Market for hybrid trucks, buses surging

Transit buses have long been an important platform for testing new drivetrains in the heavy-duty vehicle market, but within the past couple of years, manufacturers have increased development of hybrid electric and hydraulic hybrid drivetrains for the medium- and heavy-duty truck segments.

These hybrid vehicles promise a reduction in fuel consumption between 5% and 50% depending on design, making hybrid trucks more and more attractive for fleet managers. According to a new report from Pike Research, the global market for hybrid medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses will increase from 9,000 vehicles sold in 2010 to more than 100,000 vehicles in 2015. During this five-year period, the clean-tech market intelligence firm forecasts that a total of nearly 300,000 hybrid trucks will be sold worldwide.

“Fleet managers are actively seeking tools to insulate themselves from growing fuel costs and increasingly stringent emissions regulations,” said senior analyst Dave Hurst, “but at the same time they do not want to compromise on vehicle requirements. Many new hybrid truck designs introduced in the next few years hold strong potential to strike a balance between efficiency, cost, and performance.”

While North America is currently the leading region for hybrid trucks, Asia Pacific will take the lead in 2011, driven by growth in both Japan and China, said Hurst. Pike Research forecasts that the United States will remain the largest singular market for hybrid trucks and buses between now and 2015, followed closely by China.

Pike Research's analysis further indicates both hybrid and battery electric vehicles have good potential for the medium- and heavy-duty truck classes. Fleets that need to cover expansive territory while carrying heavy-duty loads will likely adopt hybrid technology to help contain battery costs. On the other hand, fleets that have a set delivery or commuter route will likely gravitate toward battery electric technology. Hurst does not expect to see significant numbers in the plug-in hybrid truck category, though the greatest source of interest in plug-in hybrid trucks will be from utility companies.

An Executive Summary of the study Hybrid Trucks and Buses is available for free download on the firm's website. For more information, visit www.pikeresearch.com.

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