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December 01, 2020   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Hybrid Technology Powers More than Just Cars and SUVs

Latest advancements in efficient diesel engines are coupled with state-of-the-art energy storage system to deliver powerful hybrids that get the job done while reducing emissions.


When it comes to hybrid technology, many of us are probably aware of hybrid passenger cars and SUVs. Driving through urban areas, you may even see hybrid transit buses. These technologies play a critical role in saving fuel, reducing emissions while providing the performance and other attributes needed. Hybrids are also playing an important role in other applications that may not be so visible. Construction and agricultural equipment manufacturers are incorporating energy storage capabilities like hybridization in popular equipment types. Even marine vessels and ferries are incorporating hybrid systems. We have provided some background information concerning the adoption of hybrid technologies in these often overlooked by key sectors of the economy.

Off-road equipment plays a vital role in our economy and will likely play an outsized role in the future. Agricultural equipment feeds us and the world. Construction equipment plays a key role in building for the future and will be vital to make sure that our infrastructure keeps our economy moving. Marine vessels, ferries and workboats help get us where we need to be while facilitating global commerce. The latest advancements in both efficient diesel engines are coupled with state-of-the-art energy storage system to deliver powerful hybrids that get the job done while reducing emissions.

Construction Equipment

Hybrid technology is ready and able to keep iconic pieces of off road equipment moving while reducing emissions and saving energy. For contractors, fuel is often the second leading cost center and solutions that deliver big fuel savings help their bottom line and can reduce emissions that benefit all of us. One of the most iconic pieces of off-road equipment found on jobsite across the country is an excavator. Equipment giant Caterpillar developed a series of hybrid systems that makes the most of kinetic energy stored during the equipment’s use – like a swinging arm – to boost efficiency. These solutions deployed on a Caterpillar 336E excavator can boost fuel efficiency by 33 percent.

Agricultural Machines

Farm machines do quite a lot of work and the latest advances in hybridization can really improve efficiency. Farm equipment has a lot of acreage to navigate and a lot of different jobs to perform. Imagine a diesel engine, providing prime motive power, coupled with battery storage capabilities to provide power to implements. Agricultural equipment giant John Deere developed its eAutoPower technology that uses a diesel engine in conjunction with battery electric solutions to deliver up to 100kW of mechanical power delivered to farm implements. 

Marine Vessels

It’s probably hard to imagine a hybrid ferry or tug boat, but they are here!  2018 saw the first introduction of a 600 passenger diesel hybrid ferry operated by the Red and White Fleet in San Francisco Bay. The Enhydra couples two 410 horsepower Cummins diesel engines along plug-in battery capabilities. The vessel can operate independently of its diesel engines and switch to diesel propulsion when battery capabilities are depleted. Even bigger vessels are hybrid capable. Much larger tugboats and pushboats are designed for hybrid capabilities. Great Lakes Towing, operating in Lake Erie, can cut fuel consumption in half through its fleet hybrid tugs that rely on 1,000 horsepower MTU diesel engines coupled with battery storage capabilities.

As consumers, we are likely aware of the growing popularity of hybrids as options for cars and trucks. This technology delivers the performance we want with superior fuel economy. The same holds true for off-road machines and equipment. Hybrid solutions are now finding their way into the powertrains of very large pieces of equipment and even ferry boats and tug boats. These hybrid systems are delivering the power, durability and performance required of this equipment vital to our economy while reducing fuel use and emissions that benefit us all.

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Key Contact

Allen Schaeffer
Executive Director
aschaeffer@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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