Kalamazoo, Michigan [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] They’ve got the technology, now two truck manufacturers will give WestStart-CalStart the diesel-electric hybrid trucks the technology consortium is looking for.International Truck and Engine, and Eaton will manufacture diesel-electric hybrid trucks for a national pilot program that will serve the utility industry, and is supported by the U.S. Army’s National Automotive Center. The pilot truck program will test a minimum of 20 factory-built International utility trucks featuring an integrated hybrid powertrain solution jointly developed by the two companies. “When you combine International’s leadership in the medium truck and mid-range diesel engines and Eaton’s reputation as a leading powertrain supplier, you’ve built a great platform for success,” said George Survant, who is the chairman of the Hybrid Truck Users Forum Utility of WestStart. The diesel-electric hybrid test vehicles, which are International 4000 Series medium trucks, will be manufactured at the company’s truck assembly plant in Springfield, Ohio. The initial powertrain will couple an International DT 466 in-line six-cylinder diesel engine with an Eaton hybrid-electric drivetrain, incorporating a transmission, batteries and permanent magnet motor. Power from the engine is converted directly into electrical energy, which then incorporates the conventional drivetrain to power the truck. The system recovers kinetic energy during braking and charges the batteries while the truck is slowing down. This provides additional power for acceleration, and should make the hybrid trucks ideal for in-city driving situations with frequent starting and stopping. Additionally, the hybrid truck used in the pilot will operate the utility bucket in an electric-only mode with the engine shut off for up to two hours, and provide electric power during idling for added fuel saving benefits. “Together, International and Eaton are delivering an integrated solution that allows the customer to attain a 40 to 60 percent increase in fuel economy, and exceed new standards for fuel emissions,” said Kevin Beaty, Hybrid Business Unit manager for Eaton Corporation. Both International and Eaton believe that diesel-electric hybrid technology holds significant promise. If the pilot program is successful and customer needs are met, International is prepared produce diesel-electric hybrid trucks as early as 2006.