Trucks

In 1997, cars outsold trucks by 8,105,627 to 7,949,915 units in North America. Since then, trucks have outsold cars according to Wards Automotive, as follows:

YEAR CARS TRUCKS
2012 6,956,179 8,841,625
2011 5,624,553 7,853,153
2010 5,084,330 7,072,056
2009 3,960,731 4,800,234
2008 6,144,135 6,778,191
2007 6,418,498 9,007,847
2006 6,836,897 9,040,264
2005 6,518,697 9,800,086
2004 6,347,881 9,876,983
2003 6,567,592 9,647,745
2002 7,286,516 9,431,037
2001 7,083,587 8,733,067
2000 8,151,905 9,507,795
1999 8,198,169 9,417,952
1998 7,929,968 8,102,907

 

While trucks have prominently been used in commercial, mining, farming, forestry, and industrial applications, the recent growth in sales has come from non-commercial truck use, in particular the 4-door pickup, a cross between people mover and cargo carrier. This expanded market segment has driven an interest in improving truck fuel economy and reduced emissions.

2013 GMC Sierra hybrid display

2013 GMC Sierra hybrid display

2013 Dodge Ram 4 door

2013 Dodge Ram 4 door

Much of that interest has focused on hybrid trucks, although Forbes (April, 2012) reports historically that “65% of Hybrid owners don’t buy another hybrid”.  Among Prius car owners 75% will not buy another one, even though 49% of all vehicle owners in general would purchase the same brand again. The main reasons for rejecting hybrids  – too expensive, and poor performance, the same two reasons why virtually no hybrid trucks are sold for commercial use.  Further, the areas of highest hybrid loyalty are in southern Florida and Arizona. The reason – poor performance when driving in “real world” conditions including cold, ice, snow, stop and go traffic, and hills while using power demanding wipers, radio, rear defroster and a heater. In short, hybrids just don’t work as well as a conventional engine vehicle.

Unlike cars, trucks must be financially viable and perform in comparatively adverse work conditions which make hybrid/electric an especially poor choice. This explains to a great extend the fact that neither Ford nor Dodge, two leading North American truck manufacturers, do not offer hybrid powertrains.

A comparison of a conventional Dodge Ram, and Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid demonstrates the argument against hybrids.  The Dodge Ram is priced at $22,590 and is rated 18MPG in the city, and 25 MPG on the highway.  The Silverado hybrid is priced at $39,890 and is rated at 20 MPG city and only 23 MPG highway.  As Edmunds.com states, “ …….. not every hybrid-powered model makes sense. This full-size Chevy pickup is one of those that’s just plain hard to justify on the basis of both everyday drivability and the long-term bottom line……. the Silverado Hybrid has a couple of significant drawbacks, starting with the hybrid powertrain’s performance quirks and an unimpressive 6,100-pound towing capacity. The real deal-breaker, though, is its higher price…… All in all, we respect GM’s efforts here but simply can’t recommend buying a 2013 Chevy Silverado 1500 Hybrid.”

So why is the government spending billions of dollars of taxpayer money supporting such a questionable technology? Batteries have 1/100 the power by weight as fuel, so electric can never be a universal replacement of the conventional engine. Why is the government spending more billions supporting corn based ethanol production which consumes more energy to produce than it releases, and depletes food stocks?  Ethanol does emit fewer emissions per mile, but its lower energy content means that more has to be burned to go the same distance. Why were billions of dollars spent on fuel cells when the cost cannot be reduced, there is no fuel infrastructure and on-board fuel storage is highly problematic?

The answer, according to one academic paper delivered August, 2012 to the Energy Department, is for the government to stop spending hard earned taxpayer money, and let the free market determine the solution.  To quote, “… US policies should be “technology neutral” and depend on “market dynamics” to pick winners and losers.  It will take some kind of “disruptive innovation” to knock the internal-combustion engine from its perch, the report states.”

The ZED engine is that “disruptive innovation” which can replace the conventional engine because it can deliver a great increase in performance, and reduction in emissions, while being just another engine option installed in current vehicles, in current factories.  No other green-tech engine can make this claim.

Its interesting to note that hybrid buses are suffering the same high cost, poor performance fate as trucks. By example, four years after buying more than 170 hybrid buses, each costing more than regular diesel buses, OC Transpo (Ottawa, Canada) could be forced to turn all of them into strictly diesel buses in 2013. David Jeanes, president of Transport Action Canada, says the hybrid buses are inefficient.

“There is no doubt that they have been underperforming. We thought we’d get a lot more fuel efficiency out of these hybrid propulsion systems than we have gotten. And at this point they’re running out of warranty and we know the component maintenance parts are really high cost,” said Coun. Diane Deans, chair of the transit commission. “Each hybrid bus costs anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 more than regular diesel buses. The city made the investment because it hoped to save on fuel costs. Instead, the city spent $1 million more on diesel fuel than it expected to last year”, Deans said. “It also cost more than $7 million to replace the batteries on some hybrid buses last year”.

Craig Watson, president of the local transit union states, “They didn’t follow up on what was happening in other properties such as Toronto. The hybrid bus has not been successful anywhere.

In contrast, the clean burning, powerful ZED engine can power a bus while delivering superior operating features such as quiet operation, and exceptional low speed torque at the same cost, or less, than current diesel engines.