Study: Medium-Duty Hybrids to Capture Sales

Jun 02, 2010

Medium-Duty hybrids are most likely to gain momentum as the top selling vehicles to North American fleets in the near future, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan and Fleet Owner.

A recent study by Frost & Sullivan said several key factors will affect fleet sales in the near future: the growth of “mega-cities,” resulting in more congested urban roadways; energy security; and the need to reduce emissions without excessive spending.  According to the firm’s global program manager Sandeep Kar, those issues should lead to more widespread use of class 4-6 hybrid vehicles.

“The major reason for wider hybrid adoption to start with is they don’t create any ‘infrastructure’ pressure,” he told FleetOwner. “They don’t require a new refueling or re-charging infrastructure as do natural gas or all-electric vehicles will. From an environmental standpoint, with battery power already onboard, they can reduce or eliminate engine idle time as well as overall fuel consumption, leading to lower emissions.”

Freight transportation within the boundaries of large cities will be a boon for the medium-duty hybrids, but that market share could be upset if pure electric vehicles become more viable for intra-city travel.

But don’t rush out to restock your fleet just yet; Mr. Kar still has some concerns over the viability of hybrids as fleet vehicles.

“Several challenges remain for hybrids, especially upfront and life-cycle cost benefits,” Kar noted. “Much of it relies on overcoming the initial price premium for hybrid trucks and payback in fuel savings, which can take 5 years or more. Price right now is the biggest challenge and it needs to be brought down.”

Photo courtesy of bradipo under the Creative Commons License