The use of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) is increasing dramatically across the world, far exceeding sales forecasts. In Europe, for example, FedEx Express has announced plans to introduce 10 new hybrid-electric/diesel vehicles to its fleet.
FedEx currently offers hybrid vehicles in the U.S., Canada, and Japan, but these will be the company’s first hybrids on sale in Europe. Iveco will manufacture the vans, and the trials will take place near their site in Turin, Italy.
“With nearly 100 hybrid-electric/diesel vehicles already on the road, knowledge of local regulations and a commitment to the development of alternative technology solutions, FedEx is the perfect company to operate these vehicles,” said Robert Elliott, president, FedEx Express-Europe, Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, and Africa.
“FedEx is making smart strategic investments in projects that will help drive the commercial development of new technologies for industry. We expect these hybrid-electric vehicles to perform with increased fuel efficiency and decreased emissions, making them ideal for city and urban environments,” Elliott said.
The FedEx announcement is a result of a thriving market for hybrids around the world, especially in Europe, where the United Kingdom has become one of the top five global HEV markets. According to Frost & Sullivan’s “World Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Market,” report, HEV sales grew about 23% in developed countries such as the U.S., U.K. and Japan in 2006.
HEVs have become popular because they are able to store significant amounts of energy through a regenerative braking mechanism that stores energy in the battery whenever the brake pedal is applied, minimizing engine strain. When the vehicle stops at a red light, the engine can be turned off and operated on electric motor and battery. Combining the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors, HEVs can improve fuel economy, power, and performance with low greenhouse emissions.
“One of the advantages of using HEVs is improved fuel economy,” explains Frost & Sullivan analyst Suba Swaminathan. “Hybrids require much less fuel than conventional vehicles, offering greater savings on fuel costs.
“Another advantage is improved efficiency,” Swaminathan said. “In fact, they offer more mileage compared with conventional vehicles, which makes HEVs require minimal gas. They are environment friendly; hybrids have much lesser greenhouse gas emissions, and are therefore capable of reducing the smog-forming pollutants in the atmosphere. Finally, many governments across different countries promote HEVs by offering tax credits and incentives that make HEVs affordable.”