American Electric Power is expanding its green efforts to include more hybrid trucks. On Earth Day, at Navistar, Inc.’s Springfield, Ohio, Assembly Plant, AEP is announcing that it has ordered its largest number of hybrid trucks to date – 18 International DuraStar Hybrid diesel hybrid trucks. The addition of 18 International DuraStar Hybrids will bring the total number of hybrid utility trucks in AEP’s fleet to 22 – giving AEP the largest fleet of diesel hybrid utility trucks in the country.

International DuraStar Hybrid trucks have the proven capability to provide dramatic fuel savings of nearly 60 percent in utility-type applications when the engine can be shut off, but electric power still operates the vehicle. Diesel emissions are completely eliminated when the hybrid truck operates equipment (like overhead utility booms) solely on the truck’s battery power, instead of requiring the engine to run.

“AEP has experienced great results from our first four International hybrid trucks,” said Helen Murray, president and chief operating officer for Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), an operating company subsidiary of AEP. “We are proud to expand our use of hybrid trucks,” said Murray. “It’s a good business decision, and the right thing to do for the environment.”

The additional 18 hybrid units are expected to be delivered this summer, of which 13 will operate in Indiana Michigan Power’s fleet. AEP has nearly 1,500 International trucks in its fleet.

“The hybrid combination of the diesel engine and electric battery provides a number of advantages for companies like AEP,” said Jim Williams, director of sales and distribution, new products, Navistar. “We commend AEP for exhibiting leadership with this new technology. The ability to cut diesel fuel use in half, reduce emissions, reduce greenhouse gases and reduce engine wear not only is a smart environmental decision, it’s a smart business decision as well.”

The Hybrid Truck Users Forum estimates that 1,000-1,500 gallons of fuel can be saved per utility truck annually. At today’s high diesel prices, that equates to a savings of $4,000-$6,000 in fuel per truck annually. It also results in annual greenhouse gas reductions of 11 to 16.5 tons of carbon dioxide per unit. AEP expects to save $72,000-$108,000 in fuel costs and eliminate 200 to 300 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over a one-year period with this order of 18 trucks.

International DuraStar Hybrid trucks employ a parallel-type, diesel-electric hybrid architecture that is supplied by Eaton Corporation. It incorporates an electric motor/generator between the output of an automated clutch and input of the automated transmission. The system recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries. The hybrid-electric system recovers energy during braking, and can add power back into the driveline during start and acceleration.

This capability makes the truck more efficient in standard driving, particularly in city and stop-and-go driving. When the truck reaches a work site, the hybrid system can power the hydraulic pump that operates the aerial device and the tools for up to two hours without the engine running. It is this ability to shut the engine down at work sites that helps the truck cut fuel use so significantly. The engine-off option during worksite operations further reduces noise, emissions and fuel costs.

Navistar received the 2007 Blue Sky Award from WestStart-CALSTART for its contributions to the commercial development of diesel-hybrid technology. This preeminent award is presented each year by WestStart-CALSTART, the nation's leading advanced transportation technology industry organization working to support and accelerate the growth of companies developing clean and energy-efficient transportation technologies. Shortly after that award, Navistar announced in November 2007 that is was the first commercial truck company to enter line production of hybrid trucks. The trucks are built at the company’s Springfield, Ohio, plant.