Eaton Corporation is developing a parallel-hybrid power system for the heavy-duty (Class 8) commercial vehicle market to deliver both on-road efficiency and idle reduction for significant fuel savings and emissions reductions.
The heavy-duty system will be similar in design and will share many of the same components as Eaton’s medium-duty hybrid electric system built for Class 4-7 vehicles, but will be adapted for Class 8 vehicles with on-highway applications.
Fleets using Eaton’s heavy-duty hybrid system will experience reduced fuel consumption both while driving and when parked. Recent independent test results have shown a 5-7% savings versus a conventional Class 8 vehicle while driving, and a savings of one gallon per hour when parked.
Those savings equate to about $9,500 a truck per year in normal operation, resulting in cost savings for a typical truckload carrier with 1,000 power units to $9.5 million per year.
The idle reduction mode in Eaton’s heavy-duty hybrid system will enable fleets to save fuel, reduce emissions and comply with rapidly expanding local anti-idling laws. The system’s batteries power the heating, air conditioning, and vehicle electrical systems while the engine is off.
When the idle reduction mode is active, engine operation is limited to battery charging, an automatically controlled process that will take approximately five minutes per hour. In the proposed system design, a proprietary feature minimizes engine vibration during start-up and shut-down during the recharge periods, allowing the driver to rest without interruption.
Eaton’s will build its heavy-duty hybrid-electric power system using an automated manual transmission with a parallel-type direct hybrid system, incorporating an electric motor/generator located between the output of an automated clutch and the input to a Fuller UltraShift transmission.
The system will support regenerative braking. When electric torque is blended with engine torque, this recovered and stored energy is used to improve vehicle performance, operate the engine in a more fuel-efficient range for a given speed, or operate with electric power only.
We see an exciting future for hybrid electric vehicles in the heavy-duty market place. We’ve demonstrated our leadership in hybrid power over the last five years for our medium-duty customers, and we’re confident that we can carry that forward with a strong value proposition to our heavy-duty customers.—Kevin Beaty, manager, Eaton Hybrid Power Systems
Eaton’s heavy-duty hybrid system is currently in the testing and development phases. Eaton is working with truck and engine makers and select fleets to field prototypes for field evaluation. Eaton expects to make available its heavy-duty hybrid power system well before 2010, and could help meet the latest EPA emissions regulations scheduled to be enforced at that time.
Eaton has been working on introducing hybrid power into commercial trucks since 2002 when it was selected as the sole supplier of 18 hybrid electric power systems that were installed in the Fed-Ex Opti-Fleet E700 vehicle through a project sponsored by FedEx Express and advocacy group Environmental Defense.
That same year Eaton was selected, in partnership with International Truck and Engine, to lead the Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratories’ Advanced Heavy Hybrid Propulsion System project. Through this project Eaton developed a hybrid electric power train for the class 4-7 market that was integrated onto a United Parcel Service (UPS) urban package delivery vehicle. (Earlier post.)
FedEx is ordering an additional 75 Opti-Fleet E-700 trucks, and UPS is ordering an additional 50 hybrid vans. Eaton has also partnered with International and the Hybrid Truck Users Forum to build hybrid-powered utility trucks, of which 24 have been built and are being deployed in utility fleets throughout the United States. (Earlier post.)
Eaton is also involved in hydraulic hybrid systems for various truck applications and yesterday teamed with the Environmental Protection Agency, UPS, International and the US Army to unveil a hydraulic hybrid diesel vehicle that significantly increases fuel efficiency and decreases emissions. (Earlier post.)