Hybrid on the Hill Features Diesel-Electric Hybrid Techology

Hybrid Mack Truck

Last week, the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) of CALSTART hosted a “Hybrid on the Hill” day where they showcased new truck technologies. Mack Trucks, Inc. participated in the event and gave federal legislators and policymakers a first-hand look at its parallel diesel-electric hybrid technology, known as the MACK® TerraPro™ Cabover, for heavy-duty trucks. Mack is initially introducing these technology in refuse trucks, aka garbage trucks, where hybrid technology seems to have the greatest impact due to the stop-and-go nature of the trash pick-up system.

On the road again.

I just can’t wait to get on the road again.

With My Diesel-Electric Hybrid Truck that I pick up trash in.

I can’t wait to get on the road again.

The largest benefit of the technology is that it has a 30 percent fuel economy improvement in stop-and-go applications and meets the EPA’10 emission regulations. The truck is currently being tested in New York.

Here is the downlow on the technology:

  • rear loading refuse packer body
  • equipped with a 325 hp MACK MP7 engine and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment technology
  • powertrain features an integrated starter, alternator and electric motor
  • the system captures energy from braking, converts the energy to electricity, stores the electricity in lithium ion batteries, and uses it to power the electric motor, which assists the MP7 diesel engine with propulsion of the truck

According to Dennis Slagle, Mack president and CEO, “Our hybrid technology will be commercially viable, yet it will take time to establish a robust hybrid market for heavy vehicles that will enable us to invest in large scale production. Incentives will accelerate the adoption of Class 8 hybrids and bring forward the positive environmental changes.”

Slagle also noted that the technology will be very expensive when it first comes to market and will become more affordable as production increases. In terms of payback, the purchaser will see a return on investment in several years when accounting for the fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs.

The fuel savings would ultimately be a huge bonus for consumers because the high cost of transportation is a major factor in product and food prices and most waste management services have increased monthly rates to offset the high price of diesel. In addition to Mack’s technology, there are more diesel-electric hybrid technologies in the works.

Company sources also noted that it will take federal incentives to bring the technology to market. While there are currently several short-term federal tax credit programs designated for heavy-duty hybrids, longer-term incentives are needed. The Company is lobbying for Congress to extend the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit which is part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expires at the end of this year.

It can be argued that longer-term incentives are need for all-hybrid programs whether for heavy-duty trucks, light trucks or passenger vehicles. And wouldn’t it be great if our garbage was picked up by an electric hybrid truck and then turned into fuel for our passenger cars? This is not a pipe dream – BlueFire Ethanol is doing this very thing in LA County as is CleanTech Biofuels. I’ll be mulling this over when I’m on the road again.


Joanna Schroeder

Joanna is a writer and consultant specializing in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture issues.