From: David Hammer, Associated Press
Published June 22, 2006 12:00 AM

Hydraulic Hybrid Trucks Promise Fuel Savings, Cleaner Air

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government released a model delivery truck, replete with a new hybrid hydraulic system built for the Environmental Protection Agency that will be tested on the streets of Detroit in August.

The new system replaces a truck's transmission with hydraulics and that, combined with a low-emission diesel engine, yields a 60 percent to 70 percent saving on fuel use.

"We work on a lot of different hydraulic equipment for aerospace and this fits in very well," said Ben Hoxie, Eaton Corp's engineering manager for the project.

For the Environment Protection Agency, the project was about making the most immediate impact on air standards and fuel economy after President Geroge W. Bush called for the United States to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. Delivery trucks pile up the hours and miles (kilometers) with city driving. They were among the most likely to benefit from a drivetrain that transfers the energy lost in braking into a series of fluid and air pumps that in turn power acceleration.

The EPA estimates it will take the delivery company involved in the tests less than three years to recover the $7,000 (euro5,500) of outfitting each of its trucks with the new hydraulic system by saving money on fuel and reducing brake wear.

Thd delivery company will keep a close eye on drivability and maintenance issues during the Detroit test runs. The truck already has a big fan in driver Dave Schuler, who took it for a spin in front of the EPA offices in Washington.

"You'd be surprised how it drives because it makes no noise," he said. "You wouldn't think it would have the power for a truck this size."

The delivery company, United Parcel Service partnered with the EPA; Eaton; International Truck and Engine Corp., UPS' largest supplier; and the Army in February 2005 to develop a green fleet of low-emissions vehicles. Eaton started working with EPA in 2001 to develop the hydraulics. It's already provided a similar system for the Army, which is watching the tests to see if it can use the technology to increase by half the fuel economy in its Humvees.

Source: Associated Press

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