New York City turns others 'green' with envy

Kenworth hybrids help lower emissions and save fuel.

It's the city that never sleeps, but when managers for New York City's department of sanitation, parks department, and DOT do, they often dream of ways to improve fleet fuel economy while lowering overall emissions.

According to Spiro Kattan, supervisor of mechanics for the New York City Department of Sanitation, the city has been a forward thinker in the use of hybrid vehicles and trucks since their inception. "Being known in the industry as early adopters, we get to use and test cutting-edge technology," he said. "We'll also be the pilot test bed for many vehicles. This allows us to prove out technology and see first hand what will work best for the city.

Rocco DiRico (the department's deputy commissioner of support services) has been a driving force – challenging manufacturers – and those manufacturers, including Kenworth, have stepped up to the challenge."

The city's sanitation department began running hybrid Kenworth T370s in 2009, and currently has nine in use as rack trucks, delivering parts to five borough repair shops. Five other Kenworth T370 hybrids are used as delivery trucks – shuttling tires to different service locations.

The Kenworth T370 hybrids, purchased through Gabrielli Kenworth, feature the PACCAR PX-6 engine rated at 240 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque, and the Eaton diesel-electric hybrid power system. The system uses an integral transmission-mounted motor/generator; frame-mounted 340-volt, lithium-ion battery pack; and dedicated power management system. Electricity generated through regenerative braking is stored and used for acceleration, assisting the diesel engine. The hybrid system is monitored through an in-dash display. As the power requirements for different driving conditions change, the screen constantly updates the driver on system status.

"We're seeing up to a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy over non-hybrid delivery trucks," said Kattan. "And, the cost of maintenance is pretty close to what we have with our other trucks. We, of course, paid a premium for the hybrids, but they are paying us back by lowering our fuel consumption. And, that also goes into lowering our carbon footprint."

According to Kattan, lowering emissions is the biggest benefit to New York. "In 2007, Mayor (Michael R.) Bloomberg announced a mandate to cut carbon dioxide by 30 percent by the year 2017," he said. "We're on track to do just that. Our fleet of passenger cars and light trucks/SUVs are nearly 40 percent hybrid. And we're looking into hybrid-electric technology for our street sweepers – joining our rear loaders (garbage trucks). As for our medium-duty fleet, we've been using Kenworth hybrids in applications where stop-and-go work is necessary. That's been the best application to get better fuel economy."

Within NYC Parks, 74 percent of its vehicles are on some sort of alternative fuel. "We're running bio-diesel, have some equipment that is solar-powered, and we're using 17 Kenworth T370 hybrids – eight have rack bodies with lift gates, and the rest feature 5-yard dump bodies," said Jonathan Ells, chief of staff for citywide operations.

With over 29,000 acres, divided up among 1,700 parks and more than 500 ball fields, New York City has the largest parks department in the country. The hybrid dump trucks haul dirt, sand and clay to ball fields; they're also used for general assignment work. The T370s with rack bodies are do-all vehicles and support a wide range of park activities – from skilled trades to general maintenance.

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