrain below. You can see an animation of the drivetrain on our Solutions page.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Animated Clips

Our new "commercial" is being edited this weekend - can't wait to see it! In the meantime you can check out some of our new animations of the door opening and the drivetrain in our gallery (up on Monday) and on Youtube (up now).

Three Days, Part II

- Here are the hubcaps on the router and being polished. They look terrific on the wheels.

- The show displays arrived and are ready to go up in our booth. We'll be in booth 417 at the Denver Auto Show - stop by and see us!

Three Days, Part I

Only three days to the Denver Auto Show. Updates:
- LH4 parts are all on the chassis and primered. Painting today and tomorrow.
- The LH3 belly pan is painted and on the chassis. We will be showing the drivetrain in the LH3 chassis at the show and our youngest team member has painted the different parts to match the coloring on our new animation of the drivetrain (animation to be posted soon). Free t-shirt to first person to correctly identify these two painted drivetrain parts... leave a comment including a way to contact you.

- The interior dash is fully molded and the mold will be in the LH4 for the show.

- The seats look awesome.