Low Cost Idle-off Alternative to Hybrid Truck

Heavy Duty Hybrid TruckBy Tom Bartley (52/11)

Do you have work trucks idling for power take offs? You don’t want to pay the price for a full hybrid truck? Add-on battery conversions for new and older work vehicles are available for a fraction of full hybrid cost. 4+ hours of work can be done without fear of killing your battery. The controls always maintain a minimum charge level and the engine can be run for short periods to charge the battery to finish the work.

At today’s clean vehicle add-on to SDG&E’s 6th Annual Energy Showcase there was the new SDG&E Nissan Leaf and several energy efficient trucks ranging from a Silverado plug-in hybrid, a Boulder BEV delivery truck, an Azure E450 HEV cutaway shuttle bus, an Odyne/International hybrid bucket truck, to a 57,000 lb GVWR CNG hydraulic hybrid refuse truck. The HEVs and BEVs can double the cost of the vehicle.

Fleets may not be able to justify the cost of a new hybrid truck. How about a plug-in battery pack for doing the work that is now done by an idling engine? It’s easy for a utility bucket truck to spend 40% of its fuel to support the power take-offs while parked. By using a plug-in battery pack you pay utility electric rates while charging during off peak hours. An idling truck can easily cost over $8 / hour.  The cost of the kWh used over the same period will probably be less than $1.

The real advantage to an idle-off utility bucket truck is that it’s quiet and the work crew can talk to each other much easier.

Energy Xtreme has an easy conversion battery pack to fit police cars up to a heavy-duty Altec or Terex bucket truck. While most of the HEVs are going to Li ion batteries, Energy Xtreme uses a type of “hybrid battery” that has enough charge/discharge cycles to last the life of the truck. The price is significantly less than a full hybrid, thus, offering a much quicker pay back period.

Terex had a bucket truck at the event with about 12 kWh of lead acid AGM batteries and Energy Xtreme had a small 4 kWh supply for both 110 VAC and 12 VDC mounted on a utility paint truck.

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About Author: Tom Bartley

Tom Bartley is an expert about vehicles, drive systems, and energy storage. Tom Bartley has a BSEE and MSEE from Stanford University. He is a life member of the IEEE and a member of SAE. He is a director on the board of the San Diego Clean Fuel Coalition and is working with Transpower of the development of heavy-duty electric drive systems.

One thought on “Low Cost Idle-off Alternative to Hybrid Truck

  1. Jas
    May 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    this is a great option for utility workers with bucket trucks and the like. fleet managers can monitor that its been fully utilized by staff using some fleet management software to monitor excessive idle times, to make sure crews are not using the main engine to power the equipment.

    a lot of trucks have a dedicated pony motor for this kind of work but an electric alternative is a good idea

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