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Wrightspeed: One Man's Trash…

By Bill Moore

… Is another man's treasure, and in this case Ian Wright aims to be that man. He's spent the last decade figuring out that the real money isn't in electric sports cars, but 1,000 hp garbage trucks.

After a brief stint helping engineer the Tesla Roadster, New Zealand-expatriate Ian Wright decided to build his own electric sports car, the blazingly quick X1 capable of blasting from zero to sixty miles per hour in 2.9 seconds. It generated tons of media attention for Wright, but it turned out to be more a publicity stunt than anything else, he admits during his 30-minute conversation with EV World's Bill Moore.

Wrightspeed X1

Clearly, Wright knew electric drive technology, but what to do with that knowledge was the million dollar question. The answer didn't come quickly or easily. It took the intervening decade between the 2005 launch of Wrightspeed and last week's debut of his company's new Fulcum microturbine range extender for heavy trucks. Immediately below is an early computer illustration of the system's inverter, e-motor, and gearbox.

Wrightspeed Fulcrum range extender

So, why would the man who helped launch Tesla and followed up with the X1 decide to build drive systems for garbage trucks? Simple. That's where the money is.

For Wright the central question was, how can we save the most amount of fuel? It wasn't by electrifying private passenger cars that might burn a few hundred gallons of gasoline annually. It was in, of all things, waste collection trucks that can burn 14,000 gallons of fuel a year and typically get less an 3 mpg on dirty, polluting diesel fuel. Here was a not very exotic or sexy market seriously in need of disruption. That disruption is coming in the form of the $200K, 250 lbs. Fulcum microturbine and its supporting range extender kit, capable of producing as much as a 1,000 horsepower.

Wrightspeed Fulcrum range extender on Fedex test chassis

Ian is very candid about how it took time and knocks to come to realize that he and his team could have the biggest impact environmentally and financially not in launching a competitor to Tesla, but in cleaning up the act the heavy truck and waste collection industries.

Be sure to listen to the entire interview using the embedded MP3 player below, or feel free to download it so you can listen to it on your favorite MP3 device.

Times Article Viewed: 14135
Originally published: 12 May 2015

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