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.)