VERGE

Kraft, Honda Acquire New Hybrid Trucks for Pilots, EVI Unveils Electric Truck in U.S.

Kraft, Honda Acquire New Hybrid Trucks for Pilots, EVI Unveils Electric Truck in U.S.

Kraft Foods Inc. will put a new refrigerated diesel-electric hybrid truck on the road to transport frozen food, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. will start using a hybrid truck to haul service parts in Georgia and Electric Vehicles International USA is introducing its fully electric work truck to the U.S. market.

The developments — all billed as "firsts" by the various companies — emerged this week, two of them at the 2009 National Truck Equipment Association Work Truck Show in Chicago.

In a presentation at the show, representatives for Navistar International Inc. handed over the keys to an International DuraStar Hybrid delivery truck with a RouteMax refrigerated truck body to Kraft Foods.

The truck, a pilot vehicle, features mild parallel-type diesel-electric hybrid architecture developed by Eaton Corporation and a self-powered, extended-route cold plate refrigeration system. Navistar exclusively offers the system in cooperation with Johnson Truck Bodies.

The pairing of the units is a first. The delivery truck is expected to provide a 30 percent fuel savings compared to a conventional diesel truck of a comparable size. The refrigerated body, powered by the onboard hybrid system, is expected to save 1,400 gallons of fuel a year when compared to traditional refrigerated blower units that are powered by diesel, according to Navistar.

Navistar's DuraStar trucks were in the news last summer when Cox Communications announced that it had ordered nine for its fleet for use in six states.

EVI-USA wants to put its electric vehicles to work in the U.S. and brought its eviLightTruck 1500 to the truck show in Chicago, where it swiftly attracted the attention of a network of 75 distributors in California, said Art Robins, the company's vice president for U.S. operations.

The model Class 3 fully electric vehicle at the show runs on lithium phosphate batteries developed by Valence Technology Inc., has a range of about 60 miles and is targeted for urban use. Without batteries, which can be leased, the trucks cost about $40,000 each. With federal tax incentives ranging from $7,500 to $15,000 per vehicle, plus state and local grants and incentives for EV and HEVs, the net cost pencils out to about $20,000, Robins said. Plus, he said, lower costs for operations and maintenance can save businesses an estimated additional $750 to $1,500 per vehicle each month.

"We affordable" Robins told GreenBiz. "We're here now and we're ready now. That's our motto."

EVI-USA can have its trucks ready to ship within 60 days, Robins said, contrasting delivery times of as much as two years away for some hybrid commercial vehicles in development.

The trucks, which are scalable and customizable, are available at gross vehicle weights of 10,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds and can be purchased as fully electric vehicles, or as a hybrid electric that runs on liquefied natural gas or compressed natural gas. EVA-USA also offers conversion services.

EVI specializes in manufacturing electric and hybrid trucks, trams and shuttle buses that are largely used off highway. About 1,000 are in Mexico, where users include beverage distributors and resorts, which have deployed various models for duties ranging from carting people, their golf clubs and other belongings to hauling away rubbish. Some of the models can viewed on an interactive chart at the firm's website for its Mexico operations.

The vehicles are popular in resorts and other tony locations because they operate with "no noise," Robins said, which is convenient when they're used for tasks generally associated with a lot of clatter, like garbage pickup.

EVI-USA is bringing its model to other shows in the coming weeks including the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ken., and the Faster Fleet Cleaner Air show in Long Beach, Calif.

In Georgia, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. said it is the first firm in its industry to use a Class 8 hybrid diesel electric truck in its fleet. The truck will serve the Honda parts center in Alpharetta, Ga. Built for Honda by Peterbilt Motors Company, the EPA Smartway(SM)-certified Model 386 hybrid truck is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 45 tons a year, the company said.

Honda is deploying the truck in a pilot that will last about a year and will use it on a hilly route in Tennessee and a relatively flat one in Georgia. It performance will be compared against that of a standard diesel truck.

The Peterbilt hybrid also features a parallel diesel-electric hybrid system developed by Eaton. Honda said it will also add a Peterbilt Class 7 medium duty hybrid truck to its fleets at a parts centers in Irving, Texas, and at the one in Alpharetta.

Image courtesy of EVI-USA