Hybrid Delivery Trucks Outperform Diesels

Score one for hybrid delivery trucks. In a yearlong cleantech cage match, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) put gasoline hybrid electric (gHEV) trucks up against conventional diesel vehicles. The winner in a rout: the gHEVs.

NREL’s Fleet Test and Evaluation Team said it collected and analyzed fuel economy, maintenance and other vehicle performance data on three gHEV trucks and three conventional diesel trucks used to make FedEx Express deliveries in Southern California.

gas-electric hybrid delivery trucks vs. diesel only, FedEx, NREL

image via NREL

“Based upon the data collected during this study,” the lab reported, “there was no statistically significant difference in fuel cost per mile or maintenance cost per mile between the gHEV and diesel groups.” And yet there was a difference in emissions – a big difference.

NREL measured these emissions, as well as fuel economy, on a chassis dynamometer at its labs in Colorado. It found that “tailpipe emissions from the gHEV were substantially lower across all three tested drive cycles than emissions from the diesel baseline.” Particulate matter was practically eliminated, while oxides were reduced between 57 and 89 percent.

The NREL also noted that  the “gHEVs experienced a smooth integration and deployment into commercial service. During the study period, the gHEVs performed as expected, experienced a minimum of unscheduled maintenance, and met the expectations of FedEx Express. “

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.