EPA unveils hydraulic hybrid diesel delivery truck

The U S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today unveiled the first-ever series hydraulic hybrid diesel urban delivery vehicle, which will provide dramatic improvements in fuel economy and in emission reductions.


The development of the hydraulic hybrid is the result of a partnership between the EPA, U S Army, UPS, International Truck and Engine Corporation and Eaton Corporation.

The EPA and UPS plan to evaluate the vehicle’s fuel economy performance and emissions during a series of tests in 2006. In laboratory testing, the EPA’s patented hydraulic hybrid diesel technology achieved a 60 to 70 percent improvement in fuel economy and more than a 40 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, compared to a conventional UPS vehicle.

“EPA and our partners are not just delivering packages with this UPS truck – we are delivering environmental benefits to the American people,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “President Bush is moving technology breakthroughs from the labs to the streets. We are doing what is good for our environment, good for our economy, and good for our nation’s energy security.”

The EPA cited laboratory tests showing that the technology has the potential to dramatically improve the fuel economy of urban vehicles used in applications such as package delivery, shuttle and transit buses and refuse pick-up.

The EPA estimated that when manufactured in high volume, the added costs of the hybrid components could be recouped in less than three years through lower fuel and brake maintenance costs.

In the series hydraulic hybrid diesel, a high-efficiency diesel engine is combined with a unique hydraulic propulsion system, replacing the conventional drivetrain and transmission. The vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in hybrid electric vehicles. Fuel economy is increased in three ways: vehicle braking energy is recovered that normally is wasted; the engine is operated more efficiently; and the engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating.

The diesel hydraulic hybrid truck is potentially eligible to qualify for a tax credit that is up to 40 percent of the incremental cost of the vehicle under a provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

UPS, International and Eaton have been working with the EPA and the U.S. Army’s NationalAutomotive Center on the hydraulic technology for several years.

”The hydraulic hybrid technology is quite promising and we’re eager to see how the vehicle performs in a real-world setting,” said John Beystehner, chief operating officer of UPS. “We have led our industry in testing alternative fuel vehicles because fuel conservation is critical to our business. We believe the impact of this initiative will go far beyond our industry.”

UPS will test the hydraulic hybrid for the next several months. It will be used on a city route in the Detroit area, making daily deliveries to homes and businesses. Previously, UPS partnered with the EPA on its hydrogen fuel cell delivery vehicles, which have been part of the company’s fleet since 2003.

"The diesel hydraulic hybrid concept has the potential to offer our truck customers near zero emissions with dramatic improvements in fuel economy,” said Dee Kapur, International president - Truck Group.

International has a history of close technical cooperation with the EPA Advanced Technology Division. In 2004, International, under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, began work on Clean Diesel Combustion technology to dramatically lower emissions inside the combustion chamber, minimizing the need for aftertreatment.

Eaton has been working with the EPA since October 2001 under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement involving hydraulic hybrid systems. As part of the company’s role in designing and developing hybrid technologies, Eaton engineers have been co-located at EPA’s Ann Arbor, Mich. facility. Eaton is also working on a number of other hybrid vehicle initiatives with UPS, International and others.

“Eaton sees the series hybrid as a natural and exciting progression in the development of hydraulic hybrid systems,” said Craig Arnold, Eaton senior vice president and president – Fluid Power Group. “We have developed a parallel hybrid system called the Eaton Hydraulic Launch AssistÔ (HLA®) system that we plan to offer commercially starting in 2007. We believe this product will provide our customers with the confidence to consider the series hybrid when it is commercialized.”

“Eaton continues to develop a number of hybrid hydraulic and hybrid electric vehicle technologies with wide-ranging customer applications,” Arnold said. “We are committed to working with the EPA , our industries and our customers to create a cleaner, brighter future.”

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