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Azure Building Two Hybrid Class-7 Medium-Duty Delivery Trucks


Azure Dynamics, which recently delivered hybrid prototypes to the USPS (earlier post) is building two parallel-hybrid medium-duty Class 7 delivery trucks for Charmer-Sunbelt, a leading beverage distributor.

Azure will install parallel-hybrid drive systems into two diesel-powered Kenworth T300s. The hybrids will then undergo trials gauging fuel efficiency and emissions performance as part of Charmer-Sunbelt’s New York City fleet of more than 250 delivery trucks. The trucks will operate within New York City’s five boroughs and western Nassau County.

The Azure Dynamics parallel hybrid electric drive system consists of an electric AC induction motor, clutch, ultracapacitor bank, power electronics and accessory equipment. The motor and clutch sit between the conventional combustion engine and transmission and are used to start and turn off the combustion engine and assist during acceleration and braking. The hybrid control algorithm will turn the combustion engine off during idle periods and launch the truck under all-electric zero-emission mode up to 15 mph.

Azure expects that the hybrids can achieve up to 40% better fuel economy while reducing maintenance costs by nearly half and emissions by as much as 90%.

The Charmer-Sunbelt solution is based on work done by Solectria on its Super 7 Hybrid drivetrain, which it launched as a concept in 2003. Azure acquired Solectria in December 2004. Solectria and Azure had already worked together on a number of projects, and their technology sets were complementary. (Earlier post.)

The Super 7 drivetrain, designed for Class 7 delivery trucks (up to 50,000 lbs gross vehicle weight), and implemented on a T300 for a testbed, consisted of a two-motor drive system and ultracapacitors for energy storage.

Track testing of that system confirmed a 35% fuel economy improvement over conventional delivery trucks. Reduction in brake maintenance was also significant, given that approximately 90% of the Super 7 braking effort is electric, allowing energy to be stored for reuse. Solectria studies showed delivery trucks average more than half their operating time below 5 mph, making them excellent candidates for a hybrid application of this sort.

More detail on the specifics of the drivetrain components as I can get them.


Jeffrey Dubinsky

I think this is fantastic. The reason being is that unlike the cost benefit of the Prius or other hybrid cars, large companies will see a true benefit to such technologies on a cost basis. If they can show reduced maint. costs and that much of a savings in fuel it will make a real imapct.


What happens if someone on the road has a rear end crash into this test car? How much more flamable is it than gas powered cars?


The truck still has a diesel engine and burns diesel fuel, just as a conventional truck would. The difference is the addition of an electric motor and energy storage that allows it to reduce its fuel consumption. No additional danger of flammability beyond what would exist in a conventional rig.

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