Gasoline-electric Hybrid Technology Comes to Heavy Trucks

There's huge potential for hybrid technology to improve the emissions and gas mileage of heavy trucks.

Content Tools

When it comes to hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, most people may think of the Toyota Prius and its competitors, but a growing stable of heavy trucks are now featuring hybrid technology. At last week's Hybrid Truck Users Forum in South Bend, Ind., hybrid trucks from a wide range of manufacturers were on display, including the Kenworth T370 Hybrid, a Class 7 diesel-electric hybrid tractor designed for local-haul applications, including beverage, freight and grocery distribution. Introduced in late September, the hybrid tractor has a motor/generator integrated into its transmission, powered by a 340-volt lithium-ion battery pack. Its power management system allows the tractor to operate in three modes: electric-only, diesel-only and combined electric and diesel power. The Kenworth Truck Co

., a division of PACCAR Inc., expects the hybrid tractor to improve fuel economy by up to 25 percent in local-haul applications. Kenworth also displayed the T270 Hybrid, a Class 6 tractor that it launched in 2007.

Peterbilt Motors Co., another division of PACCAR, arrived in South Bend with three hybrid-electric models: a delivery van, a utility truck and a municipal dump truck. Using a hybrid drive developed by Eaton Corp., the van and dump truck both achieve a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy, while the utility truck can avoid idling by drawing on its battery pack for power, potentially cutting its fuel consumption in half. Peterbilt also displayed a refuse truck that uses a hydraulic system to capture energy during braking and to help launch and accelerate the vehicle, for a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy. In addition, Freightliner Trucks displayed its Business Class M2e Hybrid, which also features an Eaton hybrid system. The company is offering a $5,000 incentive on the vehicle through mid-December. In addition, Dueco, Inc. displayed two plug-in hybrid electric utility trucks, featuring a system developed by Odyne Corp. Other hybrid vehicles that were on display include a variety of hybrid trucks and buses from Azure Dynamics Inc., refuse trucks from Bosch Rexroth AG, delivery and utility trucks from Eaton, and a variety of trucks from Navistar. 

Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy.