Hybrids happening

It seems only yesterday the only hybrid on any highway was a Toyota Prius or two. Now around where I live, you can see phalanxes of Priuses on any given day. On top of that, it seems everyone who makes anything that helps drive a commercial vehicle has got a hybrid offering of somes sort on the road or at least in the works.

This was driven home to me (no pun intended, honestly) recently when I got to witness an Allison Transmission "ride and drive" outside their headquarters in Indianapolis. It was not an elaborate event, at least not compared to some others held a few years back by this maker of automatic transmissions for commercial vehicles, but it was certainly geared to impressing potential customers.

There was an on-road and an off-road course so customers could experience how the automatics are designed to deliver "smooth power" no matter what the truck is doing-- whether that be rolling in traffic or tackling a slope at a construction site.

Getting back to hybrids, in a chat with Steve Spurlin, recently named executive director of 3000/4000 Series & application engineering for the manufacturer, I learned that Allison is well along in fielding a full-blown hybrid electric drive system for transit buses, dubbed Ev Drive.

According to Allison, its Ev Drive can significantly enhance the performance of transit buses, suburban

coaches and articulated buses running in a variety of applications - whether stop-and-go city

traffic, operating over the road or in some combination of the two.

If hybrids can be found now in passenger cars, pickup trucks, medium-duty trucks and transit buses, how much longer till they find their way into heavy-duty rigs? Don't better on it not happening sooner than later.