Friday, July 29, 2011

Reducing Battery Costs for Fleet Vehicles

Each month, we like to interview CCIA members to talk about what innovative technologies they are developing, how their business is progressing and what they get out of being a member of Colorado Cleantech Industry Association.

Here we met with John Bryan, Chief Technology Officer for Fleet Energy Company.

What do you do?
Fleet Energy Company (FEC) is virtual power plant aggregator and project developer for electrification of medium and heavy duty fleet vehicles to be used in grid support of renewables integration and grid security. FEC is a spin off from Burt Fleet Services - a $2.4 Billion commercial fleet sales company.

We work in transportation-energy storage to convert everything from school buses to commercial delivery vehicles from diesel-fueled engines to plug-in electric motors. We make it affordable for businesses through leasing and then contracting the buses’ big power batteries to utilities and others that need a place to store power.

How long have you been in business?
Burt Automotive Network has been in business since 1939, but seeing enormous potential in the fleet services division, made the decision last year to focus on their commercial fleet division and sell off most of it’s car dealerships.

How did you get into the cleantech business?
I have worked in the energy industry since 2007. I was previously Xcel Energy’s Utility Innovations’ Program Manager responsible for their Vehicle-to-Grid Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (V2G PHEV) project. Also at Xcel, I was a subject matter expert for their $100M SmartGridCity™, and Program Manager for the utility’s 1 MW/7.2 MWh Wind to Battery Energy Storage project.

Previously, I worked as a manufacturing quality engineer from the automotive manufacturing industry and worked for a Tier 1 supplier to Ford, GM, Toyota, and others. So I have experience in both the automotive and energy services industries, so it was a natural fit for me to help launch Fleet Energy Company.

What's the biggest thing you've learned so far from the startup process?
I’m really a jack of all trades. Managing everything from sales and marketing to business operations has been challenging but fun. I’ve gotten a lot of advice from CREED and CCIA about how to refine the way I talk about my business and through the CleanLaunch Technology Incubator program, I get advice on other parts of my business that I’m not as experienced in. It’s nice to be so close to that expertise.

Has it been helpful to be a member of CCIA? How so?
The collaboration between CREED and Colorado Cleantech Industry Association has been enormously helpful to grow my business. I have a great group of business advisors both from NREL and the local community who are always available to me. As part of the CleanLaunch, I can tap the expertise and technologies coming out of NREL.

Finally, where are you going next with your business?
We are focused on growing our fleet partnership division with smart grid companies and other utility-scale companies that can provide our commercial customers with access to the grid. We have a lot of interest from the commercial fleet market because we offer clean-energy vehicle at a fraction of the cost of what they would pay if they bought the vehicle outright. We see the market potential for this business model to be in the billions of dollars and we haven’t seen a lot of competition out there.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative interview on one of the most important aspects of fleet services. Powering these vehicles is very important because all of the vehicles need to have the latest and up to date standards at all times. It is something that all companies should strive for when leasing commercial vehicles.