Field Test of Hybrid Commercial Trucks to Commence Year-End
— WestStart’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) has sponsored a field test truck program that is slated to begin by year’s end. The hybrid commercialization project — which brings together truck fleet users, truck makers, technology companies, and the U.S. military — will field test 24 utility trucks with an integrated hybrid powertrain solution jointly developed by International and Eaton Corporation.The study was designed to anticipate how trucks in the field test will be used on a larger scale and, thus, can be considered a sneak preview of some of the benefits the utility industry can expect to see. Beyond the reduction in fuel use, emissions, and service intervals, other factors are strengthening the case for diesel-electric hybrid technology. For example, Congress recently passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that provides tax credits for purchases of medium- and heavy-duty hybrid vehicles. The tax benefits range from $1,500 to $12,000, depending on the vehicle weight and increase in fuel economy relative to a comparable non-hybrid vehicle. Based on these factors, the utility trucks used in the field test likely would qualify for the maximum tax credit of $12,000.International will equip each hybrid truck, along with an additional baseline non-hybrid vehicle, with its new International Aware Vehicle Intelligence system. This will send continuous information to field test participants to measure the performance of the hybrid test fleet against a conventional vehicle being used in the same application and location. This data will give fleet owners specific information on performance and savings to help them fully understand the impact of hybrid-electric vehicles in their fleet.WestStart will administer the field test program through the support of the U.S Army’s National Automotive Center, the Army’s official link to working with commercial and academic partners. The center’s director, Dennis J. Wend, believes diesel-electric hybrid technology built on a commercial truck platform will benefit utilities and other commercial customers and can be transferred rapidly to military applications.