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Plug-in Hybrid Technologies Licensed

November 14, 2007

Pioneering inventions in plug-in hybrid vehicle technology and transmission systems developed at UC Davis have been licensed to Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI) of Palo Alto, Calif., under an agreement negotiated by the UC Davis InnovationAccess unit.

The technology draws on decades of work by Andy Frank, professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering at UC Davis.

"UC Davis is very pleased to have played a role in bringing this important technology to the marketplace," said David McGee, executive director of technology transfer and business development at InnovationAccess.

EDI was founded in 2006 to commercialize Frank's technology. The company plans to partner with auto designers and manufacturers so that they can rapidly introduce advanced plug-in hybrid technology into their vehicles. The company also hopes to establish its own automotive research and development center in Davis, said Joerg Ferchau, the company's chief executive officer.

Unlike hybrid-electric vehicles currently on the market, plug-in hybrids can recharge their batteries from a domestic power supply, allowing most short-range trips to be completed on electric power alone.

Frank's designs for a "parallel" hybrid powertrain allow significant increases in fuel efficiency compared with hybrids currently on the market, Ferchau said. The licensing package also includes an "intelligent," continuously variable transmission that automatically selects the right power ratio and eliminates gear shifting.

Plug-in hybrid technology offers a solution to the problem of shifting from transportation powered by oil to vehicles powered by electricity, Frank said.

"The plug-in hybrid displaces more oil than any other technique, without a change in infrastructure," he said.

Frank has been working on developing fuel-efficient vehicles for more than 30 years. He advises a team of UC Davis students that has designed and built a series of award-winning vehicles to take part in the Futurecar, Futuretruck and ChallengeX competitions, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and leading companies in the auto industry.

About UC Davis InnovationAccess

UC Davis InnovationAccess actively manages a patent portfolio of 841 inventions reflecting the diversity of the campus's research base, and seeks opportunities to commercialize these via licensing, with 485 currently active licensees. UC Davis has also seen an upsurge in startup companies emerging from campus research and technologies, with nearly 20 companies founded since 2005. The UC Davis InnovationAccess team is comprised of more than 20 professionals with PhDs, JDs, and MBAs with significant private-sector experience.

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