The Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid brought green driving to the mainstream. Climate change advocates are hoping that the same quest for better fuel efficiency and lower emissions will make diesel-electric hybrids a mainstay of the shipping and delivery industry.<b>The Hybrid Shipping Phenomenon</b>
So far, the world’s top shipping companies are taking the lead. FedEx maintains a fleet of 408 alternative fuel delivery trucks: 365 of them are diesel-electric hybrids and 43 are all-electric. FedEx estimates that its hybrid and electric vehicles have saved the company 276,000 gallons of fuel and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 2,800 metric tons. UPS has 380 hybrid delivery trucks on the road, cutting overall fleet carbon dioxide emissions by 1,961 tons annually.
Truck engine manufacturer Eaton has developed a popular hybrid diesel-electric engine for heavy-duty trucks. Coca-Cola was one of the first to order the engine – which switches to an electric motor when the truck slows to less than 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour -- for hundreds of its largest delivery trucks. The hybrid engines increase fuel efficiency by 30 percent and cut overall emissions by the same amount.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory cites the hybridization of the nation’s truck shipping fleet as one of the most effective ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions.