FedEx Express is putting 20 hybrid delivery trucks into operation over the next four to five months in an effort to simultaneously reduce vehicle pollution and boost fuel efficiency.
David Bronczek, president of FedEx Express, said the fleet's new OptiFleet E700 diesel-electric hybrid truck not only generates 90% fewer particulate emissions and 75% fewer smog-producing emissions than the company's diesel-powered W700 vehicle, but also shows a 50% improvement in fuel economy.
Developed by Eaton Corp., the hybrid drive unit, equipped with an AutoClutch motor/generator, manages the switch from the diesel engine to the electric motor depending on the vehicle's operations mode.
The switch from diesel to electric takes 12 seconds, notes Sid Gooch, maintenance director for FedEx Express.
Power steering is not currently available when the truck is in electric mode, although this could change in future models.
Based on how the trucks perform under continuous commercial operation, FedEx Express could begin replacing its delivery fleet of 30,000 trucks with hybrids as early as the fall of 2004, Bronczek said.
“If these trucks prove themselves, we could start designating hybrids as our replacement vehicle over the next 10 years for both our U.S. and Canadian fleet,” he added.