NEWS

Electrification Company Reveals Plug-In Hybrid Ford F-250

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Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman

Boston-based XL Fleet Electrification is looking to improve heavy-duty truck mileage with its newest aftermarket hybrid system, which it unveiled in a plug-in hybrid Ford Super Duty F-250 at The Work Truck Show 2019 in Indianapolis.

Related: More Work Truck Show Coverage

XL says the new PHEV F-250 will get 50 percent better fuel economy and drop tailpipe emissions by 33 percent thanks to the add-on systems the company installs . It builds off a pretty simple premise: A bed-mounted battery and driveshaft-mounted electric drive motor are controlled by a proprietary engine control unit, all of which operates as the truck is driven normally. It's meant to operate seamlessly, with the goal of greatly reducing the stress and demand on the vehicle's gasoline V-8 — it's not available on Power Stroke diesel versions of the Super Duty.

The F-250's plug-in hybrid system uses a 15-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged via a household Level 1 (household 120-volt) or Level 2 (240-volt) outlet, or the industry-standard J1772 connector available at many public or private EV charging stations. Recharging the battery pack takes about five hours on a 240-volt system, according to Eric Foellmer, XL's director of marketing, who spoke with PickupTrucks.com at industry trade show. Plug it into a standard 120-volt outlet, and you're looking at about twice that, or around 10 hours to fully recharge. The company is researching the possibility of Level 3 fast-charging at higher voltages, but that's still on the drawing board, according to Foellmer, as is using the battery for "exportable power," enabling remote powering of other items like power tools or other external systems.

The entire XL hybrid PHEV system reportedly weighs 750 pounds, is easily added to the vehicle's factory components and does not affect the original Ford factory warranty; XL is a Ford qualified vehicle modifier. The battery is installed in a special bed box along with the electronic control components that tie into the truck's communications. The charging port is located in the rear bumper, opposite the trailer wiring sockets. The hybrid system operates by the XL ECU reading outputs from the truck's sensors such as wheel speed, engine rpm, etc., and calculating what its own electric systems need to do to alleviate the load on the engine. It's operational during acceleration and deceleration — giving a boost to the powertrain on acceleration and using the electric motor as a regenerative system to recapture battery energy when the driver applies the brakes. At speeds above 40-50 mph (depending on the truck's specifications), the XL systems do not provide powered assistance.

We drove the last year, XL's standard hybrid with a much smaller battery pack and were able to confirm it gets its claimed fuel economy. We also tested XL's version of the and found it to be equally impressive, returning exceptional fuel economy numbers even when loaded to maximum payload. The cost for this one is a little steeper than the F-250 we drove; total cost for the PHEV system will run between $25,000 and $27,000, depending on the specs for the donor truck (4×2 or 4×4, wheelbase, bed and cab style, etc.). The final bill of materials and a few other items are still being worked out. Big interest is being shown by utilities and municipalities, according to Foellmer, with the push toward local sustainability and reduction of carbon output at the city and state level in lieu of larger national standards.

XL expects to have XLP F-250s in customer hands by the end of 2019.

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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