Stimulus funding to assist Eaton in commercial hybrid deployment

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Eaton Corp. announced Wednesday, Aug. 12, that its truck and electrical businesses will support a $45.4 million grant to produce plug-in hybrid-electric power systems for 378 vehicles, the nation’s largest commercial hybrid deployment to date. The funding is part of the recently announced $2.4 billion in grants by the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Eaton will work with grant recipient South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and other affiliates — including the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI), Altec Industries, Compact Power Inc., Ford Motor Co. and Southern California Edison — in the deployment of plug-in hybrid-electric commercial vehicles to more than 50 utility and municipal fleets nationwide. Eaton also will provide infrastructure for the electrical charging of these vehicles.

“This funding is an important milestone in the advancement of plug-in hybrid vehicles, and Eaton is pleased to be a recipient,” says Alexander M. Cutler, chairman and chief executive officer of Cleveland-based Eaton. “By providing our sustainable energy-saving technologies to power the vehicles, as well as the electrical infrastructure support to help keep them running, we believe we can provide Eaton customers with the technology they need to move plug-in hybrids to the next level.”

The development and deployment of the plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEV) and accompanying charging infrastructure will take place over 18 months. Vehicles will be evaluated over a two-year period.

“The production and demonstration of this fleet of vehicles is a significant step in driving PHEV technology beyond the personal transportation platform to a daily work application,” says Mark Duvall, director of electric transportation at EPRI. “This project leverages Eaton’s current hybrid-electric system and builds upon nearly three years of ongoing work by Eaton and EPRI to develop PHEV technology for commercial vehicles.”

In the utility truck application, the plug-in hybrids will be based on the Ford F-550 chassis and will have a total range of at least 300 miles. The system will provide fuel economy improvement of up to 70 percent when compared to a standard utility vehicle, with similar reductions in emissions and noise. The entire system can be recharged by plugging it into a standard 120- or 240-volt electrical outlet. In addition, the trucks will be capable of powering auxiliary equipment and tools while stopped at a worksite.

An important element in the adoption of these vehicles is the electrical infrastructure for plug-in charging. Eaton will work with EPRI to develop plug-in station technology for use by utilities and other customers across the country.