Driving the Bay State to greener pastures

Joe McCabe installs an XL Hybrid motor into a customer’s car at XL Hybrid’s Somerville garage.

Detroit has long been considered the auto capital of the country, but Massachusetts is starting to rev up its efforts in the clean automotive tech industry.  

Sen. Scott Brown recently proposed a tax break for individuals and businesses who turn their fleet of vehicles into more fuel-efficient hybrid cars.

Two local companies that work to turn gas-run cars into hybrids consider Brown’s proposal, along with climbing gas prices, as good for the Earth and better for business.

“We can reduce gasoline consumption and a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, which is why our target is commercial fleets," said Amy McKnight Fazen of XL Hybrids in Somerville.

XL, made up of 10 employees, retrofits gas-powered cars into hybrids using a regenerative breaking system. The company’s focus is on retrofitting cars, like Ford’s Crown Victoria, that are commonly used by government agencies or even commercial vans. A123 Systems in Waltham makes lithium batteries for hybrid cars.

Both companies cheered Brown’s proposal, but the biggest boost for them, experts said, may be the growing pain people are feeling at the pump.

“There’s already a massive shift among consumers toward greater fuel efficiency, all you have to do is look at the price of the pump,” said Brad Berman of Hybridcars.com.



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