EPA unveils hydraulic hybrid UPS delivery truck

This week in Washington, the EPA pulled the wraps off of the hydraulic hybrid vehicle we reported it was developing back in December of 2005.

The result of the cooperative effort between the EPA, UPS, Eaton, and International Truck is a familiar-looking brown UPS delivery van. The only clue that this is no standard UPS truck is the fairly subtle "Low Emission Hydraulic Hybrid"  label it sports on its side panels. The Hydraulic Hybrid eschews batteries and electric motors, instead mating the truck's diesel engine to a hydraulic propulsion system, made up of a series of hydraulic storage tanks and pumps. This system replaces the conventional drivetrain completely, and offers similar benefits to gas/diesel-electric hybrids such as regenerative braking. The hydraulic system's ability to store and deliver larger amounts of power also can be used to provide launch assistance to the tune of 100 horsepower for 20 seconds.

The benefits of using a hydraulic hybrid system, according to EPA claims, are a 60%-70% increase in fuel economy (based on lab tests), a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions, and a lower "hybrid penalty" costwise, which can be recovered in as little as three years due to fuel savings (1,000 gallons of diesel/year) and reduction in brake maintenance costs.

The UPS demonstrator truck displayed will begin working daily routes in the Detroit area this summer. Presumably, data will be collected and analyzed based on this real-world application of the technology.

The system is currently seen as potentially being a boon to urban commercial/industrial vehicle applications such as delivery vehicles, school buses, and garbage trucks, all of which operate in a mostly stop-and-go environment that would optimze the use of the hybrid system. The Army is also testing a truck equipped with a similar powertrain.

Update: AutoblogGreen did an informative post on Hydraulic Hybrid technology earlier this month. Check it out for more background info.

(Joint press release, EPA info and links after the jump.)

[Source: New York Times] EPA Unveils Unique Hydraulic Hybrid Diesel Delivery Truck with UPS, International Truck and Engine, Eaton and U.S. Army

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2006 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today unveiled the first-ever series hydraulic hybrid diesel urban delivery vehicle, which will provide dramatic improvements in fuel economy and in emission reductions. The development of the hydraulic hybrid is the result of a partnership between the EPA, U.S. Army, UPS, International Truck and Engine Corporation and Eaton Corporation.

The EPA and UPS plan to evaluate the vehicle's fuel economy performance and emissions during a series of tests in 2006. In laboratory testing, the EPA's patented hydraulic hybrid diesel technology achieved a 60 to 70 percent improvement in fuel economy and more than a 40 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, compared to a conventional UPS vehicle.

"EPA and our partners are not just delivering packages with this UPS truck - we are delivering environmental benefits to the American people," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "President Bush is moving technology breakthroughs from the labs to the streets. We are doing what is good for our environment, good for our economy, and good for our nation's energy security."

The EPA cited laboratory tests showing that the technology has the potential to dramatically improve the fuel economy of urban vehicles used in applications such as package delivery, shuttle and transit buses and refuse pick-up.

The EPA estimated that when manufactured in high volume, the added costs of the hybrid components could be recouped in less than three years through lower fuel and brake maintenance costs.

In the series hydraulic hybrid diesel, a high-efficiency diesel engine is combined with a unique hydraulic propulsion system, replacing the conventional drivetrain and transmission. The vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in hybrid electric vehicles. Fuel economy is increased in three ways: vehicle braking energy is recovered that normally is wasted; the engine is operated more efficiently; and the engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating.

The diesel hydraulic hybrid truck is potentially eligible to qualify for a tax credit that is up to 40 percent of the incremental cost of the vehicle under a provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

UPS, International and Eaton have been working with the EPA and the U.S. Army's National Automotive Center on the hydraulic technology for several years.

"The hydraulic hybrid technology is quite promising and we're eager to see how the vehicle performs in a real-world setting," said John Beystehner, chief operating officer of UPS. "We have led our industry in testing alternative fuel vehicles because fuel conservation is critical to our business. We believe the impact of this initiative will go far beyond our industry," said Beystehner.

UPS will test the hydraulic hybrid for the next several months. It will be used on a city route in the Detroit area, making daily deliveries to homes and businesses. Previously, UPS partnered with the EPA on its hydrogen fuel cell delivery vehicles, which have been part of the company's fleet since 2003.

"The diesel hydraulic hybrid concept has the potential to offer our truck customers something very unique - performance and near zero emissions with dramatic improvements in fuel economy," said Dee Kapur, International president - Truck Group. "International is pleased to be a part of the integration of this technology into the entire vehicle system to provide true value to our customers."

International has a history of close technical cooperation with the EPA Advanced Technology Division. In 2004, International, under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, began work on Clean Diesel Combustion technology to dramatically lower emissions inside the combustion chamber, minimizing the need for after treatment.

International is the number one truck manufacturer in the medium duty and school bus market. These vehicles are typically in a mode of stop-and-go operation, which is the optimal mode of operation for the diesel hydraulic hybrid. "To continue to be a market leader, we need to pursue technological advancements that provide benefits to our customers. The diesel hydraulic hybrid is just such a technology," Kapur said.

Eaton has been working with the EPA since October 2001 under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement involving hydraulic hybrid systems. As part of the company's role in designing and developing hybrid technologies, Eaton engineers have been co-located at EPA's Ann Arbor, Mich. facility. Eaton is also working on a number of other hybrid vehicle initiatives with UPS, International and others.

"Eaton sees the series hybrid as a natural and exciting progression in the development of hydraulic hybrid systems," said Craig Arnold, Eaton senior vice president and president - Fluid Power Group. "We have developed a parallel hybrid system called the Eaton Hydraulic Launch Assist™ (HLA®) system that we plan to offer commercially starting in 2007. We believe this product will provide our customers with the confidence to consider the series hybrid when it is commercialized."

"Eaton continues to develop a number of hybrid hydraulic and hybrid electric vehicle technologies with wide-ranging customer applications," Arnold said. "We are committed to working with the EPA , our industries and our customers to create a cleaner, brighter future."

About UPS
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. UPS's stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS), and the company can be found on the Web at www.UPS.com.
About International Truck and Engine Corporation
International Truck and Engine Corporation is the operating company of Navistar International Corporation (NYSE: NAV). The company produces International® brand commercial trucks, mid-range diesel engines and IC brand school buses, Workhorse brand chassis for motor homes and step vans, and is a private label designer and manufacturer of diesel engines for the pickup truck, van and SUV markets. The company is also a provider of truck and diesel engine parts and service sold under the International® brand. A wholly owned subsidiary offers financing services. Additional information is available at www.internationaldelivers.com.

About Eaton Corporation
Eaton Corporation (NYSE:ETN) is a diversified industrial manufacturer with 2005 sales of $11.1 billion. Eaton is a global leader in electrical systems and components for power quality, distribution and control; fluid power systems and services for industrial, mobile and aircraft equipment; intelligent truck drivetrain systems for safety and fuel economy; and automotive engine air management systems, powertrain solutions and specialty controls for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has 60,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 125 countries. For more information, visit www.eaton.com.

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EPA fact Sheet:
World's First Full Hydraulic Hybrid in a Delivery Truck

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its industry partners unveiled an innovative new technology vehicle – the first-ever delivery van with a full series hydraulic hybrid drivetrain in a UPS vehicle.

EPA is leading the development of hydraulic hybrid vehicles. This breakthrough technology can cost-effectively reduce emissions and drastically reduce fuel consumption while maintaining or improving performance.

This advanced technology UPS demonstration vehicle achieves:
  • 60-70% better fuel economy in laboratory tests
  • 40% or more reduction in carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas
  • Ability to recoup additional cost for new hydraulic hybrid technology in less than 3 years.

In a full hydraulic hybrid, a hydraulic drivetrain replaces the conventional drivetrain and eliminates the need for a conventional transmission. It increases vehicle fuel economy in three ways: it permits the recovery of energy that is otherwise wasted in vehicle braking, it allows the engine to be operated at much more efficient modes, and it enables the engine to be shutoff during many operating conditions such as when the vehicle is decelerating and stopped at a light.

A delivery vehicle is an excellent application for hybrid technology since its service cycles involve numerous braking events. Hydraulic hybrid technology has significant commercial potential for a wide range of medium-sized vehicles such as urban delivery trucks, shuttle/transit buses, and waste disposal vehicles.

The organizations that contributed to the development of the UPS demonstration vehicle are: EPA, Eaton Corporation, UPS, International Truck and Engine Corporation, U.S. Army – National Automotive Center, and Morgan-Olson. Major technical support was provided by FEV Engine Technology, Inc. and Southwest Research Institute.

Eaton Corporation - played a key role with EPA to develop the innovative integrated hydraulic rear-drive used in this UPS package vehicle.

EPA estimates that the added costs for the hybrid components, produced in high volume, for a package delivery vehicle have the potential to be less than $7,000, which would be recouped in less than three years by the lower fuel and brake maintenance costs. In today's dollars, the net lifetime savings over this vehicle's typical 20 year lifespan are estimated to be more than $50,000. If fuel prices continue to increase at a faster rate than inflation, the lifetime savings would be even greater.

EPA and UPS plan to evaluate the demonstration vehicle in on-the-road service during 2006.

EPA is developing a second UPS demonstration vehicle in a second phase of this partnership in order to explore the cost effectiveness of a different full hydraulic hybrid system configuration under a variety of load and driving cycle conditions. EPA also plans to install an EPA Clean Diesel Combustion (CDC) engine in the phase 2 vehicle. The CDC engine does not need NOx aftertreatment to achieve 2010 NOx standards.

Additional Info:

EPA: Recent Developments With Urban Delivery Vehicles

More Information