Tontitown-based carrier P.A.M. Transportation Services has been testing a hybrid electric Peterbilt truck for about the past two years, and looks to send the truck to the Northeast to achieve improved fuel economy, said Paul Pettit, vice president of maintenance for P.A.M.
The diesel-powered truck was retrofitted with a rear axle that can store power into a bank of lithium ion batteries as it goes down hills, he said. The stored power can be used as auxiliary power for the driver or returned to the axle to help the truck climb hills.
“We’re one of the original fleets to prototype this unit with the folks we’re testing it with,” Pettit said. “So we’ve been going through repairs, upgrades from their beta test all the way through their production unit, with this unit. Just helping them get it out on the road, get testing data back and make adjustments and do it as they work through them.”
Austin, Texas-based startup Hyliion installed the system into one truck in the carrier’s fleet of nearly 2,000 trucks. Pettit said Hyliion reached out to P.A.M. about installing its system for trailers, but P.A.M. opted for the truck system. The truck was being tested in Texas, but because of the flat terrain, it wasn’t an ideal spot to determine peak fuel efficiency. Pettit expects the test to continue through the life of the truck. The goal is for a 30% improvement in fuel economy, and so far, the savings has only been a small percentage. He expects the rolling hills of the Northeast to allow for improved fuel economy.
Pettit said drivers have enjoyed the auxiliary power the batteries offer because they can operate the air conditioning or heating systems without having to run the engine. Other P.A.M. trucks also offer auxiliary power.