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.