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Heavy hybrids ahead

Heavy hybrids ahead

While many Americans hear “hybrid” and think “Toyota Prius,” a complement of full-blown hybrid trucks will take center stage next week at the 7th annual Hybrid Truck Users Forum

While many Americans hear “hybrid” and think “Toyota Prius,” a complement of full-blown hybrid trucks will take center stage next week at the 7th annual Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) at the Qwest Field Event Center in Seattle. The forum aims to bring fleets and suppliers together to discuss hybrid power technology for trucking. And a highlight of the forum will be a “Ride and Drive” event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, in Qwest Field's north parking lot.

The meeting, hosted by Seattle-based Paccar—parent of both Kenworth and Peterbilt—will showcase medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks powered by hybrid diesel-electric systems produced by several OEMs.

Kenworth has announced it will show four medium-duty diesel-electric hybrid trucks at the forum-- a P&D, utility service and municipal aerial trucks and a straight truck chassis. All four KWs are equipped with a Paccar PX-6 diesel rated 240 hp and 560 ft-lb of torque. The OEM noted that primary components of its medium-duty hybrids include an automated transmission with an integral motor/generator unit; frame-mounted, 340-volt battery pack; and a dedicated power management system.

"Hybrid technology looks very promising in the commercial vehicle market," said Bob Christensen, Kenworth gm & Paccar vp. "Kenworth recently started deliveries of its medium duty diesel-electric truck, which is targeted for pickup and delivery operations, municipal fleets and utilities. The hybrid will go into full production in 2008." Paccar recently announced entering entered into an agreement with Eaton Corp. to jointly develop proprietary hybrid technology for heavy-duty commercial vehicles in North America. According to the OEM, the “innovative new products will be introduced in Kenworth Class 8 trucks in the North American market, targeted for initial production by the end of 2009.”

Kenworth stated that its goal for its new medium-duty hybrid is to enhance fuel economy by up to 30% in start-and-stop applications. “Above 30 mph, the Kenworth hybrid operates like a standard diesel vehicle with all power coming from the engine during steady driving conditions,” said the OEM. “Below 30 mph, it uses a combination of diesel and electricity with the system automatically switching between the two modes of operation. Electricity generated through regenerative braking is stored and used for acceleration, assisting the diesel engine.”

Mack Trucks has announced that United States Air Force will display Mack’s fuel-saving hybrid technology at the Hybrid Truck User Forum. A Mack Granite dump truck (pictured), built for the Air Force’s Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) and currently stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, will be at the HTUF exhibition and Ride and Drive.

“Hybrid systems can have a major impact on reducing the more than 38 billion gallons of diesel fuel the U.S. trucking industry consumes every year,” said Paul L. Vikner, president & CEO of Mack. “Mack’s research indicates that hybrid electric systems in heavy-duty trucks could save as much as 35% of the fuel consumed by conventionally powered vehicles. Thanks to the support of the Air Force and Congress, we’ve already met many of the challenges involved in turning the hybrid concept into a reality in heavy-duty trucks,” he added.

According to Mack, its hybrid-electric powertrain features an integrated starter, alternator and motor-- referred to collectively as an electric machine. The electric machine assists the Granite’s Mack MP7 diesel in providing torque to the wheels and regenerates energy during braking. This energy, stored in ultracapacitors, is then used in place of diesel fuel. Mack said this technology “provides the maximum fuel savings on routes with frequent braking and accelerations, particularly refuse collection and urban delivery, as well as certain construction applications.”

For more information on the forum and Ride and Drive, visit the Hybrid Truck Users Forum.

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