International enters line production of hybrid commercial trucks

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International Truck and Engine Corp. announced Friday, Nov. 9, that it is the first company to enter line production of hybrid commercial trucks. International says it is producing the DuraStar Hybrid, a diesel hybrid-electric medium-duty truck that provides customers with improved fuel efficiency and reduced engine emissions.

“We believe that hybrid technology is an important development for the commercial transportation sector,” says Daniel C. Ustian, president and chief executive officer of Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar International Corp. “Increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions for the nation’s commercial trucks results in significant benefits for all of us. We strive to be the leader in developing energy-efficient transportation solutions in the commercial truck, commercial bus and school bus industries.”

According to the truck maker, the DuraStar Hybrid diesel hybrid-electric truck can provide fuel savings from 30 to 40 percent on standard in-city pickup and delivery applications. International says the fuel efficiency can increase to more than 60 percent in utility-type applications when the engine can be shut off, but electric power still operates the vehicle; diesel emissions are eliminated when the hybrid truck operates equipment — like overhead utility booms — solely on the truck’s battery power, instead of allowing the engine to idle.

“In our continued quest to be the first to market with new truck technologies, we are taking the next major step in bringing a medium-duty diesel hybrid-electric vehicle into the marketplace,” says Dee Kapur, International’s truck group president. “The hybrid combination of the diesel engine and electric battery provides a number of advantages for many truck customers.”

In 2006, International built and delivered 24 developmental hybrid units to 14 utility companies across North America. “These units are now successfully operating, giving us confidence in the quality and reliability of our new hybrid-electric product,” says Jim Williams, International’s director of sales and distribution of new products.

As part of the development process, International says it teamed with the Hybrid Truck Users Forum, which is a consortium of utility industry customers, Eaton Corp., the U.S. federal government and the Weststart/Calstart organization. “This was necessary to assist us with the cost of bringing this new technology to market,” Williams says. “It also has given us the direct customer feedback and support that is required to make the program a success. The prototype phase is done — International is now building hybrid trucks.”

The Hybrid Truck Users Forum estimates that nearly 1,000 gallons of fuel can be saved annually on utility trucks. With almost 100,000 new medium-duty commercial trucks expected to be sold in 2007, even if a portion of those trucks sold are International’s hybrid trucks, the overall fuel savings could be substantial, the truck maker says.

For more information on International hybrids, go to www.internationaltrucks.com.