Home Feature NC State Grads Help Turn Gas Guzzlers Into Hybrid Cars

NC State Grads Help Turn Gas Guzzlers Into Hybrid Cars

by Maija Ehlinger

When COVID shut down their shop space, three NC State graduates spent the spring and summer of 2020 in a parking lot building the future of hybrid cars.

“We had freezing rain, then 100-degree heat in the middle of summer,” Micah Ulrich told Hypepotamus. “I never could have predicted that I would get my engineering degree and instead of working in a cushy office environment I’d be under a truck in July.”

But like anyone bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Ulrich and his co-founders Cody Biedermann and Clay Dowdey did what they could to bring their idea to life. And what they are creating could play an important role in making transportation and business more sustainable.

Flux Hybrids, born out of the three co-founder’s time at North Carolina State University, looks to more easily transform a car into a hybrid electric vehicle.

Conversion kits are added to traditionally gas-powered cars, which in turn captures energy wasted during the breaking process. “It’s more efficient, better for the planet, and you can actually get more power out of the system, so it’s more fun to drive,” Ulrich told Hypepotamus.

“What we do is add that missing electric power into your vehicle without taking anything out from your original vehicle. So it operates the same as before, just a lot more efficiently,” added Biedermann.

Their products include plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and HEV models for both commercial and consumer vehicles. While other conversion options are out on the market, Flux Hybrids’ kits can be uninstalled or reinstalled based on a fleet’s specific needs.

Ulrich and Biedermann initially met while working on NC State’s solar car team, and started on Flux Hybrids through the university’s Engineering Entrepreneurs Program. The team participated in the 2020 Joules Accelerator out of Charlotte, a CleanTech program designed to help startups connect to commercialization opportunities.

The team sees a unique opportunity to fill a gap for larger transportation fleets trying to figure out the best way to become more sustainable in the long run. Biedermann said this is particularly important to help bring hybrid options to pickup trucks and vans, which are important for transportation and delivery fleets.

“A lot of [fleets] are looking at ways to electrify but they can’t necessarily go all-electric. The Southeast gets hits at least once a year with a hurricane…how are you going to charge in that scenario? So we’re looking to give them a different option,” added Ulrich.

The team told Hypepotamus that their first prototype, installed on a Ford Ranger, was able to double the gas mileage and reduce emissions by 40%.

Flux Hybrids is helping companies think more sustainably both from a business and an environmental standpoint. While decreasing fuel expense and a car’s carbon footprint, the conversion kits collect data on speed, idling, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, according to the company’s website.

Most of their interest to date has come from municipal governments, but they see their technology having an impact on car rental, dealership, delivery, and public transportation industries.

The team recently participated in The Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED)’s GRO Incubator, becoming one of the latest CleanTech transportation startups to come out of the Raleigh area.

 

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