New Autocar Xpeditor E3 refuse vehicles were delivered to three communities in Florida recently. What made these vehicles so unique, though, is that they represent the first delivery of refuse vehicles using Parker Hannifin’s RunWise advanced series hybrid drive system.

The system dramatically reduces fuel usage and lowers emissions. During testing, the trucks achieved between 30 and 50% fuel savings, according to Parker. Emissions reductions measure as much as 38 tons per year.

“We have spent many years advancing our unique hydraulic hybrid technology and adapting it for use across a number of vehicle platforms,” said Jeff Cullman, group president-hydraulics, for Parker Hannifin. “These deliveries, in partnership with our customer Autocar, represent the first commercial use of this technology and we commend the City of Miami, the City of Hialeah, and Miami-Dade County for the pioneering role they are playing in reducing the costs of operating their refuse collection fleet and for their efforts to go green for the benefit of their communities.”

The three communities purchased a total of 11 vehicles from Autocar after successful testing last year.

RunWise technology integrates mechanical and hydraulic drive elements into a three-speed transmission optimized for efficiency at all speeds, Parker said. Shifting is automatic. The series hybrid drive system recovers more than 70% of braking energy normally lost. The more the vehicle stops, the more energy that is recovered.

A standard friction braking system uses pressurized hydraulic fluid to decelerate the vehicle while recovering that energy. The stored energy is then used to launch the vehicle.

“Our partnership with Parker Hannifin makes us the first municipal solid waste agency in the United States to use this unique hybrid technology in our waste collection vehicles,” said Kathleen Woods-Richardson, director-Dept. of Solid Waste Management. “This will allow us to do our part to help make Miami-Dade as green and environmentally friendly as possible.”

The system also improves brake life by as much as eight times depending on the duty cycle, Parker said. During testing, Hialeah studied brake wear and found the replacement cycle for brakes was 102 weeks vs. 12 weeks for a conventionally powered vehicle.

The hybrid drive system is in limited production this year and slated for full production in 2011.