A development that could have application for small- to medium-duty construction trucks is the new hybrid-drive system recently announced by Federal Express, working in concert with Eaton Corp. and Environmental Defense, a non-profit organization that works to solve serious environmental problems.
In the next year, FedEx will place in service 20 delivery vehicles using Eaton's hybrid electric technology. These 16,000-pound-gross-weight vehicles will be indistinguishable from their conventional counterparts, except for "OptiFleet" decals.
Eaton's hybrid technology combines a four-cylinder diesel (the current truck uses a six-cylinder) and an electric motor to drive the vehicle. A computer determines the most efficient combination. Lithium-ion batteries capture and store energy during the regenerative braking phase for future acceleration. No external battery charging is required. The power train uses a particulate trap to further reduce emissions.