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May 21, 2008 Vol. 4, No. 11

Getting traction is what it’s all about, no matter what the endeavor, and the hybrid truck idea is getting lots of it these days. It got a huge boost a week or so ago when UPS announced it had ordered 200 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) — the largest commercial order of such trucks by any company – as well as another 300 trucks running on compressed natural gas (CNG). All 500 are to be parcel delivery vans built by Freightliner Custom Chassis, with Eaton supplying the hybrid power system for the HEVs.

The UPS ‘green’ contingent is already the largest private fleet in North America to run on one form of alternative fuel or another, but it’s about to grow 30% from 1718 to 2218 low-carbon vehicles. In fact,
the green fleet also operates trucks in Europe, Brazil, and Mexico, and has put some 144 million miles on the clock in the process since 2000. The fleet includes electric, hybrid electric, CNG, liquefied natural gas and propane-powered vehicles. And then there’s a technology that, in my opinion, isn’t getting quite enough traction: the hydraulic hybrid. Happily, UPS says it’s still working with the Environmental Protection Agency on just such a delivery truck.

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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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