NAPA, CA. The first two production Peterbilt hybrid electric medium duty trucks were delivered today to VinLux Fine Wine Transport, a wine storage and expedited delivery business with a fleet of 35 delivery trucks operating throughout California. The two Peterbilt Model 335 hybrids are going into daily 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 federal tax incentives. Any new trucks added to the fleet in the future will also be hybrids, he said.

The Peterbilt medium-duty 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 like VinLux, the new production models are expected to see duty in utility field service applications where the stored electrical power can be used to run booms and other PTO equipment without idling the diesel engine. Dump truck applications may also be developed.

The medium-duty hybrids are just the beginning of Peterbilt alternative power offerings, according to Bill Jackson, Peterbilt general manager and Paccar VP. The company is currently working on a Class 8 Model 386 hybrid electric tractor for WalMart’s private fleet. 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. The company expects to begin production of the heavy-duty hybrid 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 either improve productivity by 25% with faster launch speeds or fuel economy by a similar margin, according to Landon Sproull, Peterbilt chief engineer. It will also improve brake life by 50% in that application, he said.

In addition to it hybrids, Peterbilt plans on having two LNG-powered trucks in its product lineup. The cabover Model 320 LNG is powered by the Cummins Westport ISL G and is already in production, Sproull said. Applications include municipal service fleets and refuse collection.

The second LNG truck, the conventional Class 8 Model 387 will get a 15-liter ISX G from Westport Innovations. Available next year, it’s intended for port container hauling applications, especially in the California region.

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