Hybrid technologies licensed

Hybrid vehicle technology developed at UC Davis has been licensed to start-up Efficient Drivetrains to commercialise.

Pioneering inventions in plug-in hybrid vehicle technology and transmission systems developed at UC Davis have been licensed to Efficient Drivetrains (EDI) of Palo Alto, California, under an agreement negotiated by the UC Davis Innovation Access unit.

The technology draws on decades of work by Andy Frank, professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering at UC Davis.

EDI was founded to commercialise Frank’s technology. The company plans to partner with auto designers and manufacturers so that they can rapidly introduce advanced plug-in hybrid technology into their vehicles. The company also hopes to establish its own automotive research and development centre in Davis, said Joerg Ferchau, the company’s chief executive officer.

Unlike hybrid-electric vehicles currently on the market, plug-in hybrids can recharge their batteries from a domestic power supply, allowing most short-range trips to be completed on electric power alone.

Frank’s designs for a ‘parallel’ hybrid powertrain allow significant increases in fuel efficiency compared with hybrids currently on the market, Ferchau said. The licensing package also includes an ‘intelligent’, continuously variable transmission that automatically selects the right power ratio and eliminates gear shifting.

Frank has been working on developing fuel-efficient vehicles for more than 30 years. He advises a team of UC Davis students that has designed and built a series of award-winning vehicles to take part in the Futurecar, Futuretruck and ChallengeX competitions, sponsored by the US Department of Energy and leading companies in the auto industry.