Challenges to the adoption of hybrid vehicles continues


Fleets considering adding hybrid, electric and high efficiency vehicles to their fleets face a number of obstacles, with the main one being cost.

This was the topic of discussion for the HTUF 2011 National Conference & Expo’s Leadership Panel.

HTUF (Hybrid, Electric and High Efficiency Truck Users Forum) is a national, multi-year, user-driven program to speed the commercialization of medium and heavy duty hybrid and high-efficiency technologies.

It is operated by CALSTART - the leading catalyst organization for the global clean transportation technology industry, in partnership with the U.S. Army National Automotive Center (NAC).

The HTUF 2011 National Conference & Expo took place last week in Baltimore, MD.

Despite the significant costs involved, UPS has invested in hybrid, electric and high efficiency vehicles to help assure there are good truck solutions for the future, said panelist Michael Hance, vice president, automotive engineering and operations for UPS.

Moreover, he said UPS is committed to operational savings, sustainability and reducing trucking’s carbon footprint. The company has a goal of improving fuel economy by 20 percent by 2020.

Hance acknowledged that while there is not now a good ROI on hybrid, electric and high efficiency vehicles, if these vehicles are specifically tailored for the intended application and operation, there will be advantages and benefits.

Fleets need to step up and purchase these vehicles so the trucking industry and truck OEMs can get more experience with the vehicles to help drive their evolution, said Dr. Mike Mekhiche, director of programs, Power & Energy Management, BAE System, who also participated in the HTUF2011 Leadership Panel.

He said more grants and incentives are needed to help fleets make the capital investment, and vehicle and component suppliers need to lower costs so vehicle are more affordable.

All of the panelists agreed that fleets need to look long-term when it comes to hybrid, electric and high efficiency vehicles, and noted that it would be “irresponsible to not adopt” new appropriate technology.

They stressed that selecting the right vehicle for the particular duty cycle and application makes all the difference.