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Hybrid Technology for Commercial Vehicle Applications Beginning to Offer Demonstrable ROI


With much attention already focused on consumer hybrid vehicles, developers of systems for heavier commercial vehicles are finding many large customers willing to consider implementing new technology into their fleets in increasing numbers. Under normal circumstances, fleet buyers avoid risk at almost all cost, but the significant benefits demonstrated in a variety of pilot projects have captured their attention. The latest study on commercial hybrid vehicles from ABI Research reveals that order volumes are beginning to become significant.

The potential to reduce emissions from all vehicles is an attractive bonus, but the real drivers for the growth in the market are demonstrable fuel economy improvements and reductions in maintenance costs. Along with price reductions from economies of scale due to an increase in orders, hybrid vehicles for certain commercial markets are reaching that tipping point at which they become the economical choice, not merely the environmental one.

"In the consumer market, slightly different versions of parallel hybrid-electric drive are being offered by all the manufacturers," says senior analyst David Alexander. "In the commercial market, trucks and buses are being equipped with hybrid drives that feature both series and parallel architecture, and hydraulic energy storage as an alternative to electrical." The analyst adds that the feedback from testing in service is showing that reliability is equal to, or better than, conventional equipment.

While initial cost, payback periods, and suitability of the technologies to different applications all remain issues, it now makes sense for fleet managers to experience the new technology for themselves, and then do their own determination of the benefits and applicability of the new equipment for their particular needs. Market interest could bode well for some of the primary developers of commercial hybrid technology such as Azure Dynamics, BAE Systems, Cobasys, Dana, Eaton, Enova, General Motors, ISE, and UQM.

The ABI Research study, "Commercial Hybrid Vehicles," provides an analysis of market trends across all regions, and discusses the relative costs and technological merits of offerings from hybrid developers. It examines existing product announcements and design wins, and provides global forecasts of the market for hybrid trucks and buses and major supply components by region, through 2012. The study forms part of ABI Research's Automotive Systems Research Service, which includes a number of comprehensive research studies, ABI Insights, and analyst inquiry time.





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