FedEx Express, announced on October 20 that it has placed into service 10 low-emission, hybrid electric delivery vehicles in New York City just in time for its holiday peak season. The New York launch is a joint initiative with Environmental Defense, Eaton Corporation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).The FedEx OptiFleet E700 hybrid electric vehicles began delivering packages on routes in the New York metropolitan area following an agreement with NYSERDA to demonstrate the viability of lower-emission hybrid powertrains in heavy-duty vehicles. The roll out took place today at a FedEx facility on 48th Street and 12th Avenue in Manhattan. Peter Smith, president of NYSERDA, commended FedEx Express and its project partners for their efforts on behalf of New York City and said the hybrid project "exemplifies the achievements business, non-profits and government can make when they partner to improve our environment." The project began four years ago when Environmental Defense, an organization recognized for its work with industry leaders to create environmental and business innovations, approached FedEx Express about working together to create the next generation delivery vehicle. Cleveland, Ohio-based Eaton Corporation produced the hybrid electric powertrain for the vehicle."Eaton continues to be pleased with the performance — and the potential — of our advanced technology hybrid powertrain system," said Jim Sweetnam, senior vice president and group executive of Eaton's Truck Group. "The system is working well in the FedEx Express trucks in Sacramento, and we look forward to continued success with the New York City roll-out." The FedEx hybrid electric vehicle decreases particulate emissions by 96 percent and travels 57 percent farther on a gallon of fuel, reducing fuel costs by over a third. FedEx is currently taking steps to introduce more of these vehicles into its fleet over time. If 10,000 hybrid electric vehicles were on the road rather than current standard vehicles, substantial reductions in emissions and fuel use would occur annually: The project partners, Environmental Defense, FedEx and Eaton, have worked closely with a number of suppliers to find innovative, cost-effective solutions to bring the production of this vehicle closer to commercialization. Freightliner Custom Chassis was instrumental in supplying the chassis and assembling the 16 vehicles that will be placed into operation in the next few months. Utilimaster, Hitachi and Detroit Diesel each provided key components and worked with project partners to customize their components for the hybrid trucks. Eaton's hybrid-electric powertrain effectively combines a diesel engine and electric motor to drive the vehicle. A computer determines the most efficient combination, depending on current operating conditions and driver demand. A four-cylinder engine replaces the six-cylinder version currently used in the FedEx Express W700 delivery vehicle. The engine size is reduced because of the added power provided by the electric motor. A particulate trap has been added to the truck to further reduce emissions. Batteries capture and store energy during the "regenerative braking" phase of the vehicle's operation, providing a source of stored electric power for the motor during future acceleration. The hybrid electric truck's operating characteristics will remain virtually unchanged from that of a conventionally powered FedEx Express vehicle.