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More federal funds eyed for hybrid electric trucks

October 25, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Up to $3.5 million more in federal money would go to a Mack hybrid electric truck program if the U.S. Senate's version of an appropriations bills is approved.

Volvo Powertrain is working on four Mack hybrid prototypes for the U.S. Air Force - two refuse trucks and two dump trucks. Mack's Macungie, Pa., plant is building the truck bodies.

Guy T. Rini, program manager for Mack's hybrid program, said the Air Force is paying $4.1 million for the four trucks, and the research and development of the powertrain.

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The dump trucks are on schedule to be completed in the first half of 2006 and the refuse trucks in the second half, Rini said.

In a hybrid vehicle, an electric motor recovers energy and uses it at times in place of the vehicle's gasoline or diesel engine.

Mack already has produced a prototype hybrid electric refueling truck for the Air Force.

The refuse trucks will collect garbage, while the dump trucks will load and unload sand, gravel and rock, Rini said.

Mack hopes to expand the hybrid technology into commercial refuse trucks and transit buses, he said.

During a visit to the Volvo Powertrain plant north of Hagerstown on Monday, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., said hybrid technology will make the military more powerful and the environment cleaner.

"We are going to be safer," she told a roomful of employees, referring a few times to U.S. troops in Iraq. "We are going to be stronger."

Rini said Mack has set 40 percent as a target for fuel-efficiency improvement. He said dump and refuse trucks idle a lot, so fuel usage is a standard of measurement rather than miles per gallon.

Mikulski's office said $3.5 million for the hybrid program is part of a $440 billion 2006 defense spending bill, which the Senate has passed.

The version the House passed includes $2 million for the program, said Lisa Wright, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

A conference to iron out the differences between the bills hasn't been scheduled, Wright said.

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