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UPS to add 40 series hydraulic hybrid vehicles to its fleet

UPS is deploying 40 new medium-duty series hydraulic hybrid vehicles (HHVs): 20 in Baltimore and 20 in Atlanta. Developed by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) and Parker Hannifin Corporation (earlier post), the parcel delivery vehicles can achieve up to 35% improved fuel economy and up to 30% CO2 emissions reduction over traditional diesel-powered vehicles that use automatic transmissions in stop-and-go applications.

UPS HHV Click to enlarge.

Both deployments were supported in part by grants from the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program. The HHVs in Baltimore will be deployed immediately while the vehicles in Atlanta will be introduced before the end of 2012. UPS currently has one HHV in operation in Laguna Hills, Calif., and has been working closely with manufacturers to develop and test HHV technology since 2006.

UPS currently operates 2,593 vehicles powered by alternative fuels or technology, including hybrid electric, electric, liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas, bio-methane and propane-powered vehicles. As of 2011, UPS’s alternative fuel and technology fleet has logged more than 240 million miles and is well on track to reach the company’s goal of 400 million miles by 2017.



Asking smarter minds than mine: why aren't more commercial vechicles, especially school buses, garbage haulers and delivery vehicles (i.e. UPS trucks) hybridized?

They seem to be the optimal case for hybrids - many starts and stops make best use of brake regeneration and electric motor assist, heavy daily usage maximizes the fuel consumption benefit, etc. I would think that lifetime ownership cost savings of 20-30% on fuel would easily overcome the higher initial expense. So why isn't the UPS fleet 60-80% hybridized?


I suspect that it is because conventional vehicles and their expenses are known quantities, and managers are risk-averse.

When hydraulic hybrids have more of a track record and maintenance crews can be trained on them, I'll bet they start taking serious market share.

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