Oshkosh to develop hybrid electric drive technology with federal grants

Oshkosh Truck Company recently received two grants from the Department of Energy and Department of Defense totaling $5 million to help develop hybrid electric drive technology.

Hybrid drives help increase fuel economy by combining fossil fuel-powered engines and electric generators to store energy. In 2000, Oshkosh introduced a Pro-Pulse heavy-payload defense truck. When used in the mass market for heavy trucks, the technology is expected to boost fuel economy by as much as 40 percent, according to Oshkosh.

“There is little doubt that hybrid electric drive technology will lead to the development of an entirely new generation of highly mobile and incredibly efficient trucks,” Oshkosh’s chairman, Robert G. Bohn said. “We are grateful to the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense for their support of these initiatives.”

As part of the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oshkosh will receive a $4.5 million grant. In addition, the company will also receive $500,000 in research grants from the Department of Defense’s National Automotive Center and U.S. Army Tank Armaments Command for development of its technology in military vehicles.

OshKosh’s ProPulse technology helps create efficiency by eliminating the torque converter, automatic transmission, transfer case and drive shafts by using a diesel engine to power an electric generator. The generator then directs power to the wheels. The diesel engine is optimized to run at the most efficient speed based on power demand, and by using stored energy, transient loads to the engine are eliminated.

According to Bohn, the new technology will be an enormous breakthrough in the refuse hauling and defense truck sectors. A couple of the advantages of the system include a smaller logistics footprint that requires no batteries and advanced safety technology that allows users to discharge all stored energy from the truck.