Plug-in hybrid electric cargo-moving tractor tested in California

Palo Alto, Calif., August 10, 2009 – A plug-in hybrid electric “terminal tractor” used to move shipping containers and cargo within the port will be tested at a Port of Long Beach shipping terminal.

If this heavy-duty application of hybrid electric technology proves successful at Long Beach and other ports then it could replace diesel-powered tractors on a wide scale, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and improving energy efficiency of port operations.

The Electric Power Research Institute is coordinating the project among several ports and will also compile and analyze project data related to the tractor’s performance, including emissions, charging, diesel fuel reduction and other aspects. The equipment will be tested at SSA Container Terminal on Pier A at the Port of Long Beach for 3 months.

U.S. Hybrid Corp. converted the diesel powered vehicle, which is similar in appearance to a tractor cab, into a hybrid which has the ability to be refueled from the electric grid. As a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) the tractor will be able to move containers weighing up to 95,000 pounds as its diesel counterparts can, but unlike diesels will not idle its engine when inactive. Over a year of full-time operation it is expected that the PHEV tractor would use 3,000 gallons of fuel per year less than a similar diesel and significantly reduce emissions.

The three-month Port of Long Beach demonstration project is part of a one-year demonstration, during which the tractor will also be tested and evaluated at ports in Savannah, Ga., Mobile, Ala., Houston, and New York City.

EPRI will document the tractor’s performance and operation including electric grid system impact, vehicle system efficiency, emissions, costs and vehicle performance. EPRI also will evaluate performance and benefits relative to conventional diesel vehicles. The research is part of a broader program EPRI conducts on “non-road” electric applications for transportation, which includes forklifts, airport vehicles and power supply options for ships at dock, airliners at the gate and trucks at truck stops.

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