Eaton & International Will Build Medium-Duty Hybrid Trucks
Utility and state truck fleets working together in WestStart’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) program have selected the supplier team of Eaton Corporation and International Truck and Engine Corporation to build more than 20 advanced, pre-production hybrid-electric work trucks for national deployment and assessment.
The trucks promise to improve fuel economy by 40-60 percent, provide engine-off work site operation, reduce maintenance costs and further cut emissions from this class of truck. Coupled to that, the trucks offer a “dual use” benefit that supports both commercial truck needs and emerging military needs for efficient drivelines.
The deployment represents the largest effort to date in the U.S. and shows the growing momentum toward advanced, fuel-saving hybrid technology in medium and heavy-duty work trucks. The selection announcement comes during the national meeting of HTUF in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The main fleets committed to the deployment purchase beyond Florida Power & Light Company include: Alabama Power; American Electric Power; Baltimore Gas & Electric; Duke Energy; Entergy; Georgia Power; Hydro Quebec; Missouri Department of Transportation; Pacific Gas & Electric Company; Pepco; Southern California Edison; and TXU Electric Delivery.
“This project takes hybrid truck systems to the next level of commercialization,” said John Boesel, President and CEO of WestStart-CALSTART, which operates the Hybrid Truck Users Forum program in a partnership with the U.S. Army’s National Automotive Center (NAC). “These are not prototype trucks. They are the early production versions of what we expect will be commercially available trucks in the next two to four years.”
The national Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) is a joint program between WestStart-CALSTART and the NAC to speed the commercialization of hybrid drivelines that could be used in both military and commercial vehicles. The HTUF program enjoys the participation of over 50 fleets representing roughly one million trucks. HTUF has worked with fleets and suppliers to identify the best, first market segments for hybrid trucks and has organized fleet Working Groups around those applications. The best uses are generally for urban work trucks, especially those with heavy stop-and-go or urban driving, and also those with high engine idling times.
HTUF’s Utility Working Group developed performance specifications for a hybrid “bucket” or trouble service truck, including a 50 percent increase in fuel economy, reliability equal to today, the ability to perform repair work with the engine shut down and the ability to generate electricity for emergency and other use. Twelve core fleets committed to purchase pre-production trucks that met these requirements. A nationwide request for proposals was sent to truck makers and suppliers, leading to a detailed selection process of the finalists that ended with the selection of the Eaton and International team.
“These trucks make sense because the users themselves developed the requirements,” said George Survant, director of fleet services for Florida Power and Light Company and chair of the HTUF Utility Working Group. “We spent considerable time jointly assessing what kind of performance, fuel economy gains and new capabilities will make a business case for our operations. If these trucks now prove out these capabilities and costs, we fleets are prepared to start buying them in the coming years as our replacement vehicle.”
HTUF is a process to speed commercialization, not a research program. Therefore, participating fleets will pay for the base trucks and agree to place them into operation for assessment. Fleets themselves will pay more than $3.5-million; HTUF will assist them by providing additional funding to help buy-down the cost of the advanced drivelines. Unlike development programs, this is a pre-production deployment of next generation trucks that will be produced on International’s assembly line.