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Trucks at Work

Checking out the alternatives

Took some time during this week’s National Truck Equipment Association’s 2013 Work Truck Show to check out some new – and not-so-new – alternative fuel options offered for medium and heavy duty trucks.

The newest technological “gee-wiz” item is Allison Transmission’s H-3000 hybrid transmission [you can read more about it by clicking here.] Now, I placed hybrid propulsion in the “alternative fuel” category because the technology does, after all, allow a truck to be partially operated on electricity – thus reducing, and in some cases eliminating, diesel fuel consumption.

Allison also put together a special “test bus” so folks could ride along and literally “see” how the technology works to cut diesel fuel use in real-world operation:

Then there’s a “bi-fuel” system developed by Impco Automotive that allows trucks to operate on both gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG). Isuzu Commercial Truck of America is testing this system out right now on its medium-duty NPR cabover chassis, so don’t be surprised if you see it offered as an option for the 2014 model year. [You can also check out some of the other Isuzu models on diplay at the 2013 Work Truck Show by clicking here.]

Then there’s the ongoing push to get fleets to explore switching to propane. One of the leaders in that particular segment of the alternative fuel world is Roush CleanTech, and we caught up with Todd Mouw, VP-sales and marketing, so he could give us an overview of the differences between a gasoline-powered medium-duty truck and one fired by propane.

Of course, many OEMs are trying to ensure that fleets thinking about switching to a non-diesel or gasoline powered truck get to pick from a range of options. For example take Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC): they are offering customers CNG and propane power options for their products:

Just goes to show there is certainly no dearth of alternative fuel choices for fleets out there. The trick, of course, is finding one that not only bets fits its operational footprint, but also proves to be a money-saver in the near to long term, too.


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