International Truck and Engine Enters Hybrid Commercial Truck Production

November 20, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

International Truck and Engine Corp., a Navistar International Corp. company, announced that it is the first company to enter line production of hybrid commercial trucks. As diesel fuel prices continue their volatility and engine emissions requirements tighten, International Truck and Engine is now producing the International® DuraStar™ Hybrid, a diesel hybrid electric medium-duty truck that is said to provide customers with improved fuel efficiency and reduced engine emissions.

"We believe that hybrid technology is an important development for the commercial transportation sector," said Daniel C. Ustian, President and Chief Executive Officer, Navistar International Corp.. "Increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions for the nation’s commercial trucks results in significant benefits for all of us. We strive to be the leader in developing energy efficient transportation solutions in the commercial truck, commercial bus and school bus industries."

The International DuraStar Hybrid diesel hybrid electric truck is claimed to have the proven capability to provide dramatic fuel savings from 30-40% on a standard in-city pickup and delivery applications. The fuel efficiency can increase to more than 60% in utility-type applications when the engine can be shut off, but electric power still operates the vehicle. Diesel emissions are completely eliminated when the hybrid truck operates equipment (like overhead utility booms) solely on the truck’s battery power, instead of allowing the engine to idle.

"In our continued quest to be the first to market with new truck technologies, we are taking the next major step in bringing a medium-duty diesel hybrid electric vehicle into the marketplace," said Dee Kapur, Truck Group President, International Truck and Engine. "The hybrid combination of the diesel engine and electric battery provides and number of advantages for many truck customers."

"These units are now successfully operating giving us confidence in the quality and reliability of our new hybrid electric product," said Jim Williams, Director of Sales & Distribution, New Products, International Truck and Engine. "As part of this development process, we have teamed with the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), which is a consortium of utility industry customers, Eaton Corp., the Federal Government and the Weststart/Calstart organization. This was necessary to assist us with the cost of bringing this new technology to market. It also has given us the direct customer feedback and support that is required to make the program a success. The prototype phase is done – International is now building hybrid trucks."

The key challenge facing the trucking industry is the high initial cost to bring the hybrid technology to market. As International builds scale, it states that it expects hybrid truck prices to decrease dramatically, similar to price reduction in computer technology and home electronics equipment over the years.