Atlanta, Georgia – United Parcel Service (UPS) has announced its first purchases of a little-known technology, the hydraulic hybrid vehicle (HHV), that promises dramatic fuel savings and environmental benefits. The purchase of seven vehicles is part of a public-private partnership to increase the commercial availability and use of alternative fuel vehicles.
The technology, originally developed in a federal laboratory of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stores energy by compressing hydraulic fluid under pressure in a large chamber. UPS was the only company in its industry asked to road-test the technology two years ago, and now becomes the first delivery company to place an order for HHVs.
“There is no question that hydraulic hybrids, although little known to the public, are ready for prime time use on the streets of America,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer. “We are not declaring hydraulic hybrids a panacea for our energy woes, but this technology certainly is as promising as anything we’ve seen to date.”
The UPS/EPA testing results showed a 45 to 50 per cent improvement in fuel economy, when compared to conventional diesel delivery trucks. UPS believes similar fuel economy improvements and a 30 per cent reduction in CO2 are achievable in daily, real-world use. The EPA believes the technology can perform equally well in other applications, such as shuttle and transit buses, and garbage trucks.
UPS will deploy the first two HHVs in Minneapolis during the first quarter of 2009. Eaton, which helped develop and refine the power system, will monitor the vehicles’ fuel economy performance and emissions. The additional five HHVs will be deployed later in 2009, and in early 2010.
The vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to capture and store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in a hybrid electric vehicle. In this case, the diesel engine is used to periodically recharge pressure in the hydraulic propulsion system. Vehicle braking energy otherwise wasted is recovered, the engine operates more efficiently, and the engine can be shut off when stopping or decelerating. The EPA estimates that when manufactured in high volume, the added costs of the hybrid components can be recouped in less than three years, through lower fuel and brake maintenance costs.