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Ready for Delivery: Mexicoï¿œs Vehizero Captures the Hybrid Market

Rob Katz is a Research Analyst with the World Resources Institute's Development through Enterprise project; he blogs about private sector approaches to development at

ecco%203%20%20049v-ray.jpg Anyone familiar with Mexico City can agree on one thing – the city’s got a smog problem. Emissions due to congested roadways and heavy volume only exacerbate an already dangerous environmental situation. A state-of-the-art bus rapid transit system METROBUS, opened nine months ago and recently celebrated its 50 millionth passenger – alleviating commuters’ congestion and stemming pollution. Despite such progress, smog and traffic remain obstacles to Mexico City’s becoming the kind of “bright green” place often lauded here at Worldchanging.

One major remaining obstacle is the urban delivery market – small trucks that keep big cities stocked with fresh produce from the countryside and manufactured goods from the ports. These trucks typically guzzle gas on their congested delivery routes, pumping out emissions while cutting into their owners’ bottom line in the form of high fuel costs. It was these economic incentives that pushed Vehizero, Mexico’s first and only hybrid vehicle manufacturer, into operation.

Using an internal combustion engine and patented regenerative braking technology, Vehizero’s light truck uses 60 percent less fuel than its most-efficient competitor. Furthermore, truck owners pay fewer road taxes and lower insurance premiums because the trucks’ unique design lowers the risk of theft. From an environmental point of view, emission reductions equal 7.2 tons of carbon per vehicle per year. The trucks have been so successful that the company had to stop taking orders until it can ramp up production.

When it does, though – look out. Vehizero plans to introduce a three-ton truck, 100 passenger bus, and small personal vehicle by 2010 in order to complement its popular light truck and hybrid taxi, both already on the market. How do companies like Vehizero get started? Sustainable business incubators spread the word and hook start-ups to venture capital. Bright green future? One truck at a time.

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how does its engine work?

Posted by: jclavijo on 21 Apr 06

Thanks for your comment, Jesus. Here's a link to the Vehizero fleet description, including technical specifications:

Vehizero Catalog

The truck, for instance, boasts a nominal 26.5 HP electric engine complemented by a single-cylinder, 4 HP internal combustion engine. It has a 5 speed manual transmission and can reach speeds of up to 100 km/hr using an electric/gas hybrid system.

Personally, I'm not sure how a delivery truck can get by on 27.5 horsepower, but perhaps I'm off by a factor of ten and we're really talking about 275 horses.

Posted by: Rob on 21 Apr 06

weird, the electric motor outputs (and therefore, consumes) more power than the gas engine can generate.

from this page (translated with bablefish):

Electric Motor: 26.5 - 70 HP
Internal Combustion: 4 HP, 1 cylinder 4 times (i think 4 times means 4 stroke)

i suspect it's a series hybrid. the motor's only purpose would be to generate power constantly. so when you take the truck out on deliveries it idles and generates power.

anyone who speaks spanish want to dig up more details?

Posted by: josh on 21 Apr 06

I am native spanish speaker

The specs for the truck say:
Electric Motor: 26.5 HP nominal 70 HP max.
Internal Combustion Enine: 4 HP, 1 cilinder 4 strokes.

The specs for the car say:
Electric Motor: 17 HP nominal, 35 HP max.
Internal Combustion Engine: 34 HP, 1 cilinder, 4 valves, electronic fuel injection.

The 4 HP for the truck is most likely a typo, 34 HP or 40 HP is more likely. The combustio engine however can probably be smaller than the electric engine, as Mexico (the whole country) has many small "changarros", more than 800,000 mom an pop convenience stores. So a delivery route for a truck like this in Mexico city involves very many closely spaced stops, so the combustion engine can be running when the truck is stoped making deliveries, recharging the batteries, so the truck would move mostly on the electric motor for short drives between stops for delivery, while the combustion engine would be running most of the time recharging the batteries.

Despite that, 4 HP does not sound right, so it is most likely a typo

Posted by: Jorge on 21 Apr 06

The engine uses gasoline but may be adapted to burn other fuels. It operates at it's peak
efficiency at a constant rate. No accelerations
or decelerations. The vehicle is destined for
urban use ergo, although the capacity of the engine is small, by making use of idle time, it is more than enough. That is part of the magic of hybrids, you can do more with less when in an urban setting.

The vehicles work with the 27.5 HP's that the electric motor provides. It can reach a top speed of 120 Kms per hour and has cargo capacity specification for 1 ton although it can carry a great deal more.
Do take into account however that electric motor hps do not behave exactly as internal combustion hps do.

It is indeed a series hybrid. The taxi model that we are working on being a parallel hybrid.

Jorge, you are right in all except that it is not a typo, we do use a 4HP engine that is capable of driving a generator that is constantly generating 20 amp at 120 volts.
Our lead acid deep cycle batteries are unable to absorb larger amounts of energy than those, therefore additional generating capacity would be wasted.

Posted by: Sean on 1 May 06



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