• Jan 4th 2010 at 2:04PM
  • 14
UPS and its competitors at FedEx and DHL have all been testing a variety of hybrid drive delivery vans for several years now. Recently, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory completed a twelve-month evaluation of six hybrid vans being used by UPS in the Phoenix, Arizona area and the results were good. Very good, in fact. After twelve months of operation, the hybrid vans averaged 28.9 percent lower fuel consumption than similar conventional diesel vans. Even with the extra cost of the hybrid vehicles, the overall cost per mile was cut by 15 percent.

The hybrid vans are based on Freightliner chassis with Mercedes-Benz diesel engines. The hybrid hardware was provided by Eaton corporation using the supplier's automated manual transmission with integrated electric motor/generator. Electrical energy storage is provided by a lithium ion battery pack of unknown origin. As a result of the testing, UPS has ordered 200 more of the Eaton hybrid vans for its fleet. UPS is also continuing to test other hybrid vehicles, including hydraulic hybrids.

[Source: UPS]


NREL Evaluates UPS Hybrid-Electric Van Performance

New trucks deliver more than 28% fuel savings
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has collected and analyzed fuel economy, maintenance and other vehicle performance data from UPS's first generation hybrid diesel step delivery vans powered by an Eaton Corp. electric hybrid propulsion system.

The diesel hybrid delivery vans improved the on-road fuel economy by 28.9 percent resulting in a 15 percent improvement in total cost per mile while maintaining similar reliability and operational performance as compared to conventional vehicles.

Funded by the DOE's Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA), NREL's Fleet Test & Evaluation (FT&E) team performed a 12-month evaluation of six of these hybrid vans at a UPS location in Phoenix.

The report released this week details the year-long demonstration project, including how the FT&E team collected and analyzed fuel economy, maintenance and other vehicle performance data on the vans, which are being used in delivery service. The project also tested a conventional and hybrid delivery van in NREL's ReFUEL laboratory in Denver, Colo., and documented fuel economy and emissions performance on various test cycles.

Robert Hall, UPS director of maintenance and engineering, said he hopes the evaluation will speed up market acceptance of hybrid diesel systems. "NREL's report on the performance of our hybrid delivery vehicles is helping make this type of energy-efficient vehicle a standard in the industry."

Eaton Corp. provided the hybrid propulsion systems for the vehicles, which were manufactured by Freightliner Corp. The hybrid system employs an Eaton automated transmission with an integrated motor/generator and advanced lithium ion batteries. Both the Freightliner hybrid model and the conventional model use a Mercedes-Benz MBE 904 four-cylinder diesel engine. UPS has recently ordered an additional 200 Eaton hybrid electric powered vans.

The Eaton hybrid system was developed in part under a previous $7.5 million, 33-month contract from DOE's Advanced Heavy Hybrid Propulsion System program.

"Having provided funding for the development of the Eaton hybrid system, DOE was eager to participate in testing the system in a commercial fleet," Lee Slezak, DOE's AVTA program manager said. "Our goal is to help develop more efficient vehicle technologies and then document their on-road performance."

The evaluation of UPS' new diesel hybrid vans follows a 2002 UPS/DOE demonstration of 13 compressed natural gas delivery vehicles in UPS' Hartford, Conn., fleet. NREL's FT&E team also provided direction and analysis on that project. A second generation study is currently planned for 2010 to look at more advanced versions of the Eaton hybrid in operation within the UPS fleet.

NREL is DOE's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

UPS is the world's largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. For more information on UPS, contact Lynnette McIntire 404-828-7895.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Rooftop solar panels are the logical next step, without a question.

      There's a large flat surface that can catch plenty of light, especially in the South / South West of the country. Perhaps as much as 1000W.

      And if one needs light on the inside of the cargo box, then LEDs could use very little power. (a tiny fraction of what's being produced overhead even on a cloudy day).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Many postal routes would seem to me excellent candidates for the use of pure EV.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I bet the saving in cost per mile is from using diesel fuel rather than gas. I don't believe hybrid technology can save money with gas at $2.70/gal.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You bet your butt hybrid technology can save money with gas at $2.70/gal. These vehicles are driven all day 5 days a week. Even a tiny savings in fuel costs adds up quickly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Given that hybrids are best in the stop & go of city traffic, this is the best use of a hybrid!
        Even if they were gas powered, they'd have an advantage!
      • 5 Years Ago
      You could also use the diesel / nat gas dual fuel and reduce diesel use by much more. Build some ANG tanks onto the roof if possible.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That PDF on the USPS and EVs is interesting and depressing. Postal delivery is a PERFECT application for EVs. Limited ranges needed. Slow speed generally acceptable. Overnight charging is fine. The problem seemed to be all sorts of "one-off" expensive government contracts for dedicated vehicles such that the ability to get parts and service was limited and expensive. And they are doing it again with some recent Chrylser mini-vans they ordered. They SHOULD buy vehicles built with the Chevy Volt powertrain since that will be available as a commercial product sold to other customers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The solar panel idea is a natural progression but would have a small return, if any, in true urban settings. The towering nature of sky scraper does block quite a bit of sun, so panels would likely not be as effective in downtown settings, elsewhere maybe, but not downtown. Of course, the larger vehicles (as pictured) will not likely be used downtown since there are more nimble vehicles to choose from. Rural and suburban implementations could definitely pay off though. I'd like to see more Vegie Hybrids in the true urban environments - plenty of restaurants in the typical downtown landscape.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The picture looks like their "default" standard size vans I see running around all the time and delivering to my suburban neighborhood. Downtown might not be good for solar, but most of suburbia in the southwest would be fine (not a lot of tree cover).
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Lithium Ion batteries (and motor and inverter) are from Hitachi.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Are they testing them in any other city? Like a cold one for example? I am curious about the performance difference, if any.
      • 5 Years Ago
      With all that roof top real estate on those vans, it's seams the next logical step is some solar panels. The vans make such frequent stops that it would seam they could easily provide most of the energy needed for the relatively small amount of miles driven each day, then top off at night at the warehouse.
        • 5 Years Ago
        UPS already has translucent roofs because then they can save on power by not having to light the inside of the trucks if it's light outside. Putting a solar panel on the roof would undo this. I can't imagine it's efficient to take in sunlight, convert it to electricity, then turn it back to light to light the trucks instead of just letting the sun in. Although, they could turn off the lights when the driver isn't back there, whereas sunlight just goes to waste right now in that case.
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