Major Fleets Unite to Speed Development of Hybrid Work Trucks
– Twenty-one of the biggest mixed fleets in North America are working together to help speed the development of a cost-effective, light-duty work truck that reduces exhaust emissions while improving fuel economy compared to current vehicles. These fleets make up the Light-duty Hybrid Action Group facilitated by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA). They represent a cross-section of work truck users, including utilities (such as American Electric Power and Florida Power and Light Company), state and county transportation departments (like Arlington County, Va., government), and private companies (including Heritage Propane and Titan Propane). Combined, they manage more than 200,000 vehicles across Classes 1–8.ServiceMaster, a franchise service company with brands including TruGreen ChemLawn, Terminix, and Merry Maids, requested that NTEA facilitate a hybrid action group in spring 2006. The NTEA has monitored hybrid initiatives in the work truck and trailer industry since the concept began to determine how the technology might impact its members. As hybrid and alternative-fuel technology have become commercially viable, the association agreed to facilitate the group to further technical knowledge on the subject.“The association’s role in the group is to help participants develop an understanding of current technology so they can make informed decisions about deploying it in their fleets. At the same time, we are working to bring manufacturers, upfitters, end-users, and other organizations together to speed commercially viable technology to market,” said Doyle Sumrall, NTEA director of strategic opportunities.One of the organizations instrumental in providing the NTEA with support and insight in facilitating the Action Group’s initial activities is WestStart-CALSTART’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF). WestStart-CALSTART is a non-profit organization that works with the public and private sectors to develop advanced transportation technologies and fosters companies’ efforts to clean the air, lessen dependence on foreign oil, reduce global warming, and create jobs. It operates HTUF, a user-driven program focused on assisting the commercialization of heavy-duty hybrid technologies. HTUF works to help truck manufacturers and end-users move to pre-production manufacturing levels and deployment based on common specifications. To provide a baseline for the NTEA Light-duty Hybrid Action Group, HTUF leaders have shared the knowledge and protocols the organization has developed over the past five years.The Light-duty Hybrid Action Group is initially focusing on hybrid light-duty vans and pickup trucks that could be incorporated into participants’ individual procurement schedules. They are interested in cost-competitive new vehicles that offer at least the same utility as current models, while providing significant reductions in fuel consumption and operating emissions.The Group will host its fourth meeting Mar. 6, 2007, at The Work Truck Show 2007 and the 43rd Annual NTEA Convention, at the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome in Indianapolis.