President Barack Obama previewed an innovative plug-in hybrid electric utility truck with a power system developed by diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corp. and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The President visited the Electric Vehicle Technical Center of Southern California Edison (SCE) to view an array of advanced technology vehicles.

The plug-in hybrid truck, which is estimated to deliver fuel economy improvements of up to 70 percent compared to a conventionally powered truck, with corresponding reductions in harmful emissions, was developed for Southern California Edison. Eaton is in the early test phase of the plug-in system and is considering it as a potential future offering.
“Eaton is pleased to add plug-in hybrid power systems to our portfolio, in concert with EPRI and Southern California Edison at this important event attended by President Obama,” said James E. Sweetnam, president, Eaton’s Truck Group. “We salute Southern California Edison, a long-standing customer of ours, for its commitment to innovation and energy efficiency.”

According to SCE, Southern California’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Technical Center is unique in the utility industry. Every day it provides a broad range of electric transportation services, focusing on solutions for automakers, battery manufacturers, government agencies, business and industrial fleet customers, residential customers and more.

After touring the facility, President Obama announced an outlay of $2.4 billion in stimulus funds to encourage the next generation of plug-in hybrids electric vehicles and their advanced battery components, broken down as follows:

  • The Department of Energy is offering up to $1.5 billion in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce these highly efficient batteries and their components.
  • The Department of Energy is offering up to $500 million in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce other components needed for electric vehicles, such as electric motors and other components.
  • The Department of Energy is offering up to $400 million to demonstrate and evaluate Plug-In Hybrids and other electric infrastructure concepts -- like truck stop charging station, electric rail, and training for technicians to build and repair electric vehicles.

The plug-in hybrid truck is the first of five “boom and bucket” trucks based on a Ford F-550 chassis that will be provided by Eaton, EPRI and Ford to public and private utility fleets in the United States for use and evaluation. In addition to fuel and emissions savings while the truck is on the road, additional energy savings are available by utilizing the electric side of the system to power the ancillary systems and tools when the truck is stopped at a work site.

The entire system can be recharged by plugging it into a standard 120- or 240-V electrical outlet. Once charged, the battery energy can be used to supplement engine power and also provide power to operate auxiliaries, such as the utility truck boom.