– At a recent press conference at the Great American Trucking Show, Freightliner LLC President and CEO Chris Patterson introduced a proof-of-concept prototype utility truck and discussed the company’s plans to bring medium-duty hybrid vehicles to the market. The prototype vehicle on display, a Class 7 Business Class M2 106, is a full-parallel hybrid, similar to hybrid-electric cars, with regenerative braking that recharges the batteries and electric launch functionality. It has an integrated electric motor in line with the engine and transmission, enabling operation with electric or diesel power, either separately or in combination. The truck launches with electric power and the diesel engine provides additional torque as required.The prototype is a Business Class M2 106 model with a 33,000-lb. GVWR chassis powered by a 230-horsepower MBE 900 engine that offers 660-lb. ft. of torque. By incorporating a 44-kilowatt, 59-horsepower electric motor, the engine can achieve 290 horsepower and 860 lb. ft. torque when the electric and diesel motors are paired. Simulations and testing have shown significant fuel-economy improvements over conventional diesel engines and promises to greatly reduce vehicle operating costs for customers.Of special interest to utility customers, the prototype vehicle on display integrates the hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) system with hydraulics for electric power takeoff (ePTO) operation. On a jobsite, the engine remains off for the majority of the operation with the hydraulics being run by batteries. When the batteries get low, the engine automatically turns on to recharge them. This takes approximately five minutes and, when the batteries are fully recharged, the engine automatically turns itself off. Work is not interrupted during this process.Pending final results of tests currently underway with this proof-of-concept vehicle, Freightliner LLC is considering implementing the hybrid system in a variety of medium-duty trucking segments, including beverage, school bus, and pick-up and delivery applications.Freightliner LLC is collaborating with the hybrid business unit of Eaton Corp. on this effort. Eaton Corp. is a diversified industrial manufacturer with four major business segments, including development of intelligent drivetrain systems for safety and fuel economy.