November 2008, Work Truck - Feature
New Work Engines of Tomorrow
Hybrids Under Investigation
Adding hybrids to a fleet does present challenges. First, you will notice higher capital costs, up to as much as $40,000-$50,000. A comprehensive return on investment (ROI) is required to ensure the extra costs make sense for your business and to determine how long it will take to overcome the additional costs. How the truck will be remarketed is another factor.
The good news is found in tax credits and grants that help to reduce the initial costs. The West Coast Collaborative reports, "for fiscal-year 2008, Congress appropriated funds for the first time under the Energy Policy Act (2005) to help reduce emissions from heavy-duty diesel engines."
Another important consideration is to determine if hybrids allow maximum utilization of fleet equipment, for example:
- Does the hybrid upfit reduce or even eliminate a truck’s operational effectiveness?
- Will payload need to be reduced?
- Will other upfitted equipment still fit correctly on the chassis?
A consideration often overlooked is training required of drivers. Driving techniques differ little from conventional trucks, but the driver’s reluctance to accept a hybrid vehicle may be based on concern for safety. Drivers will require training on vehicle start-up, braking, acceleration, and ePTO use for upfitted equipment.
Zero-Emission Truck Availability Growing
Total-electric, zero-emission trucks are in the production pipeline and continuing to grow in popularity. Electric truck manufacturers are aligning with OEM truck dealerships for sales and service support. In addition, warranty support is available.
Platforms used by electric truck manufacturers vary. Some models include current truck manufacturer chassis, while others are new proprietary platforms.
PHEVs up to 18,000-lbs. GVWR are available and work best in city pick-up and delivery operations. An 100-mile plus operating range is attainable. However, additional towing expense can be expected due to drivers exceeding vehicle operating ranges.