GOLDEN, CO – Funded by the DOE’s Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity (AVTA), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Fleet Test & Evaluation (FT&E) team is performing a 12-month evaluation of 50 diesel hybrid delivery 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 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, says. “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.