Eaton Corporation (NYSE:ETN) announced its truck and electrical businesses will support a $45.4 million grant to produce plug-in hybrid electric power systems for 378 vehicles, the nation’s largest commercial hybrid deployment to date. The funding is part of the recently announced $2.4 billion in grants by the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Eaton will work with grant recipient South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and other affiliates, including the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI), Altec Industries, Compact Power Inc., Ford Motor Company and Southern California Edison, in the deployment of plug-in hybrid electric commercial vehicles to more than 50 utility and municipal fleets nationwide. Eaton will also provide infrastructure for the electrical charging of these vehicles.
“This funding is an important milestone in the advancement of plug-in hybrid vehicles, and Eaton is pleased to be a recipient,” said Alexander M. Cutler, Eaton chairman and chief executive officer. “By providing our sustainable, energy-saving technologies to power the vehicles as well as the electrical infrastructure support to help keep them running, we believe we can provide Eaton customers with the technology they need to move plug-in hybrids to the next level.”
The development and deployment of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and accompanying charging infrastructure will take place over 18 months. Vehicles will be evaluated over a two-year period.
“The production and demonstration of this fleet of vehicles is a significant step in driving PHEV technology beyond the personal transportation platform to a daily work application,” said Mark Duvall, director of Electric Transportation at EPRI. “This project leverages Eaton's current hybrid electric system and builds upon nearly three years of ongoing work by Eaton and EPRI to develop PHEV technology for commercial vehicles."
In the utility truck application, the plug-in hybrids will be based on the Ford F550 chassis and will have a total range of at least 300 miles. The system will provide fuel economy improvement of up to 70 percent when compared to a standard utility vehicle, with similar reductions in emissions and noise. The entire system can be recharged by plugging it into a standard 120- or 240-volt electrical outlet. In addition, the trucks will be capable of powering auxiliary equipment and tools while stopped at a work site.
An important element in the adoption of these vehicles is the electrical infrastructure for plug-in charging. Eaton will work with EPRI to develop plug-in station technology for use by utilities and other customers across the country.
Companies such as FedEx, UPS, Coca-Cola Enterprises, PepsiCo and Wal-Mart are using delivery vehicles with Eaton hybrid systems. Work trucks with Eaton hybrid power are also in service at dozens of utility and telecom systems across North America, including Pepco, American Electric Power, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and Florida Power and Light. Benefits of the existing Eaton system include fuel economy improvement ranging from 30 to 70 percent, with similar percentages in emission reductions, extended brake life, and idle time reductions of up to 87 percent during work site operations.