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Voice Of An Innovator – Frank Cloutier

April 23, 2010

After a Stellar HP Career, Cloutier Creates Concept Cars

In my Jan 19 post about the Detroit Auto Show and the 2010 Automotive X-Prize I lamented. “Sad to say that no Oregon teams are participating in this contest.” Turns out we do have a team right here in Corvallis working on a vehicle entered in the competition. That team is headed-up by a renown HP veteran R&D engineer and manager Frank Cloutier. The team is a small group of engineers working for Future Vehicle Technologies (FVT) a  Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada based R&D company. This post is about Frank and FTV, it ends with an in-depth, exclusive Innovational Musings interview with Frank Cloutier.

Frank said from the beginning that he wanted the eVaro to be "as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside."

Mr. Cloutier was recently honored by OSU with a 2010 Weatherford Award. “The Weatherford Awards are a celebration of some of Oregon’s most innovative business owners and visionaries. The award recipients have been selected for their commitment to serving Oregonians and for their innovations that have had a sustaining social and/or economic impact. The awards are named after OSU’s Weatherford Hall, which houses the largest residential entrepreneurship program in the country.”

As part of the award events Cloutier gave a talk titled, “How to start up not just a company—but an entire new industry … again.” He presented on April 9 as part of the OSU Innovator in Residence Lecture SeriesThe wide ranging talk presented Frank’s views and stories about innovation, inventions and business models he participated in during his thirty-two years at HP and how those lessons inform his work at FVT.

OSU asked. “What does Hewlett-Packard’s “father of inkjet technology” do after he’s made dot matrix printers obsolete, brought to market computers as small as notebooks – or the palm of your hand – and helped create HP’s Halo videoconferencing?

If he’s innovator Frank Cloutier, he develops a high-performance sports car that gets the equivalent of up to 325 miles per gallon – with almost no emissions. The car is called eVaro, which Popular Mechanics calls one of the top nine entries in this summer’s  Automotive XPrize Competition.”

The series of scored performance and evaluation events kicks off April 26, 2010 and continues through the end of August 2010.

The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE goal is to inspire a new generation of viable, safe, affordable and super fuel efficient vehicles that people want to buy. $10 million in prizes will be awarded in September 2010 to the teams that win a rigorous stage competition for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe).

Before we talk to Frank here’s a short video that introduces some of the early work at FVT.

The eVaro (electric vehicle with advanced regenerative braking onboard)
The eVaro is FVT’s newest prototype and the next generation in series hybrid development. It is a high performance sports car with outstanding spec’s:

  • Between 122 mpge and 325 mpge
    (miles per gallon equivalent)
  • 100-125 mile range on electricity alone
  • unlimited extended range with onboard FVT gas generator
  • 3 hour re-charge time plug in at home, 1 hour with FVT on board generator

Learn lot’s more at the FVT website…

Now finally we get to talk to the innovator himself. Frank is a modest, soft spoken man who has pursued the Promethean Flame of invention and creation with grace, enthusiasm and humor. He and the smart people he has led and teamed with have helped make a better and more productive world. Now Frank and the FVT team look to win the Automotive X-Prize and make the world cooler and cleaner.

We conducted this April 10, 2010 interview by phone. Instead of just doing a non-visual thirty minute podcast I added some photos for you to see while you listen.  Here’s a list of approximate times and topics covered in this conversation.

01:25 George Parker and the FVT team
02:30 Why Frank joined FVT
04:00 Why the X-Prize is important
05:30 Focus of the Corvallis team
08:00 FVT tech and torque
11:00 Applying HP lessons at FVT
14:30 X-Prize opportunities and advantages
18:30 FVT’s core competencies
22:30 eVaro’s serial hybrid drive system
24:00 Business models and flexible manufacturing

Innovational Musings will continue to follow the FVT team and their pursuit of the X-prize and beyond.

Drive fast, cool and clean…

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