UPS to roll out hydraulic hybrid vehicles

UPS' hydraulic hybrid vehicle.

UPS will deploy the first two hydraulic hybrid vehicles during the first quarter of 2009.

UPS has become the first delivery company to place an order for seven hydraulic hybrid vehicles (HHV) in a proactive move to achieve fuel savings and environmental benefits.

The purchase forms part of the public-private partnership between UPS and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase the commercial availability and use of alternative fuel vehicles.

Requested by the EPA, the company successfully completed a two-year road testing of the HHV technology, which stores energy by compressing hydraulic fluid under pressure in a large chamber.

“There is no question that hydraulic hybrids, although little known to the public, are ready for prime-time use on the streets of America,” UPS chief operating officer David Abney said.

“We are not declaring hydraulic hybrids a panacea for our energy woes, but this technology certainly is as promising as anything we’ve seen to date.”

The technology enhances fuel economy by recovering vehicle braking energy, shutting off the engine when stopped or decelerating along with more efficient engine operation.

According to the results of the road trial on Detroit routes, the prototype vehicle achieved a 45-60 per cent improvement in fuel economy compared to conventional diesel delivery trucks. If used commercially, the technology is expected to bring a 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions with similar fuel economy improvements. 

Eaton, which developed the vehicle’s engine, said there were a number of other hybrid vehicle initiatives underway.

“We continue to be pleased with the progress and potential of the hydraulic hybrid system,” Easton CEO Alexander M. Cutler said.

“The market for this technology is truly global and it can provide significant improvements in fuel economy and emission reductions for trucks, buses and off-road vehicles of many shapes and sizes.

UPS’s current ‘green fleet’ totals more than 1,600 low-carbon vehicles, including all-electric, hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas and propane-powered trucks.

The company will deploy the first two HHVs in Minneapolis during the first quarter of 2009, with Eaton named to monitor the vehicles’ performance. The additional five HHVs will be deployed by 2010.

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