Plug-in hybrid systems for Class 6 trucks could boost mileage 50%. This would be a seriously big deal. Cummins is developing the technology now using a $4.5 million grant from the Department of Energy. If successful and implemented widely, this would cut trucking costs sharply and help the environment too. Imagine the savings in fuel and money if millions of trucks got 9 mpg rather than 6 mpg. Partners in the project include PACCAR (Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF), Ohio State University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory. This is a serious attempt by major players to increase mileage on heavy trucks. Excellent.
The reduction of fuel consumption will be accomplished using a range of drive cycles designed to meet the needs of commercial fleet operators. In addition to a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the trucks will feature other technologies, including intelligent transportation systems and electronic braking. Ultimately, the researchers aim to demonstrate improved fuel consumption and state-of-the-art drivability and performance regardless of environmental conditions.
A Class 6 truck has a gross vehicle weight of between 19,000 and 26,000 pounds. The category includes trucks with a single rear axle and school buses.