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Subcommittee Supports and Reviews Hybrid Technologies for Medium- to Heavy-Duty Commercial Trucks

Jun 10, 2008
Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Science and Technology’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the state of developing hybrid technologies for medium- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles applications. Specifically, Subcommittee Members reviewed industry partnerships and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) support in R&D of these systems and draft legislation.

“Skyrocketing costs of fuels have had a devastating impact on America’s truckers by driving up the cost of business, which we all pay for at the supermarket,” said Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX). “Heavy commercial trucks are pervasive throughout our economy.  From school buses to trash collectors, utility trucks to delivery vans, long-haul tractor trailers to road work equipment, one would be hard pressed to identify an aspect of our daily life that did not intersect with medium- to heavy-duty trucks. Developing technology to increase their fuel economy will lower prices for consumers on everything from groceries to medicine to children’s toys.”

Witnesses testified about the considerable potential of hybrid systems in heavy-duty trucks to save energy and reduce emissions, the range of technologies and applications in the field, their experience with the federal agency research programs, and the major technical and market barriers for deploying these technologies. 

In addition to generating less noise, reducing maintenance requirements, and allowing vehicles to run longer between fuelings, hybrid systems offer significant potential economic and environmental benefits. According to the Oshkosh Truck Corporation’s figures, the fuel consumption of the 90,000 refuse collection truck in the U.S. is equivalent to 2.5 million passenger vehicles. The Eaton Corporation estimates that as few as 10,000 hybrid electric trucks would reduce diesel fuel usage by 7.2 million gallons per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 83,000 tons.

Through the 21st Century Truck Partnership the Departments of Energy, Defense, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency provide funding to conduct R&D through public-private efforts with the trucking industry. Despite the significant potential benefits of hybrid trucks, the Administration decided to shift the focus to passenger vehicles.

“There is a larger market for hybrids beyond the family automobile. Reducing fuel costs and meeting environmental regulations is vital to the bottom line of any company that relies on heavy trucks. We should ensure that federal research and development programs continue to address the need to improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles,” said Lampson.

Members and witnesses reviewed Rep. James Sensenbrenner’s draft legislation which would accelerate plug-in hybrid research in trucks by establishing 5 grants for manufactures to build, test, and eventually sell plug-in hybrid utility and delivery trucks. This legislation would encourage the DOE to expand its research in advanced energy storage technologies to include hybrid trucks as well as passenger vehicles.

Subcommittee Members heard testimony from the following:

  • Mr. Terry Penney, Technology Manager, Advanced Vehicle and Fuel Technologies, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Mr. Eric M. Smith, Chief Engineer, Hybrid Medium Duty Truck, Eaton Corporation
  • Mr. Joseph Dalum, Vice President, Dueco Inc.
  • Ms. Jill Egbert, Manager, Clean Air Transportation, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) 
  • Mr. Richard Parish, Senior Program Manager, Calstart Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF)

For more information on this hearing including witness testimony, visit the Committee’s website.

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110.270

110th Congress