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Wine Deliveries by Hybrid

VinLux takes delivery of first Peterbilt semis for greener wine shipments

by Paul Franson
Hybrid Peterbilt truck
The hybrid trucks are most valuable in congested urban traffic.
Napa, Calif. -- VinLux Fine Wine Transport, a warehousing and delivery service in Napa, has received the first two production-model hybrid electric-diesel medium-duty trucks produced by Peterbilt Motors Company.

VinLux adds the new vehicles to its fleet of 35 delivery trucks, using them initially in urban areas like San Francisco where they return greatest fuel savings.

Fred Biagi, a co-owner of VinLux, expects fuels savings of 40 to 50% for the trucks, which cost about 40% more than equivalent trucks powered solely by diesel, although Bill Jackson, general manager of Peterbilt and vice president of its parent PACCAR, only claims a more conservative 30 to 50% fuel saving for the trucks.

He says that with typical use, trucks burn through about 2,400 gallons of diesel fuel per year, close to $10,000 at today's cost.

The trucks are also eligible of federal tax credits of $6,000 or $12,000, as well as some state and local credits. Jackson predicts a 20- to 30-month payback.

In reducing fuel consumption, the hybrid system also reduces emissions significantly. Peterbilt claims 55% less hydrocarbons, 50% less carbon monoxide and 45% less nitrogen oxide emissions than from a conventional powertrain.

The Peterbilt model 330 is the company's first production hybrid electric truck. It is a class 6 truck with gross weight up to 26,000 lbs., and shares many features with the larger class 7 model 335, which has a gross vehicle weight up to 33,000 lbs.

The new power train used in both trucks incorporates an Eaton 60hp, 310-ft.-lb., 340V electric motor/generator between the conventional PACCAR PX-6 six-cylinder diesel engine and the Eaton transmission. In effect, the electric motor and six-cylinder engine replace an eight-cylinder motor, providing additional power and torque when needed and charging the battery system. The generator/motor also recharges the batteries during braking, which reduces brakepad wear.

AHybrid Peterbilt truck
Vinlux' new hybrid heads out on its deliveries.
The battery pack consists of two lithium ion batteries weighing only 110 lbs. If conventional lead acid batteries were used, it would take 28, with a total weight of 1,900 pounds. Peterbilt chief engineer Landon Sproull predicts a battery life of six to seven years, but says the batteries should be easily replaceable with new technology if it becomes practical.

The dashboard of the truck contains a visual display similar to that in a Prius hybrid car to tell the driver what's happening and allow him or her to minimize fuel usage.

In the current system, the truck's refrigeration runs from the diesel engine, but Peterbilt has introduced other trucks incorporating refrigeration that operates from batteries, which can reduce idling, a huge source of fuel use. The company is working on such systems for the hybrid trucks with suppliers.

Peterbilt has also developed other fuel-saving technologies, including aerodynamic styling, larger hybrid trucks, LPG trucks, and systems that store energy in hydraulic systems to assist start-up.

VinLux is a joint venture between Biagi Bros. Warehousing & Transportation and Jackson Family Estates, the wine company owned by Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke. VinLux delivers premium and luxury wines to more than 9,000 wholesale, retail and restaurant accounts throughout California.

It has warehouses in Northern California and Southern California, and transports 700 orders per day in temperature-controlled trucks. Its president is Tom Tunt. Its web site is

Peterbilt, is a well-known supplier of large trucks. It is part of PACCAR Inc., and based in Denton, Texas. Its web site is
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