Freightliner, FedEx roll out new hybrid electric trucks

GAFFNEY, S.C. — Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., FedEx Express, Eaton, Utilimaster and Detroit Diesel have all teamed to develop a “revolutionary” line of hybrid electric-powered walk-in vans.

FedEx Express, which initiated the program, already has a handful of pilot units on the road and will now roll out about 100 more. The vans are expected to become a mainstay in the FedEx medium-duty delivery fleet.

With dramatically reduced emissions and improved fuel economy, FCCC’s new hybrid electric-powered vehicle is gaining national attention, says the company. In December, FedEx Express received a 2005 Blue Sky Award from
CALSTART, an advanced transportation technologies consortium, in “recognition of outstanding marketplace contributions to advanced, sustainable transportation that cleans the air, improves energy efficiency and reduces greenhouse emissions.”

“Freightliner Custom Chassis is extremely proud to be partnering with FedEx as we produce the chassis at our plant with the highly advanced Eaton hybrid-electric system,” says Joe Snyder, FCCC’s product manager for commercial vehicles. “This successful relationship once again puts us on the cutting edge of technology for light- and medium-duty trucks throughout the NAFTA Region and the world.”

The hybrid-electric vehicle is powered by an electric motor through an energy storage device developed by Eaton and a Mercedes-Benz MBE904 diesel engine from Detroit Diesel, explains Mike Stark, senior technical sales manager for FCCC.

Lithium-ion batteries capture and store energy during the “regenerative braking” phase of the vehicle’s operation, providing a source of stored electrical power on demand. All battery charging is provided by the hybrid-electric power train, eliminating the need for a power cord or
electrical outlet.

“This combination of conventional diesel and electric propulsion systems provides the extended range and rapid refueling characteristics of a typical diesel engine plus the fuel efficiency and lower emissions of an electric motor,” says Stark.

The new hybrid electric-powered walk-in vans have shown improvements in fuel economy of more than 50 percent and a 90-percent reduction in emissions, according to a press release.

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