The U.S. Army's National Automotive Center (NAC) has provided California-based consortium WestStart-Calstart with a $4.4-million contract to help develop a heavy-duty hybrid truck and dual-use technology for the military.
Eventually, the technology is expected to be available for the commercial vehicle market.
In the next six months funds from the NAC contract will be used to help buy-down the cost of pre-production hybrid electric work trucks that will be deployed and tested by commercial fleets nationwide, the group said.
As with the passenger cars available for sale today, the consortium said hybrid technology could significantly improve fuel economy and reduce harmful emissions from the medium- and heavy-duty trucks. As there are more than 10 different leading U.S. manufacturers of heavy-duty hybrid propulsion systems, WestStart-Calstart believes it's an area that can be dominated by American firms.
"To have a strong military truck program, we need a strong U.S. commercial technology base," said John Boesel, the consortium's president & CEO of WestStart-Calstart.
As a result, his group has formed the national Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) with the NAC to facilitate the commercialization of hybrid drivelines that would be used in both military and commercial vehicles. Currently, over 50 fleets representing some one million trucks are members of the HTUF program.