Based in Warrenville, Ill., Navistar has paved the “road to a better environment” with its hybrid commercial trucks. Navistar announced last November it would be the first company to enter line production of International DuraStar Hybrid trucks. Debuted at the 2008 National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Work Truck Show, the International DuraStar Hybrid is a medium-duty diesel-hybrid electric truck designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce engine emissions.
Utilities Light the Way
Among the first fleets to drive these forward-thinking trucks was Florida Power & Light (FPL) in Juno, Fla., one of the largest utilities in the United States. FPL was one of 14 utility companies that participated in the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) pilot program from 2006-2007.
“We tested International’s hybrid truck for almost a year and it has provided substantial savings in diesel fuel,” said George Survant, director of fleet services for FPL and HTUF utility working group chair. “Plus, the truck’s boom can operate on battery power instead of the engine, which results in less fuel consumed, less emissions released into the air, and reduced noise in the neighborhoods where we work,” Survant said.
FPL currently operates 1,222 International trucks in its fleet, and three 4300 DuraStar 4300 model hybrid- electric trucks (with five on order). According to Survant, the fleet expects to have 600 hybrids in the future.
“What International and the other partners did was make these trucks, to a large degree, very much like those the operators were already used to — which makes the learning curve short, the application easy to adapt, and training of the drivers simply a non-issue,” said Survant.
Hybrid Drive System
The key to the hybrid’s powertrain efficiency is the hybrid drive unit (HDU). While braking, torque passing through the transmission turns the generator in the HDU to recharge the battery. Then, when pulling away, the truck uses the torque created by the electric motor to get the vehicle moving.
Regenerative braking enhances stopping power and reduces brake wear by using the electric motor to slow the vehicle. With a parallel hybrid system, the diesel powertrain remains fully functional in the unlikely event the HDU goes offline.
Benefits for a Variety of Applications
The DuraStar Series works for a number of fleet applications, including:
- Waste Collection.
The DuraStar Series also provides a number of benefits.
- Low ownership cost. Synchronized service intervals, comprehensive maintenance, breakaway mirrors, and a three-piece hood allow for easy part replacement and repair — cutting down on costs.
- Integrated powertrain. DuraStar’s cab, chassis, and MaxxForce engine are all built by International, resulting in smooth integration, less downtime, drive efficiencies, and strong performance.
- Performance. The DuraStar hybrid goes from 0-60 mph nine seconds faster than its predecessor. It also offers up to 60% improvement in fuel economy compared to traditional diesel engines. The optional Electronic Power Take-Off (EPTO) keeps the engine off during stationary work, reducing noise pollution.
- Uptime. DuraStar’s Diamond Logic connects electrical power in the truck by routing all signals through a few wires. With 40% less wiring, there’s less chance of electrical shorts, resulting in fewer breakdowns. Users can also plug into the system to diagnose problems in minutes rather than hours.
- Safety. DuraStar’s fully programmable Diamond Logic electrical system’s special safety interlocks and self-diagnostics provide warnings of potential problems. It prevents inadvertent operating mistakes and electrical shorts, and sends scheduled maintenance alerts.
- Convenience. Diamond Logic also comes with a number of programmable features such as a built-in parking brake alarm and wiper speed control.
Customized options include a warning light that indicates an open cargo door, or a drive-time meter showing the hours the truck’s been in use. A vehicle idle shutdown timer eliminates unnecessary idling. To save fuel, the vehicle temporarily shuts down after a customer-specified time. Electrical features continue to operate for headlights, turn signals, taillights, hazard flashers, and dome lights.
- Comfort. The optional Crew Cab and Extended Cab models comfortably accommodates up to six people. World-class fit and finish, and improved cab insulation ensure a quiet driver environment. Drivers of all sizes can fit comfortably with the improved shoulder, head, and belly room interior. The ergonomically designed interior also includes high-back seats with integrated headrests, easy-to-read gauges, and easy-to-use controls.
To minimize driver fatigue, the DuraStar has improved pedal placement and angles, and offers an easy-to-operate clutch and an optional cab rear air suspension for greater ride and cab component durability. Driver and passenger amenities include a rear-wall coat hook, abundant lighting and storage, a two-beverage pull-out cup holder with ashtray, and a choice of trim levels.
- Environmentally friendly. The hybrid model reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 65%, carbon monoxide (CO) by 58%, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 41%, making it the cleanest truck in the industry, according to the company. The DuraStar Hybrid is approved for biodiesel, a blend of cleaner-burning fuel made from diesel fuel and renewable resources such as vegetable oil.