Editor’s note: John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His new book, Save Gas, Save the Planet, will be published March 25, 2009.
UPS will deploy two new hydraulic hybrid vehicles (HHV) in Minneapolis during the first quarter of 2009. The additional five HHV’s will be deployed later in 2009 and early 2010.
Millions of last minute shoppers used UPS to get their gifts delivered on time. Even the snow storms did not stop them. On December 22, I skipped the hour long line at the post office, which was open on Sunday, and instead shipped via UPS. I got my gifts to my brother on December 24.
UPS first put a hybrid-electric delivery van into operation in 1998. Although UPS has experienced over a 40% improvement in fuel economy with 50 hybrid-electric delivery vehicles, a new type of hybrid may be even better.
The Navistar delivery truck uses an Eaton hydraulic hybrid drive system with the diesel engine in series. The vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to capture and store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in a hybrid electric vehicle. The engine periodically recharges pressure in the hydraulic propulsion system. Fuel economy is increased in three ways: vehicle braking energy is recovered; the engine is operated more efficiently, and the engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating. (Eaton Hybrid Systems)
The EPA estimates that when manufactured in high volume, the added costs of the hybrid components can be recouped in less than three years through lower fuel and brake maintenance costs. Eaton began working on hydraulic hybrid systems with the EPA in 2001. Eaton CEO Alexander Cutler stated, “The market for this technology is truly global, and it can provide significant improvements in fuel economy and emission reductions for trucks, buses and off-road vehicles of many shapes and sizes.”
Since the 1930s, UPS has experimented with electric vehicles. It tested a plug-in hybrid van with vehicle-to-grid (V2G). UPS successfully used the energy stored in the vehicle to provide 80 percent of the electricity needed to power the local sorting facility’s conveyor system and lights. Today, UPS operates two full-size electric package cars in Manhattan, N.Y.
Delivery fleets are excellent early adopters of clean vehicles. UPS, FedEx, the United States Postal Service, and others are finding that hybrid technology is excellent at capturing braking energy from the frequent stops made by delivery vehicles. Plug-in hybrid Sprinter vans are achieving over 100 miles per gallon. These major carriers all have pilot programs using electric delivery vans and trucks can be parked.
UPS emitted 7.47 million metric tons of CO2 in 2007; other GHG emissions not reported (jets are responsible for emission of other GHG in addition to CO2). Over 87 percent of CO2 gas emissions were from its transportation use, rather than stationary power. Jet fuel represents 46% of U.S. Package Operations energy use; diesel 37%. Airplanes demand tremendous amounts of petroleum processed fuel and are probably responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions for the delivery giant.
When we read about energy independence and reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions, passenger vehicles get most of the press. In fact, it is fleets that lead in testing and improving vehicle technology. UPS has been a leader since the 1930s.