Eaton announced enhancements that it says will increase the fuel economy, performance and payback of its hybrid drive system for commercial trucks, including a new high-capacity battery, a new single-phase 115-volt AC auxiliary power generator, a higher capacity clutch and a remanufactured battery for aftermarket purchase.

The high-capacity lithium-ion battery employs the latest battery cell architecture, said Kevin Beaty, product strategy and manufacturing operations and strategic sourcing manager, hybrid power systems. The battery more than doubles the engine-off capability of the system for job-site operations and has longer life.

This increases fuel savings of Eaton's hybrid power system by 5% to 10%, lowering the return-on-investment time while also improving vehicle performance.

"Not only will fleets realize greater fuel efficiency and reduced C02 emissions, but drivers will notice faster acceleration with the updated hybrid propulsion system," Beaty said. "The new battery is designed to allow for simplified servicing of internal components."

Eaton is also introducing a new single-phase 5-kilowatt auxiliary power generator (APG) this fall. The APG option converts high-voltage DC current from the battery to 115-volt AC current that can be used by any number of tools on the job site. The APG unit is more compact and 25 pounds lighter than Eaton's previous offering, which increases flexibility of installation.

"The new APG unit offers a soft-start function that can handle high inrush loads that require an immediate boost of power," notes Gerard DeVito, engineering director for Eaton hybrid power systems. "The APG is also a fully isolated system from the high-voltage battery, which eliminates the need for a separate isolating transformer to further reduce cost and weight."

Both the APG and the high-capacity battery will be available in the fourth quarter of this year for public utility applications. The new battery will be available for city delivery and beverage tractor applications in the third quarter of 2012.

Eaton is also offering higher capacity clutches that can handle engines producing up to 300 horsepower and torque of 860 pound-feet. This expands the hybrid system to heavier applications, including some tandem axle configurations.

The remanufactured battery will provide hybrid truck operators with an aftermarket replacement option "for a fraction of the cost of new service units," Beaty said. It will be available in July.

Eaton's diesel-electric hybrid system is a parallel type that incorporates an electric motor/generator between an automated clutch and an automated mechanical transmission. The system recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries. Electric torque is blended with engine torque, improving fuel economy and vehicle performance. It is ideal for stop-and-go applications.