MD hybrid systems move to production

Fleets can soon begin taking delivery of medium-duty trucks with diesel-electric hybrid power systems, according to Eaton Corp. Announcing the first commercial availability of its diesel-electric system, the component manufacturer says it expects hybrid-powered chassis from International Truck and Engine Corp., Kenworth Truck Co., Peterbilt Motors and Freightliner Corp. to make their way into fleet

Fleets can soon begin taking delivery of medium-duty trucks with diesel-electric hybrid power systems, according to Eaton Corp. Announcing the first commercial availability of its diesel-electric system, the component manufacturer says it expects hybrid-powered chassis from International Truck and Engine Corp., Kenworth Truck Co., Peterbilt Motors and Freightliner Corp. to make their way into fleet service early next year.

“Eaton formed this business unit almost seven years ago to provide a cleaner and more fuel-efficient future for the world's commercial vehicle fleet,” says James E. Sweetnam, Eaton senior vp & president-Truck Group. “Now, we're poised to fulfill that goal with the help of our forward-looking OEM and fleet partners that share our vision.”

According to Eaton, more than 220 hybrid-powered vehicles using its systems have been produced to date for testing and evaluation. Applications have included package-delivery vans, medium-duty delivery trucks, beverage haulers, city buses and utility repair trucks.

Kevin Beaty, manager of Eaton's Hybrid Power Systems business unit, says the company plans to produce several hundred diesel-electric systems by the end of 2007. Eaton then plans to ramp up production capacity over the next three years as customer demand grows. With that growth should come economies of scale and lower initial costs, according to Beaty.

“Financial incentives at the local, state and national level will help encourage early adoption,” says Beaty. The company also anticipates a significant volume of government-agency purchases of hybrid-powered trucks for their own fleet operations, according to Beaty, who notes that many of these same government agencies are also offering the purchase incentives.

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