The big question for Meteor Power was what to do next?
Having developed rapid charge battery packs, designed new electric motors and rapid charging systems, sophisticated electric vehicle control systems, etc. the big question was “what’s next?”.
Everyone felt that the freight sector was being ignored. Sure, there were a few companies betting heavily on battery or Hydrogen powered trucks but the world was filled with perfectly usable vehicles that had fallen out of favour due to constantly evolving emissions regulations.
The question then became whether older trucks had enough residual value to justify investing in upgrading the powertrain, etc. The answer was probably not, but when we asked the same question of the rail industry we found the market was very different.
An industry where some operational locomotives were over sixty years old, where maintenance over their lifetime was more expensive than buying a house and where all the big shiny new development was about moving passengers whilst the country relied on the railways to deliver freight.
A new hybrid electric shunter locomotive will cost upwards of £1M and a new mainline hybrid freight locomotive from between £4.5M and £6.5M.
The rest of the industry have billions of pounds worth of rail assets that are becoming obsolete, either due to a lack of spare parts, poor reliability, expensive maintenance, increased fuel costs or new emissions legislation.
A complete engine rebuild on a medium sized locomotive can cost of £100K. A complete chassis overhaul can cost more than £250K, sometimes as much as £500K or more.
The failure of sixty year old wiring, or even twenty year old wiring, can render a locomotive useless.
Or how about the need for the locomotive to deliver clean pressurised air in order to move a, for example, modern passenger train, but that clean air is only available on a modern freight locomotive or an expensive upgrade to an older locomotive.
What is required is a way of delivering a drop in modern hybrid electric powertrain, auxiliary power systems, advanced control systems. etc. to fit any of the more common and widely used freight locomotives.
This is what Meteor Power has done. Testing is underway and will be out on trial with several interested parties in the new year.