News Release: Energy Lab to Evaluate Performance of UPS Hybrid-Electric Vans

Aug. 23, 2007 | By George Douglas | Contact media relations

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is collecting and analyzing maintenance, fuel economy and other vehicle performance data  from 50 UPS hybrid diesel step delivery vans powered by an Eaton Corp. electric hybrid propulsion system.

Funded by the DOE's Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA), NREL's Fleet Test & Evaluation (FT&E) team is performing a 12-month evaluation of some of these 50 hybrid vans at  UPS locations in Dallas and Phoenix.

As part of a year-long demonstration project that started this month, the FT&E team will collect and analyze maintenance, fuel-economy and other vehicle performance data on the vans, which are being used in delivery service. The diesel hybrid delivery vans are expected to improve UPS fleet fuel economy and dramatically decrease vehicle emissions, while maintaining the same reliability and overall performance as conventional vehicles. NREL will publish its findings in fall 2008.

Robert Hall, UPS director of maintenance and engineering, hopes the evaluation will speed up market acceptance of hybrid diesel systems.

 “By capturing and publishing vehicle performance data, NREL can help UPS make this type of energy-saving system a standard in the industry.”

Eaton Corp. provided the hybrid propulsion systems for the vehicles, which were manufactured by Workhorse Custom Chassis and Freightliner Corp. The hybrid system employs an Eaton automated transmission, an integrated motor/generator and advanced lithium ion batteries. The Freightliner model has a Mercedes-Benz MBE 904 four-cylinder diesel engine, while the Workhorse model features an International VT-275 six-cylinder diesel.

The Eaton hybrid system was developed in part under a $7.5 million, 33-month contract from DOE’s Advanced Heavy Hybrid Propulsion System program.

 “Having helped fund the development of the Eaton system, DOE is eager to help test it in real-world applications and share the performance data with other potential users,” Lee Slezak, DOE's AVTA program manager, said. “Our goal is to help develop more efficient advanced vehicle technologies that are widely accepted as being as reliable and cost effective as conventional technologies.”

The evaluation of UPS’ new diesel hybrid vans follows a 2002 UPS/DOE demonstration of 13 compressed natural gas delivery vehicles in UPS’ Hartford, Conn., fleet. NREL’s FT&E team also provided direction and analysis on that project. 

UPS, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, is the world's largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. For more information on UPS, contact Lynnette McIntire 404-828-7895.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.