How Long Will It Take to Convert the U.S. Fleet to Electric Cars?

How Long Will It Take to Convert the U.S. Fleet to Electric Cars?

Past Experience Doesn’t Make One Optimistic, But Times Are Changing.

Plug-in electric cars had record sales this past year, jumping 84 percent from the previous year’s sales and hitting almost 100,000 in sales. They’re selling better than hybrids did after their introduction more than a decade

chevy,volt,EV transition,future

100 years of progress, but it doesn’t happen quickly

ago. Optimists expect the trajectory to continue; pessimists point to the waning of incentives from government to offset the increased prices of EVs and the lack of automakers ability to continue the fire-sale tactics that dominated the 2013 market.

As is always the case at the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another, predictions for the future of new technologies abound. Some representative headlines:

  • Nissan announced it will have autonomous cars for sale in 2020.
  • Eight governors pledged to get 3.3 million more zero emission cars on the roads by 2025.
  • Three quarters of vehicles sold worldwide by 2035 will have autonomous features.
  • By 2022 there will be nearly 1.9 million natural gas-powered trucks and 1.9 million natural gas buses globally.

Presidential Predictions

But experience tells you to step back and take a breath when you read this kind of prognostication. President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union address called for the country to put a cumulative one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. In that total he included range-extended versions such as the Chevy Volt. Of course, it was not to be since that total was built on the expectation of GM selling 120,000 Volts a year in 2012 and  2013 (as well as 50,000 Leafs and 10,000 Ford Focus Electrics in 2013). Not to mention the expectation that the Fisker Nina would be produced and sold along with the Think City, Fisker Karma and Ford Transit EV. Of course it didn’t anticipate all of the plug-in cars that have some on the market in the past two years, but the cumulative numbers will be nowhere near the expected million.

It reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Ford On Fuel Cells

hyundai,tucson FCEV, fuel cell,

Hyundai steps up to retail its fuel cell cars this year

I found an interesting story and quote from less than 13 years ago. Bill Ford, then chairman (now executive chairman) of Ford Motor Company. “I believe fuel cells could end the 100-year reign of the internal combustion

engine.” He then predicted that Ford would offer fuel-cell-powered Focus by 2004.

Well, here we are a decade later and its Hyundai, not Ford, who is putting a fuel cell vehicle on sale (the Tucson FCEV goes on sale this spring at California dealerships). Of course Honda, Mercedes and GM have put limited numbers of fuel cell cars in consumers’ hands, but this is the start of the retailing of this technology.

 

FedEx’s Pledge & Reality

Another illustrative story comes from FedEx, a leader in adopting new technology. In 2004 they joined with the NGO Environmental Defense and Eaton Corporation pledging to replace its 30,000 medium-duty trucks

FedEx, alt fuel vehicles,electric delivery trucks

FedEx moves slower than expected

with hybrid trucks over the coming years to reduce both pollution and greenhouse gases. It seemed like a win-win with environmental advances also paying off in a better bottom line for FedEx because of increased efficiencies.

Well, again, here we are a decade later and FedEx has deployed 408 electric and hybrid (either gasoline-electric or diesel-electric) trucks.  The good news is FedEx’s leadership has led to another 1,400 hybrid delivery trucks hitting the roads with other companies. As FedEx acknowledged, government incentives will continue to play a critical role in rollout of advanced technology vehicles.

These Things Take Time

These things do take time. Wishful thinking won’t get us there. Government money can help, but ultimately it can only play a minor role if the goal is the transformation of a fleet. Cars and trucks that are better alternatives to gasoline ones in every way will be the only way to make it happen.  That’s the way gasoline won out over electricity and steam 100 years ago. That’s why diesel won out over gasoline in Europe 15 years ago. That’s why the Toyota Prius is the 10th best-selling car of 2013.

In spite of all of the predictions, 2014 could be one of those years where we see some real change. We at Clean Fleet Report will be here to chronicle it.

Honda,fuel cell,future car

What the future may hold

Story & Photos by Michael Coates

Posted January 3, 2014

Other related stories you might enjoy:

Top 10 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars of 2013

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Go On Sale in 2014

Cars and Technology of the Future

UPS Delivers with New Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles

UPS Delivers with New Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles

By John Addison. Millions of last minute shoppers used UPS to get their gifts delivered on time. The snow storms did not stop UPS. On December 22, I skipped the hour line at the post office, which was open on Sunday, instead shipping via UPS. I got my gifts to my brother by December 24.

Delivery giant UPS helps people drive less. UPS delivers over 16 million packages per day to over 200 countries. 70 percent of its volume is commercial; 30 percent residential. UPS operates nearly 100,000 ground vehicles, 600 airplanes, 3,000 facilities, and employs over 400,000 people. Teams of experts at UPS reduce the cost and fuel usage of moving millions of packages.

UPS began testing natural gas vehicles in 1989. At its peak, it had over 1,000 CNG delivery vehicles, achieving impressive reduction in particulate, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions. Today, however the natural gas fleet is slowly being replaced with more efficient vehicles fueled with ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD).

In addition to CNG, 11 LNG tractors operate in the UPS West Coast fleet, hauling more than 31,000 packages a day. Because of its density, LNG is a viable alternative fuel source for large trucks that need to go long distances before stopping to refuel. UPS owns over 11,000 tractor trailers

UPS first put a hybrid-electric delivery van into operation in 1998. Although UPS has experienced over a 40% improvement in fuel economy with 50 hybrid-electric delivery vehicles, a new type of hybrid may be even better.

UPS will deploy two new hydraulic hybrid vehicles (HHV) in Minneapolis during the first quarter of 2009. The additional five HHV’s will be deployed later in 2009 and early 2010. The Navistar delivery truck uses an Eaton hydraulic hybrid drive system with the diesel engine in series. The vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to capture and store energy, similar to what is done with electric moEaton Series Hydraulic Hybrid Drive Systemtors and batteries in a hybrid electric vehicle. The engine periodically recharges pressure in the hydraulic propulsion system. Fuel economy is increased in three ways: vehicle braking energy is recovered; the engine is operated more efficiently, and the engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating. Eaton Hybrid Systems

Eaton Series Hydraulic Hybrid Drive System

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. Eaton began working on hydraulic hybrid systems with the EPA in 2001. Eaton CEO Alexander Cutler stated, “The market for this technology is truly global, and it can provide significant improvements in fuel economy and emission reductions for trucks, buses and off-road vehicles of many shapes and sizes.” Eaton offers light-duty and medium-duty hydraulic hybrid systems, as well as a range of electric-hybrid drive systems. For example, Waste Management will use Eaton’s hydraulic system in 4 parallel-hybrid Peterbilt 320 waste collection trucks. Greencar Congress

Calstart, a leading non-profit group in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, has facilitated a number of government-private partnerships in developing heavy-duty hybrid vehicles. Calstart’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) selected Hybra-Drive Systems to build three large Class 6 trucks for road testing that incorporate the firm’s approach to the promising hydraulic hybrid technology. UPS, FedEx Ground and Purolator will each test one identical vehicle. Calstart News

In addition to the hydraulic hybrid, UPS has road-tested hydrogen fuel cell delivery trucks. UPS began deploying alternative fuel vehicles in the 1930’s with a fleet of electric trucks in New York City.

Since the 1930s, UPS has experimented with electric vehicles. It tested a plug-in hybrid van with vehicle-to-grid (V2G). UPS successfully used the energy stored in the vehicle to provide 80 percent of the electricity needed to power the local sorting facility’s conveyor system and lights. Today, UPS operates two full-size electric package cars in Manhattan, N.Y.

UPS also has two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in operation. UPS currently operates one Daimler Sprinter fuel cell van in Ontario, California and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Fueling in Michigan is at the EPA station at its national fuel emissions laboratory. In California, UPS gets its hydrogen from the station at the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Delivery fleets are excellent early adopters of clean vehicles. UPS, FedEx, the United States Postal Service, and others are finding that hybrid technology is excellent at capturing braking energy from the frequent stops made by delivery vehicles. Plug-in hybrid Sprinter vans are achieving over 100 miles per gallon.  These major carriers all have pilot programs using electric delivery vans and trucks can be parked.

Some of their parking facilities have solar roofs so that electricity can be sold to the local utility at peak day-time rates. Electricity can then be purchased at night, at far lower rates, for vehicle charging.

UPS emitted 7.47 million metric tons of CO2 in 2007; other GHG emissions not reported (jets are responsible for emission of other GHG in addition to CO2). Over 87 percent of CO2 gas emissions were from its transportation use, rather than stationary power. Jet fuel represents 46% of U.S. Package Operations energy use; diesel 37%. Airplanes demand tremendous amounts of petroleum processed fuel and are probably responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions for the delivery giant.

UPS total GHG emissions have grown each year with increased volume of packages. To reduce emission growth UPS continues to invest in hybrid vehicles and in the replacement of older planes with newer models of Boeing 747, 757, and 767. Even on the ground, planes have big carbon footprints. UPS is starting to reduce emissions by having planes taxi with only one engine running and by using electric hookups at loading docks to run auxiliary power. UPS 2007 Environmental Report

Large carriers are more energy efficient than most individuals and businesses at moving goods and handling logistics. Some deliver letters and packages with fewer emissions than others; use of airplanes is a big factor. A nonprofit group, Climate Counts, measures corporations on a number of factors including greenhouse gas emissions and their reductions. On a scale of 1 to 100, they ranked the four leading shippers: DHL 45, the United States Postal Service 43, UPS  39, and FedEx 28.

When we read about energy independence and reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions, passenger vehicles get most of the press. In fact, it is fleets that lead in testing and improving vehicle technology. UPS has been a leader since the 1930s.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His new book, Save Gas, Save the Planet, will be published March 25, 2009.

FedEx’s Absolutely, Positively, Cleaner Fleet

FedEx’s Absolutely, Positively, Cleaner Fleet

FedEx fleet

(3/4/08)

When something must absolutely, positively, arrive the next day, people increasingly turn to FedEx. Shipped is everything from million dollar loan documents to birthday presents. FedEx is also integral to the just-in-time supply chain that allows businesses to grow, even as they shrink inventory. FedEx generates over $35 billion annually.

FedEx uses 48,000 vehicles global to deliver our goods. Fed Ex probably utilizes another 30,000 vehicles at its airport operations. At the heart of FedEx operations is a hub-spoke private fleet of jets. Fed Ex has made Memphis, Tennessee, the busiest freight airport in the world.

I valued talking with FedEx Chief Engineer of Hybrid & Alt-Fuel Fleet, Sam Snyder, after he presented at the WestStart Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicle Conference. He discussed a number of areas of fuel savings. The volume and weight of an average package is now less. People are shipping more iPods; less big stereos. This allows FedEx to expand its deployment of Sprinter Vans, and reduce its need for the larger 16,000 pound (GVWR) vans. Sam Snyder stated that FedEx uses, “The right truck for the right route, saving millions of gallons of fuel.”

With oil topping $100 per barrel, FedEx is evaluating alt-fuel, and electric vehicles while continuing its investment in hybrids. FedEx hybrids have accumulated more than 2,000,000 miles in revenue service.95 diesel hybrids are in service globally, primarily in the U.S; 77 more hybrids will be added in 2008. The hybrids are an excellent investment with a 42% improvement in fuel economy.

FedEx is making a bigger investment in hybrids than its major competitor UPS.

An indicator of the future is the 48 FedEx E700 Eaton hybrids in New York. In Milan, ten Iveco, a Fiat Group company, diesel hybrids will be used in a van similar in size to the Sprinter; a Bosch electric motor and Johnson Controls batteries are used.

In May 2008, 20 Azure gasoline parallel hybrids (Ford E450 chassis and Utilimaster body) will be placed in service in LA and Sacramento. WestStart is managing this program.

Also being hybridized are the traditional FedEx 16,000 pound vans with a cargo capacity of approximately 670 cubic feet. Eaton’s hybrid electric system has been placed in the standard white FedEx Express W700 delivery truck, which utilizes a Freightliner chassis and an Utilimaster body, and designated E700.

FedEx would like to move towards more fuel-efficient 4-cylinder diesel hybrids, but it may not see an EPA certification until 2010 or later. Until then, FedEx may forge ahead with the less fuel-efficient 6-cylinder diesels. EPA continues to certify based on engine emissions, rather than more efficient hybrid duty cycle.

Hybrids are just one way that FedEx is becoming less oil dependent. Currently, FedEx Freight is actively testing hydrogen fuel cell forklifts, hybrid electric Class 7 trucks, and alternative fuels.

FedEx Express and FedEx Freight are members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership with fuel efficiency strategies such as:

* Instituting policies and technologies to reduce or prevent vehicle idling
* Locating FedEx facilities in order to eliminate idling from overnight trips
* Installation of tractor/trailer/van aerodynamic packages
* Use of advanced, low-friction synthetic oils and lubricants
* Introducing automatic tire inflation devices to increase fuel economy
* Introducing wide-based tires to increase fuel economy through reduced road friction

As one of the world’s largest private air carriers, FedEx is a major user of oil-refined jet fuel and a major emitter of greenhouse gases. To improve its carbon footprint, FedEx Express is replacing the B727 model aircrafts in its fleet with the Boeing 757 model. It has 20% greater payload capacity, but it also uses 36 percent less fuel. FedEx Express also plans to acquire Boeing 777 model aircraft, with a greater payload capacity, and 18% reduction in fuel use.

FedEx also saves annually over 5.5 million gallons of aviation fuel by using in-gate aircraft auxiliary power units, eliminating more than one hour of fuel usage per flight throughout the fleet.

FedEx is also taking a leading role in using renewable energy at its facilities. At the FedEx hub in Oakland, California, 80% of the facility’s electricity and is provided by a 904 kilowatt Sharp solar rooftop system that over its 25-year life cycle this plant will offset 10,800 tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of removing 2,100 cars from the road. Another 550kW will be added at its Fontana and Whittier facilities.

FedEx Kinko’s, Inc. purchases renewable energy at more than 520 branches in 26 states, for an estimated 69 million kWh per year. FedEx Kinko’s, Inc. is procuring its power from a wide variety of sources, including wind, geothermal, landfill gas, solar, and small hydro.

This year, Fed Ex was recognized as #6 on FORTUNE’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies and #7 on FORTUNE’s list of America’s Most Admired Companies. For the seventh consecutive year, Fed Ex has been part of this prestigious list. Fed Ex’s leadership in clean transportation helps keep it at the top.

PG&E’s Has Largest Natural Gas Fleet in United States

PG&E’s Has Largest Natural Gas Fleet in United States

By John Addison (8/15/07)

Years ago, you only had one choice for your telephone service – AT&T. Now you have a variety of choices from landline, wireless, cable, and Internet providers. Years ago, gasoline was your only fuel choice. Now you have a number of fuel and electric choices. In the future, your favorite provider may be your electric and gas utility.

PG&E – Pacific Gas and Electric – (NYSE: PCG) provides electricity and natural gas to over 5 million customers in California. With revenues exceeding $12 billion, PG&E has an opportunity to increase its services as we continue the shift from vehicles with gasoline engines to vehicles using electric propulsion and alternate fuels.

When I met with a number of PG&E managers, Sven Thesen traveled from his Palo Alto home via bicycle and train, leaving his personal plug-in hybrid at home. Another traveled from his Alameda home via bicycle and ferry. Others used low-emission CNG and hybrid vehicles. The people managing PG&E’s clean transportation programs practice what they preach.

This article looks how PG&E runs a clean fleet, new programs for customers, and the exciting future potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G).

Largest CNG Fleet in USA

PG&E Eaton Hybrid utility truckAs part of its larger environmental leadership strategy, PG&E owns and operates a clean fuel fleet of hybrid-electric and fuel cell vehicles, and more than 1,300 natural gas vehicles — the largest of its kind in the United States. PG&E’s clean fuel fleet consists of service and crew trucks, meter reader vehicles and pool cars that run either entirely on compressed natural gas or have bi-fuel capabilities. PG&E also has the largest fleet of Honda (HMC) Civic GX CNG cars.

Over the last 15 years, PG&E’s clean fuel fleet has displaced more than 3.4 million gallons of gasoline and diesel, and helped to avoid 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Most of PG&E’s fleet runs on diesel or gasoline. CNG vehicles are simply not available for all of the fleet’s diverse applications. Heavy vehicles require either liquid natural gas (LNG) or diesel to meet extended power and range demands. Most heavy vehicles, including PG&E’s, run on diesel.

For any utility, Class 6/7 service trucks often need to idle their large diesel engines for hours in order to run heavy lifts and other equipment. As new lines are installed, customers complain of the vehicle noise keeping them awake at night. The maintenance crew is often forced to stop and start the engine so that they can shout between the ground person and the one in the air. The hybrid truck is especially valuable in neighborhoods with noise restriction laws.

Last week, I reviewed PG&E’s new hybrid service truck which already had over 6,000 miles of operation. Efrain Ornelas demonstrated the heavy lift and other accessories operating electrically with the engine off. In service, the vehicle is reducing diesel fuel use 55% because of regenerative braking on road and engine-off electric operation during stationary work. The vehicle even included both 110 and 208V outlets for power tools.

At $3.00 per gallon for fuel, the potential savings ranges from $4,500 to $5,500 a year per vehicle. Each hybrid truck reduces greenhouse gas emissions an estimated two tons per year.

In addition to the dramatic diesel fuel savings, PG&E further reduces petroleum use and emissions by using B20 biodiesel. PG&E is increasing using B20 biodiesel with its entire diesel fleet.

“Hybrid-electric trucks are promising because of their potential to significantly reduce the use of petroleum-based fuel and help keep California’s air clean,” said Jill Egbert, manager, clean air transportation, PG&E. “We hope our involvement will lead to the accelerated development and mainstream acceptance of hybrids in our industry.”

PG&E is one of 14 utilities in the nation participating in the pilot truck program, sponsored by WestStart’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), a hybrid commercialization project bringing together truck fleet users, truck makers, technology companies, and the U.S. military, to field-test utility trucks with an integrated hybrid power-train solution.

This new Class 6/7 hybrid truck is built by International incorporating the Eaton (ETN) hybrid drive system with a 44kW electric motor. Eaton has produced more than 220 drive systems for medium and heavy hybrid-powered vehicles. Vehicle configurations include package delivery vans, medium-duty delivery trucks, beverage haulers, city buses and utility repair trucks – each of which has generated significant fuel economy gains and emission reductions.

Fleet customers for Eaton hybrid power have included FedEx Express, UPS, Coca-Cola Enterprises, The Pepsi Bottling Group, and the 14 public utility fleets into which were placed 24 hybrid-powered repair trucks.

Eaton employs a parallel hybrid diesel-electric with Eaton’s Fuller® UltraShift® automated transmission. It incorporates an electric motor/generator between the output of an automated clutch and input of the transmission. The system recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries. When electric torque is blended with engine torque, the stored energy is used to improve fuel economy and vehicle performance for a given speed or used to operate the vehicle with electric power only.

“The early results are very promising,” said Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president, WestStart. “While testing these trucks on a larger scale and over a longer period of time in this pilot program is a critical next step, we’re confident these vehicles are commercially viable and will deliver real value to customers.”

PG&E sees a similar opportunity to save with its Class 5 trouble trucks. For this truck, PG&E partnered with the Electric Power Research Institute and other utilities to conduct a plug-in hybrid pilot project for a Ford F550 Super Duty Field Response Truck. PG&E currently has 350 Field Response Trucks on the road.

Cleaner Electricity

Some people are concerned that a shift to electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will not reduce global warming. These people point to coal power plants producing electricity that goes into the vehicles. Because electric drive systems are typically 300% more efficient than gasoline engines, major emission reductions are achieved even from coal generated electricity.

PG&E provides much greater benefit, because it is eliminating coal power from its power mix. As a customer, my latest PG&E bill showed a reduction of coal from 38 to 2% of the power mix. In 2007, energy from RPS-eligible renewables is increasing to 12% of the delivered power mix, from 5% in 2005. Natural gas is 43%, nuclear 23%, and large hydroelectric is 17%.

By 2010, 20% of PG&E delivered electricity will be from clean renewable energy. A big part of the increase will be 553 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) from a new Solel project. When fully operational in 2011, the Mojave Solar Park plant will cover up to 6,000 acres, or nine square miles in the Mojave Desert. The project will rely on 1.2 million mirrors and 317 miles of vacuum tubing to capture the desert sun’s heat. It will be the largest CSP project in the world. Solel utilizes parabolic mirrors to concentrate solar energy ontosolar thermal receivers. The receivers contain a fluid that is heated and circulated, and the heat is released to generate steam. The steam powers a turbine to produce electricity.

PG&E is also expanding its use of wind, geothermal, large solar PV, and biomass energy.

Natural Gas and Hydrogen Stations

PG&E owns and operates 34 compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, for its own fleet and more than 200 commercial and private fleets. This includes transit districts, private refuse haulers, school districts, municipalities, air/seaports, and other miscellaneous operators including taxi, package delivery, military, and private fleets. PG&E Clean Air Transportation Program

In addition, construction of a hydrogen fueling station in San Carlos, California is scheduled to begin. GTI will serve as a partner on the project, providing a mobile hydrogen unit (MHU) that uses GTI’s patented reformer technology. This self-contained unit will produce hydrogen from natural gas. The hydrogen fueling station will be co-located with a publicly accessible compressed natural gas station to allow for 24/7 availability. Once sufficient demand is established, the MHU can be replaced with permanent facilities, and the unit can then be relocated to expand the network.

PG&E makes daily use of three Mercedes hydrogen fuel cell (F-Cell) vehicles. A variety of PG&E employees drive the vehicles including, fleet mechanics, inspectors, service planning representatives, project managers and officers.

Sven Thesen at PG&E demonstrated spinning the meter backwards with their plug-in hybrid Prius with V2G.Vehicle-to-Grid

A compelling idea for the future is to charge electric vehicles at night when electricity is cheap, and then buy the electricity from vehicles during peak hours. Some electric vehicles store enough electricity to power 50 homes. Sven Thesen at PG&E demonstrated spinning the meter backwards with their plug-in hybrid Prius with V2G. The Prius included a 9kWh plug-in kit from EnergyCS using Li-Ion batteries. A Sonny Boy power inverter, common in solar power installations, was used.

Today, utilities are powering vehicles with electricity, natural gas and hydrogen. In a few years, electric vehicles will also power homes with vehicle-to-home (V2H). Large batteries and fuel cells provide many times the electricity demand of a home. In a few more years, smart grids and intelligent power management will allow peak electricity demands to be met by utilities buying power from vehicles with vehicle-to-grid (V2G). U.C. Davis and PG&E have demonstrated V2H and V2G already.

With smart grid technology, customers could simply plug-in their vehicles to 110 volt outlets. At idle low-cost hours the vehicle would be timed to recharge. At peak hours, customers could agree to let the utility buy electricity at premium rates. In the future, expensive and polluting stand-by peaking generators could be eliminated with smart grid technology and V2G.

Leading the way to clean electricity and cleaner transportation are corporations like PG&E. In their own fleet they are proving that alt-fuels and electric drive systems can save money and emissions. As the technologies are proven, PG&E gives customers new ways to secure clean fuels and electric power.

Walmart May Save $300 Million with Fleet Efficiency

Walmart May Save $300 Million with Fleet Efficiency

Peterbilt 386 hybrid(Updated 8/4/09; Original 3/20/07). Walmart operates 7,000 trucks that in 2005 drove 872 million miles to make 900,000 deliveries to its 6,600 stores. Wal-Mart has set a goal of doubling the fleet efficiency by 2015 from a 2005 baseline.

Wal-Mart operates the nation’s second largest private fleet. Wal-Mart is also famous for being operationally efficient. Every large fleet and logistics operator hopes to save millions by learning from Wal-Mart’s new initiatives. Wal-Mart has hundreds of hybrid passenger vehicles. Now Wal-Mart sees bigger potential savings in heavy-duty Class 8 trucks.

Wal-Mart uses a three-phase new technology deployment process, to test and pilot promising technologies, and then deploy the technologies that make economic and environmental sense.

Experiment:

  • In partnership with Arvin Meritor, Wal-Mart is testing a first of its kind, full-propulsion, dual-mode, diesel-electric hybrid in the Detroit area. The truck is powered solely by battery at speeds of less than 48 mph and is currently on the test track.
  • In Phoenix, Arizona, fifteen trucks are being retrofitted to run on reclaimed brown waste cooking grease from Walmart stores and will be the first of their kind.

Pilot:

  • Working with Eaton Corp, Wal-Mart has five diesel assist hybrid trucks in-market now. The trucks are pulling loads in Texas, California, Georgia, and Maryland.
  • In Southern California, five class 8 Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) trucks are hauling loads.

Deploy:

  • Walmart accelerates investments in trucking fleet efficient technologies across all new trucks:
    • Engine calibration and installing Auxiliary Power Units (APUs).
    • Addition of five-hundred new aerodynamic trucks to our fleet.
    • Trailer side skirts, Super single tires, Aerodynamic tractor package, and Tag axles.

Wal-Mart is defying the conventional wisdom that hybrid technology is of little help for large trucks that already have efficient diesel engines. Wal-Mart delivers goods from regional warehouses on an optimized route to its stores. Routes often involve heavy stop-go city driving. With hybrid technology, every touch of the brakes causes energy to be captured. Where trucks previously idled with engines running, hybrids can run all auxiliary power with the engine off, using large battery stacks for the electricity.

The Eaton heavy-duty hybrid system with idle reduction features an automated manual transmission with a parallel-type direct hybrid system, incorporating a 44 kW electric motor/generator located between the output of an automated clutch and the input to Eaton’s Fuller UltraShift transmission.

The system captures energy generated by the diesel engine and recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries. That electric torque is then sent through the motor/generator and blended with engine torque to improve vehicle performance, operate the engine in a more fuel-efficient range for a given speed and/or operate only with electric power in certain situations.

The system’s batteries power the heating, air conditioning and vehicle electrical systems while the engine is off. When the idle reduction mode is active, engine operation is limited to battery charging, an automatically controlled process that takes approximately five minutes per hour to fully charge the system. With a successful test and evaluation program, the heavy-duty hybrid electric power system will be available in 2009.

Wal-Mart Transportation is also evaluating an ArvinMeritor hybrid dual-mode diesel-electric tractor prototype. It will be based on an International Class 8 ProStar tractor and powered by a Cummins engine. ArvinMeritor will provide the tandem axle, regenerative braking system, air disc brakes and advanced ABS with integrated stability control and driver assistance systems, software, electronic controls, transfer case, motors, as well as the battery power.

“ArvinMeritor is a leader in all areas of drivetrain and brake system development for heavy-duty commercial vehicles and is an ideal partner for Wal-Mart for the development of these dual-mode diesel-electric systems,” said Tim Yatsko, Senior Vice President of Transportation for Wal-Mart.

A big loss for Wal-Mart and all long distance truckers is that engines are left running at stops for many auxiliary needs including air conditioning, heating, running electronics inside the cab and more. Not waiting for the implementation of hybrid drive systems, Wal-Mart installed auxiliary power units on new trucks.

Wal-Mart worked with the Rocky Mountain Institute to introduce new trucks with many energy saving improvements including better aerodynamics, transmissions and tires. Wind skirts under the trailer significantly reduced wind resistance and improved mileage. Wal-Mart combined the two wheels normally seen on a rear axle into a single wheel that is not quite as wide as the sum of two wheels. This gives a smoother ride and better fuel economy from the reduced surface area and improved tire wall stiffness. Wal-Mart is also disciplined about keeping tires properly inflated.

Wal-Mart saves diesel fuel both with vehicle technology and common sense. By working with its suppliers, Wal-Mart is fitting more goods in smaller and lighter packaging. More goods move in a truck without adding weight. Fuel is saved.

Fleet efficiency is just part of part of Wal-Mart’s sustainability strategy.