Kenworth Debuts Natural Gas-Electric Hybrid Truck

May 01, 2018 by John O'Dell

Looking to grab a slice of the growing market for ultra clean heavy duty drayage and regional hauling trucks, Paccar’s Kenworth unit has developed a prototype natural gas-electric hybrid version of its Class 8, T680 day cab tractor.

The company is showing the truck at the ACT Expo green transport conference in Long Beach, Calif., this week and says it will put the unit to work in a demonstration project this summer.

The truck was developed “to evaluate potential alternatives to diesel power for commercial vehicles,” said Stephan Olsen, Kenworth’s product planning director. The project is part of the ongoing Hybrid Emission Cargo Transport program, funded in part by the federal Department of Energy and Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, or SCAQMD.

Kenworth engineers teamed the newly developed Cummins Westport ISL G near-zero emissions natural gas engine with an electric powertrain. The 8.9-liter engine is used as a generator to provide electricity to power the electric drive motor after the initial battery charge is depleted.

Kenworth says the T680 hybrid can travel up to 30 miles on its initial charge before the natural gas engine-generator kicks in. Maximum range on a tank of compressed natural gas and fully charged lithium-ion battery pack is estimated at 250 miles.

The truck is part of a larger clean emissions demonstration project Kenworth announced at the 2017 ACT Expo. In all, the company has plans to deploy five natural-gas electric hybrid T680s and a fuel cell electric T680 hybrid. The fuel cell truck was unveiled earlier this year and already is in service at the Southern California ports.

The company said the multi-truck project is funded by $4.2 million in Energy Department grants and $4.8 million in grants from the SCAQMD.

The hybrid system was jointly developed with BAE Systems and the truck will be deployed later this year as part of Total Transportation System Inc.’s drayage and regional cargo hauling fleet at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Kenworth is one of several truck and powertrain makers, including Toyota, Volvo, U.S. Hybrid and Mack, that are testing low- and zero-emissions trucks at the ports.

The aim is to develop vehicles and powertrains that can help trucking companies meet California’s tough air quality regulations. The green technology is an alternative to diesel engines that also are subject to federal emissions standards.

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