The first two production Peterbilt hybrid-electric medium-duty trucks were delivered to VinLux Fine Wine Transport, a wine storage and expedited delivery business with a fleet of 35 delivery trucks operating throughout California. The Model 335 hybrids are going into service in the San Francisco region.

Operating in stop-and-go urban conditions, the company expects to see a 30 to 40% improvement in fuel economy, according to VinLux owner Fred Biagi. While the hybrid electric trucks carry a 40% price premium, Biagi estimates a 20- to 30-month payback based on fuel savings and tax incentives.

The hybrids, which are now available as the Class 6 Model 330 and Class 7 335, use a parallel hybrid system with a Paccar PX-6 diesel engine, an Eaton hybrid drive system with a 340V motor/generator, an Eaton UltraShift 6-spd. transmission, and two lithium ion batteries for electrical storage.

In addition to P&D applications, the new models are expected to see duty in utility field service applications. Dump truck applications may also be developed.

The medium-duty hybrids are just the beginning of Peterbilt's alternative power offerings, according to Bill Jackson, Peterbilt gm and Paccar vp. The company is working on a Class 8 Model 386 hybrid electric tractor for Wal-Mart. Now in testing and validation, the vehicle is expected to cut fuel use by 15%, both through improved over-the-road efficiency and by providing no-idle cooling, heating and electric hotel power, Jackson said at a press conference in Napa, CA. The company expects to begin production by the end of 2009.

Closer to production, a hydraulic hybrid Class 8 truck for refuse collection applications should be available before the end of the year, according to Jackson. Based on Pete's cabover Model 320, it compresses hydraulic fluid on vehicle deceleration and then uses that stored power for launch assistance. It features two operating modes that can improve productivity by 25% with faster launch speeds or fuel economy by a similar margin, according to Landon Sproull, Peterbilt chief engineer. It will improve brake life by 50% in that application, he said.

Peterbilt also plans to have two LNG-powered trucks in its lineup. Already in production, Sproull said, is the cabover Model 320 LNG powered by the Cummins Westport ISL G. Applications include municipal fleets and refuse collection.

The second LNG truck, the Class 8 Model 387, will get a 15-liter ISX G from Westport Innovations. Ready in 2009, it's intended for port container hauling applications.