A recent report from Pike Research forecasts that the hybrid truck sector will reach an inflection point over the next few years, increasing from just 9,000 vehicles sold in 2010 to more than 100,000 vehicles annually in 2015.

"Payback periods on hybrid drive trains are improving for medium and heavy-duty truck classes, particularly as oil prices continue to rise," says senior analyst Dave Hurst. "An increased focus on efficiency and regulatory compliance among fleet managers, combined with a variety of new models being introduced by truck manufacturers, will lead to substantial growth in this market over the next five years."

Hurst adds that there are five types of hybrid systems that can be implemented on board medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles: (1) hybrid electric , (2) plug-in hybrid electric, (3) battery electric, (4) mild electric power take-off (EPTO) hybrids, and (5) hydraulic hybrids.

Pike Research forecasts that hybrid electric trucks will be the largest segment between now and 2015. Fleets with local delivery trucks will be strong candidates for battery electric vehicles. Pike Research does not anticipate a sizable opportunity for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in the medium and heavy-duty truck markets.

Pike Research's study, "Hybrid Trucks and Buses", analyzes the opportunities and challenges in the market for hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses. The report provides a comprehensive examination of hybrid and battery technologies, along with key drivers of demand from medium/heavy-duty truck fleet customers. The report also explores global government regulations related to diesel emissions and hybrid purchase incentives. It includes detailed forecasts through 2015 for commercial vehicle registrations, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric medium and heavy-duty trucks segmented by country and world region, as well as bus fleets for the United States. Key market players are also profiled.