Revolutionary tech business could be forced to leave region
A LISMORE-based company which invented a fuel-saving device for trucks may leave the region if it fails to attract local investment, taking potential jobs and local profits with it.
The technology developed by Advanced Hybrid Solutions promises to save up to 30% in fuel costs on heavy-duty suburban vehicles such as garbage trucks and municipal buses.
It does that by capturing the energy used during braking, storing it and then releasing it back into the engine during upon acceleration.
Similar technology is being marketed in the US, Advanced Hybrid Solutions believes its system is more robust, flexible, and almost half the price of its competitors.
"Nobody has come up with the same configuration we've got, and we've done it on a shoestring," said the company's director Neil Hargreaves.
Last year Mr Hargreaves led an initial round of capital raising from local investors to get a working prototype up and running.
The next goal is to test the unit commercially on up to 10 trucks, for which the company needs to raise a further $300,000.
"Our aim is try to have these sold commercially within 12 months," Mr Hargreaves said.
This week the company met with Adelaide-based business Green Star Engineering which is looking to form a partnership to develop and distribute the technology in Adelaide and Melbourne.
A major Australian university has also been in talks over developing the technology further.
The market for the device is potentially huge, with councils and city bus companies expected to be the key customers.
Green Star Engineering managing director Arie Overduin said his company had been looking at a range of "hybrid drivelines" and the AHS system was ahead of the curve.
"We believe in the Advanced Hybrid Solutions system and we're happy to market it in South Australia and Adelaide," Mr Overduin said.
"You're really looking at fuel savings in the range of 30% or more, and that's not something you can easily discard as a company operating a number of trucks or buses."
Mr Hargreaves is a former shareholder of the defunct local company Permo-Drive, which was developing a similar technology but folded after wasting money on marketing the concept before it had finished the product.
Mr Hargreaves he had always believed in the technology's potential and launched Advanced Hybrid to find the solution, operating on a much more austere budget focused on concrete outcomes.
"We've done what they were unable to do," he said.
He because there were hundreds of Northern Rivers investors who were "burned" by Permo-Drive's mismanagement, some locals were reluctant to invest in the new system.
If no local investment was forthcoming, the system would be probably be sold - and profits and jobs from the technology's potential would end up elsewhere.
"It's fairly crucial at this stage that we raise some funds to keep it going here," he said.
"We'd like to see the local councils using the technology in their garbage compactors, it's got a lot to offer as far as pollution reduction as well as fuel saving.
"I'm determined to make it work and make it work locally, but if we can't I'm happy to surrender it."