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Delivery Trucks go hybrid

A huge ‘tolerable’ in the package-delivery truck business is the outcome of their stop-and-start operations. Fumes, energy inefficiency and attendant environmental damage all have traditionally been tolerated because there was no viable alternative. Federal Express has seen the opportunity to eliminate these tolerables by implementing hybrid technology. The technology uses an emission-free electric battery instead of gasoline or diesel fuel. What’s interesting here is that electric batteries in traditional trucking are not at this stage useful because they don’t allow the vehicle to accelerate quickly.In package delivery, however, what’s needed instead is relatively slow-speed operations. Moreover, the hybrids allow the energy created in applying the brakes to even more electric power that can be used in the next cycle. According to an article in Fortune (July 25, 2005) a typical FedEx truck makes 100 stops a day and travels 1,500 miles per month. The trucks using the new system are reported to gain 42% to 56% better mileage, and to dramatically reduce exhaust emissions, a big deal in urban environments. The opportunity is huge — Fortune reports that between 120,000 and 140,000 trucks are produced every year in North America alone, let alone the rest of the world where emissions are an even bigger issue than in the States.

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