KING COUNTY, WA – With just 7,300 miles on its odometer, one of King County’s newest work trucks is already proving its worth. It may look like other trucks that are used to hoist workers into the air to repair traffic signals or maintain roadside trees – but this one is the first that runs on a hybrid-electric system.
The King County Department of Transportation (KCDOT) put the new medium-duty lift truck into service in October, and after four months the county is already seeing a 25-percent fuel savings for the vehicle.
“When I found out that Kenworth was about to unveil its first production of hybrid trucks, I wanted King County to be the first governmental agency to purchase one,” said King County Executive Ron Sims.
“The first months in operation are showing that taxpayers are getting a double payback on this truck, with both operational and environmental benefits.”
KCDOT Director Harold Taniguchi said Sims has pushed the department to continue its efforts to be one of the greenest transportation agencies in the nation.
KCDOT’s Fleet Administration Division Director Windell Mitchell said the new lift truck has already achieved a 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to conventional diesel trucks in the fleet. This contributes to more efficient operations by the crews, because they can remain in the field for longer periods of time without refueling. Mitchell said not only is the new truck using less fuel when it’s moving between jobs, but also when it’s stationary.
“On our non-hybrid trucks, the motor has to be running for the lift to operate,” said Mitchell. “With this truck, the lift operates off the energy stored in the hybrid battery. That’s both cheaper and quieter.”
Mitchell headed up efforts to form a consortium of local and state government agencies interested in taking hybrid vehicle technology to the next level with the production of medium and heavy-duty work trucks. Together, they have opened the market for hybrid diesel-electric truck purchases, and also serve as a testing ground to provide on-the-road experience, data collection, and analysis of the new trucks. Through the purchasing power of the consortium, Mitchell was able to negotiate a deal so that King County did not have to pay a premium for the hybrid system.
The new Kenworth lift truck will soon be joined in the fleet by an International hybrid vehicle hauler, and an International lift truck will come on board this summer. As other trucks in the fleet age and need to be replaced, Mitchell said the plan is to purchase new hybrid trucks whenever possible.