The use of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) is increasing dramatically across the world, far exceeding sales forecasts. In Europe, for example, Fed-Ex Express has announced plans to introduce 10 new hybrid-electric/diesel vehicles to its fleet. FedEx currently runs hybrid vehicles in the U.S., Canada and Japan.
The new hybrids will be made by Iveco, and trials will take place near the OEM's site in Turin, Italy. FedEx expects the vehicles to perform with increased fuel efficiency and decreased emissions, making them ideal for city and urban environments.
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 is applied, minimizing strain on the engine. When the vehicle stops at a red light, the engine can be turned off and operated via the 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.