Slide Show: Hybrid Trucks Are Here for the Long (Medium and Short) Haul

An explosion in the number and kind of commercially available hybrid trucks means battery power isn't just for lightweight commuter vehicles anymore
1 of 11


The Terex Commander 4047 by Dueco, with a hybrid power train by Odyne, is a plug-in electric hybrid with an all-electric mode suitable for low-noise operation on a drilling site. (Most of the noise from a truck of this kind comes from its diesel engine.)....[ More ]


Andrew Frank [ far left ], a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Davis, who is widely credited with inventing the plug-in hybrid vehicle, is currently collaborating with the U.S.....[ More ]


The largest trucks on the road, so-called "class 8" trucks, with a gross volume weight of 33,000 pounds (14,950 kilograms), have been among the most challenging vehicles to hybridize, mostly because of the way in which they're used for long hauls on highways: Absent the frequent stops and starts of city traffic, the regenerative braking of a hybrid–electric power train doesn't have many opportunities to recover energy and improve fuel efficiency.....[ More ]


The U.S. Department of Defense, the world's single largest consumer of liquid fuels, has worked with companies such as Oshkosh Corp. to develop hybrid versions of many of its vehicles. Oshkosh's Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck with the ProPulse diesel–electric drive system not only saves fuel, it also "serves as an onboard AC electric generator with enough output to power an entire airfield or hospital," according to the company.....[ More ]


President Obama stands in front of a plug-in hybrid Ford F-550 "trouble truck" that was jointly developed by the Electronic Power Research Institute, Eaton Corp. and Ford. The vehicle is currently being tested at Southern California Edison, one of over 30 utilities supporting this program.....[ More ]


FedEx was an early adopter of hybrid trucks, and until 2008 could boast that it maintained the largest fleet of hybrid electric vehicles in North America. (That crown was passed to UPS in May 2008, when it ordered 200 hybrid trucks, and then to Coca-Cola Enterprises in January 2009, which boosted its fleet to a total of 327.) FedEx currently maintains a fleet of 170 hybrid trucks that has racked up more than 3.5 million miles (5.6 million kilometers) of service.....[ More ]


Electric Vehicles International makes hybrid–electric and fully electric trucks, and claims to have the first road-ready all-electric truck available in the U.S. EVI takes the somewhat unusual step of leasing rather than selling its users the batteries in its vehicles.....[ More ]


Bucket (utility) trucks with hybrid–electric power trains achieve all the efficiencies of conventional hybrids (such as increased fuel efficiency through regenerative braking) and also have a another advantage: the trucks can be turned off when only the bucket lift is being used.....[ More ]


Hydraulic hybrid refuse trucks built by Peterbilt, with power trains by Eaton, store energy recovered from braking as compressed hydraulic fluid, rather than electricity. Stored energy can then be used the next time the driver steps on the gas as a "launch assist," which takes some of the load off of the truck's diesel engine when it accelerates from a standstill.....[ More ]


Coca-Cola Enterprises, a bottler and distributor, has the largest fleet of hybrid trucks in the U.S., with a total of 327 trucks. Roughly half the hybrid fleet consists of delivery trucks, which see significant fuel savings (up to 30 percent) when compared with conventional vehicles.....[ More ]


Conventional refrigerated and utility trucks draw power from the diesel engine to power onboard electronics, but it's often more fuel-efficient to power these systems via batteries. (For instance, using stored energy to keep a refrigerated truck cool allows the vehicle's engine to be switched off when the truck is not in motion.)

Azure Dynamics's Low Emission Electric Power System is a "mild hybrid" electric system that provides power for these and other applications.....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
Share this Article:

Email this Article