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Peapod adds two LH hydraulic hybrids delivery trucks to fleet

Peapod, the leading online grocer in the US, took delivery of its first two hydraulic hybrid delivery trucks this month. The vehicles, existing Workhorse walk-in vans with GM gasoline engines and equipped with the Lightning Hybrids Energy Recovery System (ERS), are in service on the streets of Chicago and were partially paid for by the Drive Clean Chicago voucher program for clean vehicles.

The trucks, the first hydraulic hybrids in Peapod’s fleet of approximately 130 vehicles in the Midwest, are expected to reduce fuel consumption, reduce brake maintenance costs and cut emissions significantly in Peapod service neighborhoods.

Lightning Hybrids applies a hydraulic system to the driveline of a vehicle to regenerate braking energy. Hydraulic pumps and a lightweight accumulator store braking energy and upon acceleration use the stored energy to provide torque to power the wheels. The fuel efficiency gains are achieved by regenerating the braking energy that is normally wasted to heat, and using this energy instead of the internal combustion engine for acceleration. Lightning Hybrids’ patented hydraulic hybrid system includes high-efficiency hydraulic pumps, a unique power transfer module, a lightweight accumulator system, a valve block, and a proprietary control system.


Peapod, by design, is a green company. Every Peapod truck on the road eliminates the need for an average of 20 passenger vehicles to drive to the grocery store. The addition of these hydraulic hybrid trucks to the Peapod fleet further increases the benefit and reduces our carbon footprint. The Drive Clean Chicago voucher program made it easy for us to add the Lightning Hybrids system to our mix of effective ways to reduce emissions, as well as increase fuel efficiency and make Peapod a better neighbor in the communities we serve.

—Claudia Fikert, transportation fleet administrator, Midwest Region, Peapod

The Lightning Hybrids system was installed at the Advanced VTech facilities in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Ron Sheble, vice president of finance for Advanced VTech, said that the retrofit of the ERS required only minimum downtime. Sheble expects emissions to be reduced by 50%; further, the vehicles now have more power for acceleration and smoother braking.

Peapod’s hydraulic hybrids are on the road in Chicago now. Lightning Hybrids currently has systems operating in fleets around the world with orders for more in Chicago and Massachusetts in the next month. The ERS is made and assembled in Loveland, Colorado at Lightning Hybrids’ advanced manufacturing and engineering facilities.



Good to see that Lightning Hybrids is still around. I remember them coming out with a concept car back when the automotive X-prize was going on. Their hydraulic hybrid setup was intriguing and was hoping they would succeed.


This system is one of the few direct fruits of the USDOE Supercar program of 1993. Despite the management debacle, numerous patents were shared with US auto and truck manufacturers. It was also responsible for the rapid development of Toyota and Honda hybrids.


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