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Home > Feature Articles > Logistics and Vehicle Fleet Management > Trucking & Logistics for Efficiency, Fuel Savings, and Air Quality

EPA demonstrates hydraulic hybrid UPS delivery vehicle

Hydraulic hybrid vehicle achieves 60 – 70 percent better fuel economy, 40 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions

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What's the difference between hydraulic and electric hybrids?

Hydraulic Hybrids

  • Store energy in hydraulic accumulators
  • Use hydraulic pump-motors

Electric Hybrids

  • Store energy in batteries and/or ultra-capacitors
  • Use electric generator-motors

Hydraulic hybrid vehicle achieves 60 – 70 percent better fuel economy, 40 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has demonstrated its hydraulic hybrid UPS delivery vehicle at the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar, Calif. which, in laboratory tests, achieved a 60 – 70 percent improvement in fuel economy and 40 percent reduction in emissions over a conventional vehicle.

The unique UPS delivery vehicle features EPA-patented hydraulic hybrid technology. The vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in hybrid electric vehicles. Fuel economy is increased in three ways:

  • Vehicle braking energy is recovered that normally is wasted;
  • The engine is operated more efficiently;
  • The engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating.

"If every drayage truck and yard hostler in the ports adopted this technology, we could further reduce emissions by almost 50 percent," said Matt Haber, air division deputy director, of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. "Southern California residents breathe the dirtiest air in the country and we all have to do our part to clean the air.”

The vehicle was designed with the support of the UPS, Eaton Corporation – Fluid Power, International Truck and Engine Corporation, U.S. Army – National Automotive Center, and Morgan-Olson. FEV Engine Technology, Inc. and Southwest Research Institute provided support to build the vehicle under contract to EPA.

"Hydraulic hybrid technology is quite promising and we are excited to be evaluating it in a real-world setting," said Robert Hall, UPS's director of vehicle engineering. "We have led our industry in testing alternative fuel vehicles because fuel conservation is critical to our business. We believe the impact of this initiative will go far beyond our industry," said Hall.

"We are very encouraged by this demonstration of hydraulic-hybrid vehicle technology," said William Burke, Ed.D., chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Governing Board. "This is one of a portfolio of innovative, low-emission technologies that can offer significant clean air benefits to this region."

Trucks that operate in urban stop-and-go traffic – such as delivery vehicles - contribute significantly to pollution and fuel consumption. When built in high volume, the EPA expects that the vehicle operators will recoup hydraulic hybrids investment in 3 years, due to lower fuel consumption and less brake maintenance. Assuming a price of $2.75 per gallon of fuel, the net lifetime savings over the 20 year life of the vehicle would be over $50,000. As fuel prices continue to increase, lifetime savings would even be greater.

When commercialized in high volume, EPA estimates that the additional cost of hydraulic hybrid technology has the potential to be about $7,000 for the UPS package car. In today’s dollars, the net lifetime savings of this technology in a typical UPS truck, which is used for 20 years, would be over $50,000.

If fuel prices continue to increase faster than inflation, the lifetime savings would be even greater. The current data demonstrates that hydraulic hybrid vehicles have great potential not only for large commercial urban vehicles but also for personal vehicles, especially larger personal vehicles such as large SUVs, pickups, and vans.

By working to commercialize this innovative technology, we can reduce greenhouse gases, reduce US energy consumption, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The use of hydraulic hybrid vehicles can also contribute to reduced air pollution which results in a cleaner environment and healthier people.

For more information a video, feature story and video transcript are available at:

Hydraulic Hybrid - The Most Efficient Lowest Cost Hybrids

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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