GOLDEN, CO - The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is evaluating the performance of 50 hybrid diesel step delivery vans that are on the job delivering packages for the United Parcel Service (UPS), the world's largest package delivery company.

NREL's Fleet Test & Evaluation (FT&E) team is performing a 12-month evaluation of some of these 50 hybrid vans at UPS locations in Dallas and Phoenix. NREL will publish its findings in fall 2008.

The diesel hybrid delivery vans are expected to improve UPS fleet fuel economy and decrease vehicle emissions, while maintaining the same reliability and overall performance as conventional vehicles.

Robert Hall, UPS director of maintenance and engineering, hopes the evaluation will speed-up market acceptance of hybrid diesel systems. "By capturing and publishing vehicle performance data, NREL can help UPS make this type of energy-saving system a standard in the industry," he said.

Eaton Corporation provided the hybrid propulsion systems for both test vehicles, some manufactured by Workhorse Custom Chassis and others by Freightliner Corporation.

The hybrid system employs an Eaton automated transmission, an integrated motor/generator, and advanced lithium ion batteries. The Freightliner model has a Mercedes-Benz MBE 904 four-cylinder diesel engine, while the Workhorse model features an International VT-275 six-cylinder diesel.

The Eaton hybrid system was developed in part under a $7.5 million, 33-month contract from Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Heavy Hybrid Propulsion System program.

The test project is funded by the Funded by the DOE Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity, AVTA.

"Having helped fund the development of the Eaton system, DOE is eager to help test it in real-world applications and share the performance data with other potential users," said AVTA program manager Lee Slezak.

"Our goal is to help develop more efficient advanced vehicle technologies that are widely accepted as being as reliable and cost effective as conventional technologies," Slezak said.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials