Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation Launches Hydraulic Hybrid at NTEA Work Truck Show

CHICAGO, Ill.–Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) today introduced the newest addition to its robust alternative powertrain chassis development program – the pilot hydraulic hybrid walk-in van chassis.  This latest alternative-fuel chassis from FCCC was launched here at the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Work Truck Show.

Boasting improved fuel economy and less brake wear due to regenerative braking, the hydraulic hybrid chassis is designed and engineered in partnership with Parker Hannifin Corporation (NYSE:PH) to address environmental and cost-savings concerns. The pilot hydraulic hybrid chassis is on display in the Work Truck Show's Hybrid Pavilion (booth #5407) as well as showcased in the Ride & Drive as a demonstration unit.

"The hydraulic hybrid chassis not only offers a reduction in operating costs, it also decreases exhaust emissions, providing a substantial environmental benefit," said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. "As the first chassis manufacturer to launch hybrids into the walk-in van market, we are very proud to continue that tradition by introducing our hydraulic hybrid as another option for customers."

Hydraulic hybrid chassis utilizes stored energy
Predictions based on preliminary testing have shown that the hydraulic hybrid improves fuel economy between 50 to 70 percent over traditional diesel-powered vehicles with automatic transmissions in stop-and-go applications. The hydraulic hybrid improves fuel economy in three significant ways: recovered braking energy; improved engine efficiency; and its engine-off feature.

Built on the FCCC MT-55 chassis, the hydraulic hybrid system stores energy during the braking process in an accumulator. The energy stored in the accumulator is then used to accelerate the vehicle on the next launch. Upon reacceleration, the vehicle utilizes the energy stored in the accumulator and once depleted, the engine is restarted.

"The hydraulic hybrid is able to recover and reuse about 70 percent of the energy that otherwise would have been wasted during the braking process," said Rich Kimpel, engineering manager for the Parker Hydraulic Group Technology and Commercialization Support Team. "On the other hand, typical electric hybrids can only recapture about 25 percent of the brake energy."

Another feature of the hydraulic system is that the engine is not connected to the rear wheels of the vehicle, allowing it to run more efficiently as it doesn't need to track road speed. Furthermore, the advanced engine-off feature allows the engine to turn off while idling at a stop. The engine only restarts when the energy stored in the accumulator is not enough to meet driving demands.

"The hydraulic hybrid differs from a hybrid-electric vehicle because the accumulators recharge much faster than batteries while the overall hydraulic system offers nearly 10 times the power density of electric hybrids," Kimpel said. "This factor also contributes to improved fuel economy by allowing the capture of more brake energy."

The hydraulic hybrid also requires less traditional friction braking because of its regenerative braking system, resulting in less brake wear and extended brake life. The regenerative braking system saves energy by recycling and storing it as hydraulic power, which can then be reused to propel the vehicle instead of losing it to heat as is the case with traditional brakes. The friction braking system is minimally used when the regenerative system is working, further extending brake life and lowering maintenance costs.  

 "FCCC continues to investigate and develop alternative-fuel technologies that are added benefits for our customers," Randall said. "We're pleased that in today's economy, FCCC continues to find innovative ways for customers to decrease their operational costs."

FCCC and Parker Hannifin developed a prototype hybrid hydraulic chassis for FedEx Ground in 2008, and are currently running driver evaluation tests. UPS also received a hydraulic hybrid prototype for fleet testing.

"Based on our application, hybrid hydraulics technology appears to be very promising," said Taki Darakos, project manager of vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground.

Hydraulic hybrid chassis is durable, reliable and maneuverable
The hydraulic hybrid features all of the attributes FCCC customers have come to expect from the MT-55 walk-in van chassis. The new chassis is the perfect choice for high-payload applications such as pickup and delivery. The durable straight-rail frame – among the strongest in the industry – reduces flex and bowing to minimize chassis stress.

The hydraulic hybrid also boasts an industry-best 50-degree wheel cut, making the chassis the most maneuverable on the market and the perfect choice for navigating city streets, narrow loading areas and neighborhoods.

Powered by the Cummins® ISB 2007 engine with 200 hp, the FCCC hydraulic hybrid chassis does not require a transmission and utilizes Parker's hydraulic propulsion system.

Green technology legacy
FCCC and its parent company, Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA), have a long history of providing innovative technologies that benefit customers and the environment. FCCC's commitment to green technologies is in line with Daimler AG's global initiative called, "Shaping Future Transportation." Launched in Stuttgart, Germany, by Daimler in 2007, the initiative is focused on reducing category emissions pollutants, carbon dioxide and fuel consumption.

In August 2008, Daimler announced the opening of the Global Hybrid Center at Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation in Kawasaki, Japan. The center will be the worldwide hub for Daimler's hybrid development.

"FCCC is proud to play an integral role in Daimler's global initiative," Randall said. "We are committed to remaining at the forefront of developing new technology that is based upon our core benefits of superior performance and maximum efficiency."

Along with the hydraulic hybrid chassis, FCCC also manufactures compressed natural gas (CNG) commercial vehicle chassis and hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) chassis to the walk-in van market segment. These alternative-fuel vehicles have proven to have significant fuel savings benefits.

And in 2008, FCCC introduced ecoFRED™, the motorhome industry's first-ever hybrid-electric chassis, as well as the MB-HEV hybrid-electric commercial bus chassis, in response to a growing customer demand for alternative-fuel power that provides the same excellent performance and durability as FCCC's premium diesel-powered chassis.

"Our new hybrid hydraulic chassis is another option for customers interested in reducing their fuel consumption and carbon footprint without losing the outstanding performance, ride and handling of a FCCC chassis," Randall added.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van, and school bus and shuttle bus markets. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.

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