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Hybrid conversion firm gets contract to work on GM vans

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Hybrid conversion firm gets contract to work on GM vans



UNION CITY, Ind. -- In a small factory in eastern Indiana, workers are gearing up to convert 10,000 General Motors gasoline-powered vehicles to hybrids during the next five years.

The relatively young company doing the work already is so successful in the fast-moving evolution of the automotive industry's move toward alternative fuels that an international player in hybrid fuel systems has snapped it up.

Productive Concepts Inc., in a community of 5,000 that straddles the Indiana-Ohio line, has won the bidding for hefty contracts with GM and the Indiana state government that may signal the future for hybrid vehicles.

President and company founder Rob Lykins said six GM vans are pilots in a program to convert at least 10,000 GM vehicles over the next five years from gasoline to hybrid, renewable or alternative fuels that are cheaper to run.

As part of the pilot program, the new GM Savana and Express cargo vans with their after-market fuel systems are to be crashed, smashed and rammed.

In the next couple of months, the PCI shop plans to complete the hybrid conversion on about 15 more brand-new GM vans.

It's a big contract for the small PCI, a company that is growing to 75 workers by the end of the year.

Then after PCI won the bidding for the GM deal, the calls started from competitors, suppliers and others.

GM is starting this month to authorize dealers to begin selling versions of the hybrid vans.

Along came a call from IMPCO Technologies, a division of New York-based Fuel Systems Solutions. It is the maker of the parts and kits that PCI uses to convert several thousand cars and trucks a year from gasoline or diesel to also run on electricity, natural gas or propane.

"IMPCO is big, doing about 20,000 to 30,000 conversions a year in Europe," but nothing in the emerging U.S. market for fuel conservation, Lykins said.

In a deal that closed Tuesday, Fuel Systems Solutions bought PCI's alternative-fuel business for $11.1 million, including the assumption of nearly $1 million in PCI debt.

Read more: Hybrid conversion firm gets contract to work on GM vans | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20100902/BUSINESS01/9020415/1210/Business01/Hybrid-conversion-firm-gets-contract-to-work-on-GM-vans#ixzz0yNPTeIuG

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