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Keeping Up

Written by Seth Skydel on . Posted in .

The hardest part of putting together the Spring 2012 issue of Utility Fleet Professional was not finding enough material to fill the pages. The real challenge was determining what to include from the very large volume of information we had available.

If you’re attending The Work Truck Show, you’ll know exactly what I mean. On display at the annual event are the latest technologies from more than 550 exhibitors. Also featuring a large expo of products was the Hybrid, Electric and Advanced Truck Users Forum (HTUF) annual meeting this past fall.

We made room in this issue for coverage of developments reported to us about electric, propane, compressed natural gas and hybrid vehicles; reports from industry conferences on fleet management practices; and details of the latest shop and vehicle technologies being offered by the industry’s leading suppliers.

There were a couple of things we had to leave out, but only because they are developments that we will be learning much more about in the not-too-distant future and will most certainly cover extensively in upcoming issues.

Bright Automotive, for example, is ramping up for a 2014 launch of its IDEA plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The all-wheel-drive platform is the result of a 2010 strategic partnership with General Motors, which is providing engines and parts. Bright currently has several prototypes of its PHEV powertrain in the field.

We have also learned about a global effort that is leading toward the eventual introduction of Class 3-5 hybrid trucks by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America (MFTA). At the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, MFTA’s parent company, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, a part of the Daimler Trucks Division of Daimler AG, unveiled the second-generation model of its light-duty Canter Eco Hybrid, which is reportedly 40 percent lighter than the original 2006 model and has shown 30 percent better fuel economy than diesel-powered models.

Todd Bloom, president and CEO of MFTA, explained that the hybrid technology is in place and the payback on an investment in these vehicles is verifiable. Now, he said, the goal is to address emissions and safety standards so the Canter Eco Hybrid can join MFTA’s line of Canter FE/FG Class 3 through 5 cabovers in the U.S.

We are also planning to follow developments as Toyota and Ford work together to develop hybrid trucks and SUVs that will be ready for market by the end of the decade. The two companies announced the plan in late summer of last year, noting that they will collaborate on product development for the future rear-wheel drive hybrid vehicles and help each other meet stringent U.S. fuel economy standards.

All things considered, there is plenty to read about in this issue and we hope you agree that we made wise choices about what to include. Looking ahead, we’ll be steadfastly following all the industry’s developments and giving you even more valuable information.

Seth Skydel