Ikea Invests in Hybrid Fleet-Vehicle Company XL Hybrids

Hybrid trucks could be perfect for hauling flat-pack furniture.

XL Hybrids

In the absence of widely-available electrified pickup trucks and commercial vehicles, XL Hybrids has found a niche converting existing vehicles into hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

The Boston-based company just secured $22 million in Series D capital funding, with Ikea contributing an undisclosed amount. The major investor in this funding round was Constellation Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of Exelon Corporation. The investment is a significant vote of confidence for XL Hybrids from a major corporation.

XL Hybrids specializes in converting or "upfitting" new vehicles for fleet buyers. It currently offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid conversions for a variety of vehicle, including Ford F-150 and F-250 pickups, Ford Transit and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana vans, shuttle buses, and box trucks.

The upfitting process essentially involves adding an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack to a vehicle's existing powertrain. XL Hybrids claims this can improve fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent.

While the Ikea investment doesn't necessarily mean the Swedish furniture giant will automatically commission a fleet of XL Hybrids trucks, the company's hybrids seem like ideal tools for hauling around Ikea products. XL Hybrids already counts Coca-Cola and San Diego Gas & Electric among its customers.

Electrifying fleet vehicles could have a major impact on carbon emissions, since those vehicles rack up substantially more mileage than the average passenger car. But XL Hybrids may soon face stiffer competition in the form of Ford's promised hybrid F-150, and a host of electric commercial vehicles from the likes of Daimler and startup Chanje.