The Wright stuff

Ian Wright, a co-founder of Tesla Motors, has a new vision for clean vehicles: not snazzy, high-priced runabouts, but the 2.2 million trucks that now lumber through cities and along highways, belching smoke and wasting fuel.

Wright and his team have created a new design of a hybrid electric powertrain that, they say, is 30 percent more fuel efficient and delivers three times the power of today’s best systems. And, it can run on a range of petroleum liquids and gases, biodiesel or even landfill gas while meeting all of California’s tough emissions requirements. The gear-shifting and other functions are controlled by computers to squeeze every bit of efficiency from the fuel and the vehicle’s remaining mechanical systems. 

Wright claims his drivetrain can save the average garbage truck $500,000 in fuel and upkeep costs over its lifetime. FedEx and other fleet owners are signing up to try Wright’s invention.

Electric cars are sexy, but clean air and fuel conservation depend just as much on new generations of truck technology. Municipalities and private fleet buyers will grow this market exponentially over the next decade, particularly after 2020 when more clean truck technologies are proven and on the market.

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