Hybrid Trucks For Napa Wine Company

By dancurranjr On August 13th, 2008

A Napa wine trucking company backed by wine mogul Jess Jackson took delivery Tuesday of two first-of-their-kind hybrid trucks expected to substantially reduce emissions and diesel fuel use.

VinLux Fine Wine Transport, a joint venture between the Jackson Family Wines and Biagi Brothers wine trucking company, said it expects its two new Peterbilt hybrids to be at least 30 percent more fuel efficient than similar vehicles.

With diesel fuel costs around $5 a gallon in California, the cost savings to VinLux are expected to be substantial.

“If you’re in the trucking business, you’re looking for every way you can to save,” said Tom Tunt, president of VinLux, which opened in February.

The company will begin using the hybrids today to deliver wines from its Napa warehouse to restaurants and retailers in San Francisco. The company has 35 other trucks making deliveries from two warehouses to 9,000 accounts in California.

The medium-duty trucks are the first of their kind to be sold by Peterbilt. They rolled off the assembly line at a Peterbilt a plant outside Montreal about a month ago, said Bill Jackson, general manager of Peterbilt Motors.

The vehicles were jointly developed with the Cleveland-based Eaton Corp., which has spent years developing a hybrid drive system for heavy vehicles.

The electric-diesel hybrid system is similar to the one in popular passenger vehicles like the Toyota Prius. Its so-called “parallel hybrid system” has an electric motor that assists the mechanical diesel engine with supplemental power during acceleration. Powerful lithium ion batteries are then recharged through a regenerative braking system, according to Peterbilt.

“This is exactly the type of innovation needed to reduce diesel exhaust,” Lynn Terry, deputy director of the California State Air Resources Board, said in a statement. “By scaling up the hybrid technology to be practical for this workload, Peterbilt has given industry access to the strength of diesel engines but with the added ability to apply it precisely when needed.”

Diesel engines account for 70 percent of the dangerous particulate in the state’s air, according to Dimitri Stanich, board spokesman.

The board is preparing to implement strict regulations on diesel trucks as early as 2010.

The new hybrids cost about 40 percent more than a basic diesel truck, but the fuel savings should offset the extra cost in about 3 years, Tunt said.

The diesel savings could be between 1,450 and 1,800 gallons per year per vehicle, he said, or $7,000 to $9,000 at current diesel prices.

The company purchased the hybrids not just to save money but because it fits with its philosophy of using cutting edge technology to deliver better service.

“We have a number of green initiatives that are under way, but this one goes to the top of the list,” Tunt said.

Source: Press Democrat

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