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The electric and alternative energy industry has grown astronomically in just the past few decades. The need for eliminating fossil fuels and carbon emissions has grown more important to almost everyone in the world and is arguably the quickest growing industry in the world.

Near the head of this fight is the automobile industry, blending technology and design to make better vehicles for a better future. Companies like Tesla have made strides in the electric world, but innovation sparks from elsewhere as well. And one young man is ready to take Elon Musk’s throne with just one small startup. 

Thomas Healy makes “30 Under 30” list for electric startup

Back in 2017, a young man named Thomas Healy put himself on the radar with a startup company of his own founding. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Healy received a Bachelor of Arts/Science from Carnegie Mellon University. Striving to be an innovator in the energy and electric-vehicle field, Healy started Hyllion from the ground up in 2015.

This earned young Healy a spot on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for 2017, and for good reason. According to Forbes, Healy and his Hyliion startup impressively “developed a regenerative braking device that can be installed on long-haul trucks to capture otherwise wasted energy and reduce fuel use by 30%.” Even though none of its tech had even entered the production phase, Hyliion promised a future of success.

After only a few years, Hyliion is making waves

Healy’s startup company, Hyliion, was only a few years old when he was named on Forbes’ list. Now, Hyliion is on track to compete with the biggest and best electric/energy companies in the world. In fact, Forbes claims that Hyliion is on the projection “to compete with Tesla and Nikola in the electric-powered big rig revolution.”

Hyliion’s “e-axle” is where Healy believes he’s found the answer for bringing “electric power to the world of long-haul trucking.”

The e-axle is powered by lithium-ion batteries and could be incorporated into the drivetrain of large trucks. As a bolt-on piece of machinery, the e-axle could be retrofitted for older trucks or built into new models.

Its purpose is to “provide a helping hand” by adding power and torque to increase the efficiency of the diesel engine, lower emissions, improving fuel-efficiency, and also capturing additional power through regenerative braking.

Just two years after making Forbes’ list, in 2019, the automotive parts company Dana Inc. invested in Hyliion. Together, the two started manufacturing and marketing Healy’s device to the parts company’s customers, including Peterbilt and Volvo. And according to Money Inc., at 28, he’s set to become the youngest self-made billionaire in America.

Later the same year, Healy agreed to a merger with Tortoise Acquisition Corp. This helped Hyliion establish nearly $600 million in funding for the development of both the e-axle and Hyliion’s next idea, the “Hypertruck ERX.” These newly designed trucks feature an all-electric drivetrain, which utilizes an electric motor, inverter, and axle technology from Dana. 

Is Thomas Healy the next Elon Musk?

Elon Musk smiles for a photo on the red carpet
Tesla CEO Elon Musk | BRITTA PEDERSEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

There are certainly similarities between electric-tech giant Elon Musk and up-and-coming Healy. Both are young entrepreneurs, breaking rules and making waves in the alternative-fuel, energy, and automobile industries. But Healy’s approach to the electrification of heavy-duty trucks is entirely different from Musk’s and most others’.

Most companies seeking to enter the world of electric big-rigs have tried to design the truck from the ground up. Healy used common sense, knowing “there was no need to try to do it better than existing truck makers who already had big factories and happy customers.”

Instead, it would be a much better idea to design and build something that would still allow customers to buy what they know and love, with a revolutionary change.


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