Eaton's Fluid Power Group Hosts Technology Days to Showcase Three Hybrid Vehicles

EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. ... Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation this week is hosting Fluid Power Technology Days to display its advances in hydraulic hybrid system technology.

The three-day event kicked off yesterday when U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) learned about and test drove the world's first hydraulic hybrid UPS delivery truck. He and other officials also rode in two vehicles equipped with the Eaton Hydraulic Launch Assist(TM) (HLA[R]) hybrid hydraulic system. The ride and drive opportunities are being extended to Eaton customers and representatives from academia later in the week.

The UPS delivery truck on display features the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s patented series hybrid hydraulic powertrain technology. The truck achieves 50-70 percent better fuel efficiency in urban driving and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 40 percent compared to a conventional UPS diesel-powered delivery truck, according to EPA estimates. The EPA also estimates that a typical fleet owner operating one of these high-efficiency hydraulic powertrains would save up to 1,000 gallons of fuel each year per truck. The vehicle was developed through a partnership between EPA, Eaton, UPS, International Truck and Engine Corporation and the U.S. Army.

UPS began testing the vehicle this year on the road in the Detroit area, and plans to do additional testing in Cleveland.

"Eaton is proud to be working with the EPA and our industry partners in bringing this leading- edge technology to market," said Sohan Uppal, vice president, Technology, Eaton Fluid Power Group. "Innovative technologies such as the hydraulic hybrid truck represent Eaton's focus on energy management, market-leading products and environmental responsiveness."

In the series hydraulic hybrid truck, a high-efficiency diesel engine is combined with a unique hydraulic propulsion system to replace the conventional drivetrain and transmission. The vehicle uses hydraulic pump motors and hydraulic storage tanks to recover and store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in hybrid electric vehicles. Vehicle fuel economy is increased in three ways: braking energy that normally is wasted is recovered and reused; the engine is operated more efficiently; and the engine can be shut off when not needed, such as when stopped or decelerating.

Other vehicles at the event include a refuse truck and a shuttle bus equipped with the Eaton-developed HLA hybrid hydraulic system. The regenerative braking system recovers energy normally wasted as heat during braking and stores it for later use. During braking, the vehicle's kinetic energy is converted and stored by the HLA as hydraulic energy. During vehicle acceleration, this stored energy is released, and the HLA supplements or substitutes for the engine's power.

"The Eaton HLA system is evolutionary because it supplements the vehicle's existing transmission, drive shaft, and axle infrastructure," said Uppal. The series hybrid hydraulic system is revolutionary. It replaces the existing transmission and drive shaft with a hydraulic drivetrain."

"The HLA system is a natural progression in hybrid technology development and holds the promise of a cost-effective, efficient technology for both on- and off-highway vehicles. It provides 20-30 percent better fuel efficiency in stop-and-go applications and should provide full payback to the end user in 2-3 years," Bohlmann explained.

Eaton plans to commercialize the HLA system for refuse trucks in 2007, which demonstrates Eaton's commitment to next-generation hybrid technologies that are supported by Senator Coleman.

He is a co-sponsor of S 2025, The Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act, which would increase tax incentives for the purchase and manufacture of hybrid vehicle systems.

"Overdependence on foreign energy is the greatest threat to our economic and national security. Today, we mark another important step towards America's energy independence with this innovative hydraulic hybrid technology developed by Eaton," states Coleman.

"With the HLA system being developed primarily in Minnesota, we are proud to have Senator Coleman attend our technology event that is showcasing Eaton's role in designing and developing hybrid hydraulic systems and partnering with the EPA to create truly innovative technologies," Uppal said.

Eaton Corporation is a diversified industrial manufacturer with 2005 sales of $11.1 billion. Eaton is a global leader in electrical systems and components for power quality, distribution and control; fluid power systems and services for industrial, mobile and aircraft equipment; intelligent truck drivetrain systems for safety and fuel economy; and automotive engine air management systems, powertrain solutions and specialty controls for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has 60,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 125 countries. For more information, visit

Brad Bohlmann

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