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:

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: