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NREL Confirms Hybrid Truck Savings

September 11, 2012 in Electric Drive, Hybrids by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Eaton-Drive Class 8 Coca-Cola Tractors Were Tested for 13 Months

Class 8 Kenworth hybrid electric tractor trailers with Eaton parallel drivetrains operated by Coca-Cola demonstrated significant improvements in fuel economy as compared with straight diesel trucks, according to an National Renewable Energy Laboratory assessment.

Kenworth T370 hybrid tractors with Eaton drives operated by Coca-Cola demonstrated 13.7% better fuel economy, resulting in a 12% reduction in fuel costs, NREL found.

“During our 13-month study, the hybrid tractors demonstrated 13.7% higher fuel economy than the conventional tractors, resulting in a 12% reduction in fuel costs for the hybrids,” said NREL senior project leader Mike Lammert.

“Hybrid vehicle total cost of operation per mile was 24% less than the cost of operation for the diesel group,” states Coca-Cola Refreshments Class 8 Diesel Electric Hybrid Tractor Evaluation: 13-Month Final Report.

NREL researchers compared five Kenworth T370 hybrid tractors to straight diesel Freightliner M2 tractors at a Coca-Cola facility in the Miami area. A random dispatch system ensured that the vehicles were used in a similar manner, says the Report.

The Kenworth hybrids had 6.7-liter Paccar PX-6 diesel engines with Eaton parallel hybrid electric drivetrains with 26-kilowatt (continuous; 35 horsepower) motors and 1.8-kilowatt-hour lithium ion batteries by Hitachi.

The conventional test vehicle was a 2009 Freightliner M2 106 single-axle tractor, powered by an 8.3-liter Cummins ISC diesel engine with Eaton Fuller manual 7-speed transmission. The conventional tractors were approximately the same age and operated in similar conditions in the same facility as the hybrids, NREL says.

During dynamometer testing, the hybrids demonstrated up to a 30% improvement in fuel economy, depending on drive cycle, and up to a 32.1% improvement in ton-miles-per-gallon.

Cost Is King

“Our analysis identified key variables on trucking routes – such as idle time, kinetic intensity, and average speed – that, if taken into consideration, can help Coca-Cola Refreshments optimize the use of its hybrid vehicles on routes where they offer the greatest fuel economy benefits,” Lammert said.

“We see cost as the number one barrier to companies using advanced technologies,” Lammert said. “Testing likes this helps companies understand whether these vehicles are going to save them money over the long run.”


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