Published October 28, 2011
Caterpillar's Hybrid Earth Mover.
Consumer hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight do a great deal to limit the emissions footprints of the people who drive them. But when you take gas-electric technologies and put them into heavy duty vehicles like earth movers, the resulting emissions savings can equal that of 14 Priuses over the course of a year. During that time, the average passenger car uses an average of 547 gallons of fuel, while the average heavy-duty vehicle burns through nearly 13,000 gallons—so even the 20-25 percent fuel efficiency gains typical of hybrid earth movers can really add up.
According to The New York Times Wheels Blog, the state of California is readying emissions testing for six heavy-duty diesel hybrids next year, as part of a $2 million study conducted by the University of California Riverside. The state is looking to understand how emissions tests of different heavy-duty operations in simulated work environments can be pieced together to formulate a reliable emissions estimate for those vehicles. The California Air Resources Board will also finance incentives for hybrid construction equipment as part of the program, paying for about half of the added cost of the machinery.
Earlier this year, the White House announced the first ever fuel economy standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks falling into three categories: combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans and vocational vehicles like buses and RVs. According to the federal government, fleet operators and other truck owners will save a total of $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program. Earth movers and other off-road diesels aren't covered under the EPA rules, but according to the Wheels Blog, California may adopt its own set of standards to help in its quest to reduce overall emissions in the state by 80 percent by 2050.