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Hybrid trucks strut on Capitol Hill

The Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., plays host to a showcase of hybrid possibilities for the commercial trucking industry.

A UPS medium-duty truck containing Eaton's hybrid hydraulic system parked near the Capitol for 'Hybrid on the Hill Day.'
Eaton Corp.

We often fret over our own gas mileage and that of our neighbors' cars, but how often do we stop to think about the commercial trucking industry's impact on the environment?

FedEx Express announced in November 2008 a plan to purchase vehicles that combine Azure Dynamics' hybrid system with a Ford gasoline engine and chassis. The company now claims to be one of the first to use gasoline hybrid-electric delivery trucks for commercial use.

Peterbilt began offering four hybrid models of commercial trucks in 2008.

UPS has begun using hybrid trucks containing Eaton's energy-saving Series Hybrid Hydraulic System technology.

But those changes barely made news outside of their industry despite the fact that commercial trucking is thought to be a significant contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

Perhaps that's why the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Incentive Working Group and Calstart saw fit to sponsor an event on the topic this Thursday.

And that is why Capitol Hill on Thursday is getting an upfront seat to the latest available in terms of hybrid commercial trucks at the "Hybrid on the Hill Day."

FedEx Express already has hybrid medium-duty trucks in its city fleets. FedEx Express

Unlike other Washington, D.C., events that have highlighted hybrid cars and SUVs, Thursday's event features 17 medium and heavy-duty commercial hybrid trucks with participants from companies in the HTUF group that include Mack, Peterbilt, Freightliner, Kenworth, and FedEx Express.

The event taking place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT at the Capitol Reflecting Pool includes speakers discussing the benefits of hybrids in reducing emissions and cutting fuel use for the commercial trucking industry versus the initial cost layout of investing in new fleets during a tough economy, according to Calstart.

Duke University is also scheduled to unveil a report on the growth of the hybrid truck sector and what effects it may have on the commercial trucking industry.