UPS tests hydraulic hybrid truck

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A partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency, UPS, Eaton Corp. and other companies has produced what the EPA calls the “most fuel-efficient and cost-effective delivery vehicle in the world.” The EPA described the truck as the first of its kind to use the agency-patented hydraulic hybrid technology designed to increase fuel efficiency by 60 to 70 percent in urban driving while lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to UPS conventional diesel delivery trucks.

The technology could improve fuel economy not only for delivery trucks, but also for shuttle and transit buses and refuse pickup. Using these trucks could save more than a thousand gallons of fuel annually, with a net savings of more than $50,000 over the vehicle’s lifetime. The agency estimates upfront costs for the hybrid components could be recouped in less than three years for a delivery vehicle.

The truck uses a hydraulic hybrid powertrain and a hydraulic hybrid propulsion system integrated with the drive axle. Hydraulic motors and hydraulic tanks are used to store energy instead of the electric motors and batteries used in other electric hybrid vehicles. Energy is saved when the brakes are applied and reused to help accelerate.

The partnership produced the technology through the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement established by Congress. Other project partners are International Truck and Engine Corp., U.S. Army National Automotive Center and Morgan-Olson. The truck is scheduled for a tour of EPA offices before being put to use delivering UPS packages in Michigan later this summer.