DIAMOND BAR, CA - The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is now working with Volvo, Capstone Turbine Corp. and Kenworth Truck Co. on a new commercial hybrid truck project. In November, AQMD approved $1.56 million to develop and demonstrate two hybrid trucks in partnership with the truck manufacturers.

"Today's goods movement of cargo from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to destinations across the country is powered by highly polluting diesel-fueled trucks and trains," said William A. Burke, AQMD's governing board chairman. "This demonstration project is one step along the path toward creating a zero-polluting goods movement system that will improve the health of millions of Southland residents."

Under the project, Volvo will build and demonstrate a plug-in hybrid big rig truck that will rely on a rechargeable battery for part of its power. In addition to battery power, the truck will use a smaller and cleaner diesel engine than is typically found in today's diesel trucks.

Also under the project, Capstone Turbine and Kenworth Truck will build and demonstrate a hybrid electric truck. Similar to today's plug-in hybrid cars such as the Chevrolet Volt, the truck will be capable of driving up to 10 miles on a battery charge, resulting in zero-emissions. When the battery charge is depleted, the truck will get its power from an onboard microturbine.

Microturbines are highly efficient at burning fuel -- in this case diesel -- to produce electricity. The microturbines' emissions are expected to be four times lower than the 2010 standard for new diesel engines.

In other action, AQMD also recently approved a demonstration program for a Ford Crown Victoria police patrol vehicle fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG.) Police vehicles powered by CNG are already in use in Southern California by the city of Redlands and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The city of South Pasadena also has plans for CNG vehicles.  

Extensive testing by the L.A. Sheriff's Department has shown that CNG Crown Victorias can match the performance of their gasoline counterparts in most respects.

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for California's Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.