‘Hybrid Day on the Hill’ happens in D.C.

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A high-tech truck convoy arrived on Capitol Hill Thursday, June 11, showcasing the emergence of fuel-saving hybrid technology for the nation’s biggest vehicles and unveiling a new study from Duke University that finds hybrids provide the United States a strategic opportunity in competitiveness, green jobs and reduced pollution.

But the first Hybrid Day On the Hill, organized by clean transportation group CALSTART and its Hybrid Truck Users Forum, also warned that hybrid trucks need help to succeed and retain the technology lead American firms now have.

Hybrid Day on the Hill featured 17 medium- and heavy-duty hybrids from five major truck makers and six driveline suppliers, showcasing the world’s most advanced trucks. During a morning briefing, industry experts – from environmental, military and commercial fleet backgrounds – outlined the status and benefits of hybrid technology, and provided highlights from a new study that identifies the early growth of an American technology edge.

The event was hosted by CALSTART and these HTUF Incentive Working Group companies: ArvinMeritor, Azure Dynamics, Bosch Rexroth, Daimler Trucks, Eaton, Kenworth, Mack, Navistar, Odyne/Dueco and Peterbilt.

A Kenworth pickup-and-delivery hybrid and a Kenworth utility hybrid were part of the event. The T270 Class 6 and T370 Class 7 diesel-electric hybrid trucks are for use in pickup-and-delivery, utility and service applications. “The event on Capitol Hill offers an excellent opportunity for members of Congress and their staffs and other government officials to learn more about Kenworth hybrid trucks,” says Judy McTigue, Kenworth medium-duty marketing manager.

Mack Trucks demonstrated its TerraPro Cabover, which it describes as the first production-intent parallel diesel-electric hybrid truck model in the United States designed specifically for Class 8 heavy-duty applications and meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions regulations. “Our hybrid technology will be commercially viable, yet it will take time to establish a robust hybrid market for heavy vehicles that will enable us to invest in large scale production,” says Dennis Slagle, Mack president and chief executive officer. “Incentives will accelerate the adoption of Class 8 hybrids and bring forward the positive environmental changes.”

Peterbilt Motors Co. displayed the latest addition to its hybrid lineup, the Peterbilt Model 335 hybrid tractor. “The event provides government representatives a hands-on experience that showcases the ease of operation and environmental friendliness that is currently available to the market with Peterbilt’s hybrid production vehicles,” says Larry Reding, Peterbilt assistant general manger of sales and marketing. “Peterbilt has the industry’s most comprehensive lineup of hybrid vehicles, including three medium-duty models and two heavy-duty hybrid platforms that fully cover applications from pickup-and-delivery, utility work-truck, municipal refuse and potentially line-haul operation.”

Attending the event from ArvinMeritor were Chip McClure, chairman, CEO and president; and Chad Mitts, director of product line management, hybrids and new technology. ArvinMeritor’s first hybrid drivetrain system was launched in a Wal-mart Transportation vehicle earlier this year. Wal-mart, which operates nearly 7,200 heavy-duty trucks in North America and has committed to doubling its fleet efficiency by 2015, is testing and evaluating the newly configured vehicle in regular linehaul service at one of its distribution centers throughout 2009.

“Continued growth in this industry can spell a strategic win for the U.S. economy and the environment,” says Marcy Lowe, research associate at Duke’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness, which conducted the study, Hybrid Drivetrains for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Trucks. “The United States is proving a global leader in this sector, and with the right policies in place, U.S. firms could expand market penetration, add jobs and increase environmental benefits.”

The report indicates that more than 30 states are home to truck and component manufacturing and development in the clean truck sector, and that the growth of the industry offers solid economic opportunities for the whole nation. Duke’s study was commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund and CALSTART’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum Incentives Working Group.

“Even in the midst of the economic downturn, American truck and system makers are poised for a breakthrough in producing hybrid technology, leading to reduced fuel use and emissions and creating ‘green tech’ jobs,” says Bill Van Amburg, CALSTART senior vice
president. “But to succeed, the industry needs support to help fleets purchase efficient trucks and a long-term program to grow the technology.”

Other highlights of the briefing included members of Congress whose districts serve as home to the manufacturers and supply chains for the hybrid truck industry.

CALSTART is a member-supported nonprofit organization of more than 140 firms, fleets and agencies worldwide dedicated to supporting a growing high-tech clean transportation industry that cleans the air, creates jobs, cuts imported oil and reduces global warming emissions. HTUF is one of CALSTART’s national programs. For more information, go to www.calstart.org.