Hybrids ahead!

It's never easy to argue with the adage that if you want something done, do it yourself. Even better, gather up a bunch of like-minded folks and get the thing done all the quicker.

It's never easy to argue with the adage that if you want something done, do it yourself. Even better, gather up a bunch of like-minded folks and get the thing done all the quicker.

That's the thinking behind the Light-Duty Hybrid Action Group, a work-truck user group being facilitated by the National Truck Equipment Assn. (NTEA), whose purpose is to speed the development of cost-effective work trucks deploying hybrid technology to cut exhaust emissions while boosting fuel economy.

The group consists of managers drawn from 21 of the biggest mixed fleets in North America. According to NTEA, these fleets represent a cross-section of work truck users, including utilities, state and county transportation departments and private companies. Combined, they manage more than 200,000 Class 1-8 commercial vehicles.

“Many of the participating organizations already have some hybrid vehicles in their fleets, including passenger cars and utility line trucks,” points out Doyle Sumrall, NTEA director of strategic opportunities. “They are all interested in replacing some of their gasoline or diesel work trucks with hybrid models for a number of reasons, including reducing pollution and improving their fuel consumption profile.

“The Action Group has also discussed potential side benefits of incorporating the new technology, including a reduction or elimination of idling, the ability to perform a work activity without the engine running and a reduction in brake maintenance,” he adds.

ServiceMaster, a franchise service firm known for such brands as TruGreen, ChemLawn and Terminix, got the ball rolling by requesting that NTEA facilitate a hybrid action group last spring.

“The Association's role in the Group is to help participants develop an understanding of current technology so they can make informed decisions about deploying it in their fleets,” Sumrall says. “At the same time, we are working to bring manufacturers, upfitters, end-users and other organizations together to speed commercially viable technology to market.”

The Light-duty Hybrid Action Group is initially zeroing in on hybrid light-duty vans and pickup trucks that could be included in participants' individual procurement schedules.

The Action Group will host its fourth meeting on March 6, 2007, at The Work Truck Show and 43rd Annual NTEA Convention, at the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

Already, according to Sumrall, input from the group led NTEA to schedule several other hybrid and alternative fuel “awareness-building activities to bring together all interested parties” at The Work Truck Show.

A “Hybrid Truck and Alternative Fuels Summit” will kick things off on March 6, running from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. Industry experts will speak on important considerations for alternative fuel vehicle deployment and vehicle hybridization.

In addition, International Truck and Engine Corp. will host a networking reception following the Summit that will showcase its latest hybrid offering.

Attendees of The Work Truck Show will also be able to take part in a Hybrid Ride-and-Drive event on March 7 and 8 that will show off vehicles offering the highest level of technological advancement in hybrid technology or alternative fuel applications.

But wait, there's more: A “Stepping into the Future” pavilion will let show attendees view the latest hybrid or alternative fuel technology initiatives and products right on the show floor.

For more information about the hybrid programs and other sessions at The Work Truck Show and NTEA Convention, go to www.ntea.com or call 800-441-NTEA.

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