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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

New Hydraulic Hybrid Trucks Roll Off

June 21, 2006

WASHINGTON – Recognize that familiar United Parcel Service truck with the trademark brown paint job? Look twice. The government released its model Wednesday, replete with a new hybrid hydraulic system built for the Environmental Protection Agency by Cleveland-based Eaton Corp.

“With this new system, I guess you can say brown is the new green,” said EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, standing in front of a UPS truck that will test the system on the streets of Detroit starting in August.

The new system replaces a truck’s transmission with hydraulics and that, combined with a low-emission diesel engine, yields a 60 percent to 70 percent saving on fuel use.

“We work on a lot of different hydraulic equipment for aerospace and this fits in very well,” said Ben Hoxie, Eaton’s engineering manager for the project.

For the EPA, the project was about making the most immediate impact on air standards and fuel economy after President Bush called for the country to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. Delivery trucks pile up the hours and miles with city driving, so they were among the most likely to benefit from a drivetrain that transfers the energy lost in braking into a series of fluid and air pumps that in turn power acceleration.

The EPA estimates it will take UPS less than three years to recover the $7,000 cost of outfitting each of its trucks with the new hydraulic system by saving money on fuel and reducing brake wear.

UPS will keep a close eye on drivability and maintenance issues during the Detroit test runs, but the truck already has a big fan in driver Dave Schuler, who took it for a spin in front of the EPA offices in Washington.

“You’d be surprised how it drives because it makes no noise,” he said. “You wouldn’t think it would have the power for a truck this size.”

Atlanta-based UPS partnered with the EPA; Eaton; International Truck and Engine Corp., UPS’ largest supplier; and the U.S. Army in February 2005 to develop a green fleet of low-emissions vehicles. Eaton started working with EPA in 2001 to develop the hydraulics. It’s already provided a similar system for the Army, which is watching the UPS tests to see if it can use the technology to increase by half the fuel economy in its Humvees.

“This is truly a hat trick: It’s good economic policy, good energy policy and good national security policy,” said Rep. Rahm Emmanuel, D-Ill., whose district is home to International Truck.

On the Net:

Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/technology/ 

Eaton Corp.: http://www.eaton.com

International Truck and Engine Corp.: http://www.internationaldelivers.com/site_layout/index.asp