In late September, International Truck and Engine announced it was about to begin the nation's largest medium-truck, diesel-electric hybrid utility field test program in the first quarter of 2006.
Preliminary results of its Class 5 and 6 hybrid vehicles showed impressive numbers, including a decrease in fuel usage from 40 to 60 percent while reducing emissions.
The field-test program, sponsored by WestStart's Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), will test 24 factory-built utility trucks equipped with an integrated hybrid power-train solution jointly developed by International and Eaton Corp. The study was designed to anticipate how trucks in the test would be used on a larger scale.
"When you combine the high cost of diesel with potential maintenance savings and tax incentives, the business case for hybrid-electric vehicles becomes more and more favorable," says Tom Cellitti, vice president/general manager, Medium Vehicle Center, International. "As the production volume of hybrid trucks increases, the price will decrease due to scale, making a commercially viable product more likely in the future."