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Hybrid Trucks Take the Hill

hybridtrucksavingsA high-tech truck convoy arrived on Capitol Hill this week, showcasing the fuel-saving hybrid technology in the nation’s biggest vehicles. Duke University also unveiled its new study that finds hybrids provide the U.S. with a strategic opportunity in competitiveness, green jobs and reduced pollution.

The first Hybrid Day On the Hill, organized by clean transportation group CALSTART and its Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), warns that hybrid trucks need help to succeed and retain the technology lead American firms now have. The event featured 17 medium- and heavy-duty hybrids from five major truck makers and six driveline suppliers including ArvinMeritor, Azure Dynamics, Bosch Rexroth, Daimler, Dueco/Odyne,  Eaton, Mack, Peterbilt, Freightliner, Kenworth, Navistar, UPS, and FedEx  Express.

In November, FedEx announced a plan to purchase vehicles that combine Azure Dynamics’ hybrid system with a Ford gasoline engine and chassis and claims to be one of the first to use gasoline hybrid-electric delivery trucks for commercial use, reports CNET News. Peterbilt began offering four hybrid models of commercial trucks in 2008, and UPS is using hybrid trucks with Eaton’s energy-saving Series Hybrid Hydraulic System technology, according to the CNET blog.

The event outlined the benefits of hybrid technology, and provided highlights from a new Duke University study, commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund and CALSTART’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum Incentives Working Group. The report indicates that more than 30 states are home to truck and component manufacturing and development in the clean truck sector, and that the growth of the industry offers solid economic opportunities for the U.S.

The U.S. trucking industry consumes more than 52 billion gallons of fuel each year and accounts for 21 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from transport activities, according to the report. By using hybrid drivetrain technology for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, the industry can improve fuel economy by 20-50 percent with a corresponding decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming pollutants.

According to hybrid truck industry estimates, U.S. production of hybrid commercial trucks is expected to reach 4,850 units in 2010. Under the low (20 percent savings) and high (50 percent savings) scenarios this would translate into an estimated 4 million to 10 million gallons of fuel saved and 47,000 to 116,000 tons of CO2 reduced per year, according to the study.

The study finds that by 2020, if the market produces 60,000 hybrid trucks as projected, these low and high scenarios would translate into an estimated 52 million to 130 million gallons of fuel saved and .6 million to 1.4 million tons of CO2  reduced per year.

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