Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) will participate in the Clean Cities program for the production and sale of more than 600 trucks equipped with hybrid and natural-gas drive systems.

DTNA will participate in at least seven program awards representing $32.9 million (approx. €23 million) in funding to be applied toward the purchase and support of 638 hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles by several leading national fleet operators.

The program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that went into effect in February, is designed to encourage fleet operators to adopt clean, fuel-efficient diesel and alternative energy technologies that will create new jobs, stimulate the economy, and help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

The DOE is providing almost $100 million through the Clean Cities program, approximately $84 million of which is earmarked for vehicle purchases, with around $14 million targeted toward alternative energy infrastructure expansion. The program thus represents one of the biggest projects ever to promote cleaner cities through the use of hybrid and alternative drive systems in heavy-duty trucks.

“This decision by the DOE is tremendously important to our company because it will enable us to safeguard our North American jobs and allow our employees to continue moving ahead full-steam with the development of alternative fuel technologies,” says Martin Daum, Head of Daimler Trucks North America. “Our customers also benefit from our being able to offer them sustainable vehicles that are ready for future challenges. In addition, the choice honors Daimler’s efforts to create new environmental technology jobs and improve air quality, thus ensuring healthier communities.”

DTNA will use the DOE funds to manufacture and sell more than 600 vehicles equipped with alternative drive systems. These will include Freightliner Business Class M2e 106 hybrid electric trucks and tractors, and Freightliner Business Class M2 112 natural-gas trucks in CNG (compressed natural gas) and LNG (liquid natural gas) variants. Also in the program are chassis manufactured by Freightliner Chassis Corporation (FCCC) for hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid and natural gas-powered walk-in vans.

The production and sale of these vehicles will support jobs in various regions in the United States. Freightliner Business Class M2 hybrid electric and CNG and LNG vehicles are built in Mt. Holly, NC, while the hybrid electric and hydraulic hybrid walk-in vans are manufactured in Gaffney, SC. In addition, the hybrid component supplier Eaton is based in North Carolina.

As Mark Lampert, DTNA Senior Vice President Sales, points out, DOE funding will benefit customers as well: “DOE’s support underscores our customers’ acceptance and preference for Daimler Trucks’ clean drive technologies. This exemplifies the value of a long line of DTNA technologies that deliver customer value, fuel efficiency, and cleaner air — a win-win opportunity for everyone.”

DTNA’s hybrid vehicles offer energy-saving advantages and thus financial benefits as well. The lithium-ion batteries used for hybrid electric drive systems capture about 25 percent of the vehicle’s braking energy, while the accumulator in the hydraulic hybrids captures up to 70 percent. The energy gained in this manner is used the next time the vehicle starts moving. This results in lower fuel consumption, reduced brake wear, and quieter vehicle operation.

DTNA offers hybrids for a variety of applications. The Freightliner M2e, for example, delivers an improvement of up to 40 percent in fuel economy in the pick up and delivery segment, and an improvement of up to 60 percent in fuel economy in the municipality and utility segment. The hybrid electric drive in the chassis for the walk-in vans achieves a 40-percent improvement in fuel economy and boasts 90 percent lower emissions compared to baseline non-hybrid vehicles.

In 2008, DTNA became the first manufacturer in the U.S. to offer and deliver natural gas-powered trucks to customers. In doing so, DTNA fulfilled the United States’ stringent EPA 10 emissions standard two years prior to its introduction in 2010. Natural gas drives can reduce trucks’ pollutant emissions by more than 90 percent and can cut fuel and operating costs by $6,000 (approx. €4,000) per truck per year, depending on the vehicle’s application. DTNA recently launched a new natural gas-powered truck, the Freightliner Business Class M2 112 NG, which is especially suited for harbor and municipal use.

DTNA has a long history of providing innovative technologies that benefit customers and the environment alike. Its commitment here is part of Daimler AG’s global “Shaping Future Transportation” initiative, which seeks to continually reduce the carbon dioxide and pollutant emissions of commercial vehicles, as well as their fuel consumption.

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, DTNA is the leading medium- and heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a member of the Daimler Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles.

Source: Daimler AG