AFS Trinity Gives the Saturn Vue a 150 mpg Makeover ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: AFS Trinity Gives the Saturn Vue a 150 mpg Makeover

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

AFS Trinity Gives the Saturn Vue a 150 mpg Makeover

XH-150 CutawayAFS Trinity took a 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line SUV and turned it into the XH-150, a 150 mpg gas sipper extreme plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV). Using a hybrid system that utilizes both lithium-ion batteries and ultra capacitors, they not only turned on the fuel economy, but they also improved the power. The SUV can now go 0-60 in 6.9 seconds when in full hybrid mode. That's better than the Lexus RX400h.

The 'extreme' hybrid can go 40 miles up to 87 miles per hour on all electric power assuming a full overnight charge. It can extend it's range to 400 miles when performing as a hybrid.

The cost is about $8,700 more for the technology, but "... if the price of gasoline is, say, $2.85 per gallon, XH™ gasoline cost savings could repay the purchase price premium in 3.5 years," AFS Trinity CEO Edward W. Furia said. "The higher fuel prices go, of course, the faster the premium is repaid. At a price of $5 a gallon, which is the price already being paid in parts of the world, the premium could be repaid in less than three years and the savings would continue to grow. Tax and other incentives could accelerate this process."

Furia also thinks if they put the technology into a sedan, they would get 250 mpg. AFS wants to license the technology to car makers, but if that fails, they would like to raise funding to do it on their own. Furia goes on to say he believes these vehicles could be available in three years and that the price tag will come down as more are sold.

YouTube Video From AFS Trinity describing how the XH works.

Ultra-capacitors were recently seen in use by Toyota, in its Supra Hybrid Engine. Toyota used that engine to win the 24 hour Motor Race.

Update: I noticed some people visiting from technocrat and thought you should know that AFS Trinity is not an Australian company. AFS Trinity is a privately-owned Delaware corporation headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. Their partner on this project was Ricardo, who, I believe, is located in the UK.

Press Release Follows:

DETROIT, January 13, 2008 . . . In just completed road tests, a 2007 SUV straight off an American automaker’s showroom floor and subsequently equipped with the patent pending Extreme Hybrid™ (XH™) drive train, exceeded 150 mpg, AFS Trinity Power Corporation reported today at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

AFS Trinity CEO Edward W. Furia provided details of the tests and the patent pending Fast Energy Storage™ system that makes the Extreme Hybrid™ possible. During Furia’s report, a second, identically-equipped and fully functional SUV demonstrator of the XH™ technology was unveiled and will remain on display throughout the Auto Show.

“Extreme Hybrids™ don’t need high priced technology and don’t require new or expensive fuels, such as hydrogen, which, according to Argonne National Labs, will cost twice as much as gasoline at the pump and require installation of an infrastructure costing half a trillion dollars. The Extreme Hybrid™ is not a concept,” Furia said, “but a practical alternative that relies on cheap electricity from America’s vast existing energy infrastructure—the electric power grid.” Furia also pointed to a recent U.S. DOE study that concluded sufficient excess electrical generating and transmission capacity exists today during off-peak hours in America’s power grid to recharge 84% of America’s light duty car, truck and SUV fleet—184 million vehicles—even if they were all converted to plug-in hybrid drive trains.


According to Furia, the Extreme Hybrid™ tests just completed at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds in South Carolina produced . . .

  • more than 150 miles per gallon of gasoline based on the EPA Combined Urban/Highway Driving Cycle with 6 days per week of 40 miles per day in all electric mode and one day at 100 miles with assistance of the gas engine. Different driving patterns will produce different results
  • 40 mile all-electric range on a single, overnight charge.
  • Extended range of 400 miles with hybrid operation.
  • Rapid acceleration in all modes of operation, including all electric mode in which no gasoline is burned at all.
  • Highway speeds up to 87 miles per hour in either all electric or hybrid mode
  • Even faster acceleration and higher speeds possible in future production models should the company decide to configure them for such performance.

AFS Trinity XH-150™ Performance Comparison Table

AFS Trinity

2008 Lexus

2007 Saturn Vue

2008 Chevrolet
Tahoe Hybrid

Combined City/Hwy Mileage

150 MPG

25 MPG

26 MPG

20 MPG

0-60 time • Full Hybrid mode
• All-electric mode
• Mild Hybrid mode

6.9 secs
11.5 secs
12.5 secs

7.5 secs

12.5 secs

8.1 secs

Top Highway Speed

87 MPH

116 MPH

106 MPH

112 MPH

Weekly Gasoline Cost





Weekly Electricity Cost





Total Weekly Fuel Cost





  1. Fuel economy figures for Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota RX400h, Saturn Vue Greenline reflect published data citing latest 2008 EPA calculation method.
  2. Weekly fuel cost based on gasoline at $3.50/gallon and 40 miles/day of driving Monday through Saturday and 100 miles of driving on Sunday for a total of 340 miles.
  3. Tahoe top speed estimated based on 2007 conventional Tahoe.
  4. Fuel economy figures for XH-150™ based on projections of mixed urban/highway drive cycle.
  5. Electricity cost based on PG&E off-peak EV charging rate of 6 center/kWh.
  6. Top speed based on transmission limit. Higher speeds possible with other components.
  7. Although the XH™ system can be optimized for fuel economy, top speed or acceleration, fuel economy is the company’s priority.

“Keep in mind that these results were not in a small two-seater, but in a medium-size family SUV designed to support a serious supermarket run or a family’s weekend recreational activities,” Furia said.


According to Furia, the next step for AFS Trinity is to license its breakthrough technology to carmakers who want to incorporate the XH™ drive train into their vehicles. “That would be our preference,” said Furia.

“However,” he continued, “If carmakers decide not to take advantage of this offer, AFS Trinity intends to raise the funds to begin modifying existing hybrids or manufacture its own 150 mpg SUV’s and, eventually, 250 mpg sedans. We believe such production models could be available for sale in three years.”

Furia explained, “The SUVs that we just completed that were outfitted with the XH™ drive train could have been any SUV made by anyone. The XH™ is a new generation of plug-in hybrid drive train ready to multiply the gas mileage of any SUV or any standard sedan.”


“In spite of growing popularity of hybrid vehicles,” Furia said, “none of them have delivered gasoline savings sufficient to repay the purchase price premium of the hybrid system during the useful life of the vehicle. With the Extreme Hybrid™ that is about to change.”

Extreme Hybrid technology in commercial production is expected to cost around $8,700 more than current, gas-only SUV’s. “However, if the price of gasoline is, say, $2.85 per gallon, XH™ gasoline cost savings could repay the purchase price premium in 3.5 years,” Furia said. “The higher fuel prices go, of course, the faster the premium is repaid. At a price of $5 a gallon, which is the price already being paid in parts of the world, the premium could be repaid in less than three years and the savings would continue to grow. Tax and other incentives could accelerate this process.”


The technology that made these results possible came from the former space and atomic energy scientists at AFS Trinity's Livermore, California, laboratory with integration of the technology into the American SUVs made possible by respected global automotive engineering leader, Ricardo.

“This has been a collaboration of rocket scientists and car guys,” Furia said. “They have taken the best from aerospace and computer science as well as automotive engineering to produce in a very short time frame and largely with off-the-shelf components a working vehicle prototype in which the XH™ plug-in hybrid drive train has been demonstrated in a family-size SUV.”


Furia said, "The Extreme Hybrid drive train is an economical solution to the high cost of gasoline, the dangers of oil dependence and the environmental damage caused by too much gasoline being used to travel too few miles.”

“This is a time in automotive development where many promises have been made and a wait-and-see attitude has developed,” Furia said. “The XH-150 is not a promise but a fact with ‘tires to kick.’ The XH-150 does not require exotic or controversial fuels, it works within the present energy infrastructure, and components are available off-the-shelf at reasonable prices – prices that will only drop lower as volume demand increases. Just as important, XH™ production vehicles are capable of being built now at prices many people can afford.”

AFS Trinity issued a 14-page summary of key factors surrounding the XH-150, including how the Extreme Hybrid technology works. (Editors’ note: If the summary is not attached it is available as .pdf file by emailing

Furia also invited review of the XH-150 data gathered during road tests at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds by visiting


“Addressing the central limitations of chemical batteries was critical to creating the Extreme Hybrid,” Furia explained. “Batteries work best when they provide a slow, steady flow of electricity. Offering enough power for fast acceleration is difficult and damaging to batteries, and this is especially true as batteries become deeply discharged.”

“The most common solution is to employ many more batteries and simply shallow-discharge them, which is impractical for all but expensive, exotic vehicles. Instead, the Extreme Hybrid accesses AFS Trinity’s long history of developing Fast Energy™ solutions for NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and others. At the heart of this new Fast Energy™ technology are patent pending control electronics to cache power for short periods in ultra-capacitors and provide this power in bursts for all-electric acceleration that is better, in many cases, than the internal combustion engine of the host vehicle,” Furia said. “Until the Extreme Hybrid, hybrids have resorted to gasoline to satisfy acceleration demands.”


According to Furia, one reason carmakers have resisted plug-in hybrids has been reports of some isolated, but troubling fires involving lithium batteries in laptops that were pushed beyond thermal limits. “All devices through which currents are drawn experience some resistive heating, including all types of batteries. Batteries can be safe if they avoid excessive resistive heating. By using ultra-capacitors as pools of rapid energy," Furia explained, "the proprietary control electronics of the Extreme Hybrid™ not only keep the batteries within safe resistive heating limits, but also extend battery life. We regard XH™ technology as an important safety breakthrough, which is a critical factor in making Extreme Hybrids™ practical now."


“Gasoline mileage is calculated by using average American driving patterns estimated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and simulating the EPA combined urban/highway driving cycle of the host vehicle operating only with its conventional hybrid drive train. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 78% of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. On those days, drivers of Extreme Hybrids will need no gasoline at all -- even driving an SUV,” Furia said.

“Say someone drives 40 miles a day 6 days a week and 100 miles the seventh. That’s 340 miles a week. The first 280 are electric. The next 60 miles use gas. That’s 340 miles on a little more than two gallons of gasoline for the week, assuming 32/29 urban/highway mileage in the host unmodified hybrid SUV. Although this translates into 170 MPG, we use a more conservative 150 MPG to take into account that mileage will vary depending on where and how a car is driven, but we are comfortable that 150 miles per gallon of gasoline is a good number.”

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Nozferatu said...

Man on man...if to costs $60 a week to fill a Tahoe HYBRID...imagine the regular car...

There are ALOT of douches out there driving stupid cars....what a shame the world is going to waste over these complete douchebags.

Anonymous said...

This concept is revolutionary! If the U. S. auto industry disreguards this as it has others. Well, too bad for them. They have already failed by not paying attention to the reality of what is really needed.
What about a conversion kits for other vehicles similar to the Saturn?

Mike said...

If you are asking if AFS Trinity has a kit for other cars, I'm not sure. As far as I can tell, they only have the two cars they have done for demonstration purposes.

I have seen other companies do conversions on the Ford Escape Hybrid and Prius.

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