A supervan rolled into Penn's Landing yesterday and unloaded two vehicles that their owners hope will revolutionize the auto and oil industries.
Inside the van were two hybrid SUVs, called XH-150s, that their creator claims will outperform anything on the road so far.
They will get more than 150 miles per gallon, zoom from 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and cruise along the highway at 85 mph, according to the manufacturer.
"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," said Edward W. Furia, chief executive officer of AFS Trinity Power Corp., the manufacturer.
"In other words, it's designed for the typical tree-hugging soccer mom."
Furia had the cars stationed in a large parking lot at Penn's Landing. There, he offered rides to reporters and to car-company executives. He said he would be back again today doing the same thing.
The cars weren't built from scratch. They started out as General Motors Saturn Vue Greenlines, taken straight off the showroom floor and equipped with a drive-train called the Extreme Hybrid, or XH.
"Extreme Hybrids don't need high-priced technology and don't require new or expensive fuels," Furia said. "They are not a concept but a practical alternative that relies on cheap electricity from America's vast existing energy infrastructure - the electric-power grid."
Extreme Hybrid technology in commercial production is expected to cost about $8,700 more than gas-only SUVs, he said.
Furia, who lives in Seattle, is a native Philadelphian who organized the first Earth Day celebration in Philadelphia in 1970. He became regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971 and has had a career in energy conservation.
Furia said that 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," he said. "However, 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 SUVs, and, eventually, 250-mpg sedans. We believe such production models could be available in three years.
"We're in 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.'