Hybrid Isuzu truck being tested by DHL in SA

But no future rollout plans have been confirmed

The first hybrid Isuzu truck has been delivered to a South African company.

However, it is far too early to get excited about Elf diesel hybrid trucks, which use Isuzu’s original hybrid system optimised for light-duty trucks, being available in South Africa.

Denise van Huyssteen, Executive for Corporate Affairs at Isuzu SA, says the truck was imported from Japan for test purposes only. “No future roll-out plans have been determined,” she said when asked if South African businesses can look forward to these trucks being available in the country.

Marco Teixeira, automotive director of DHL Supply Chain SA, says DHL has committed to Zero Emissions by 2050 globally.

“We are looking at new and innovative ways to power our vehicles to meet this objective and find a way to keep fuel costs under control in an increasingly competitive market with rising fuel prices. We are testing hybrid vehicles in our fleet to understand their commercial and operational value.”

If DHL finds any benefits during the test phase, it will engage truck OEMs locally to understand the feasibility of making such technology commercially available to the local market. DHL South Africa will continue to seek out further opportunities to test vehicles with clean fuel sources in the meantime.

“DHL believes it is important to use hybrid trucks to ensure it plays its part in helping the environment and to ensure that we remain at the forefront of innovation and stay relevant at all times,” Teixeira explains.

“We cannot underestimate the damage CO² emissions cause to the environment and we must therefore all play our part to help the planet. As a business, we are constantly seeking ways of reducing our CO² footprint.

“As a business, we pride ourselves on being thought leaders and we must champion innovation and invention to maintain that approach. A hybrid fleet in South Africa would ensure we keep to this ethos,” Teixeira says.

According to the Isuzu website, its diesel hybrid vehicles are designed for low pollution and energy saving by using dual power sources.

Isuzu based this hybrid system on the 4HL1 diesel engine, which has an electric motor assisting the diesel engine. It also uses the Smoother-E automatic shift system, which Isuzu says offers high-efficiency regenerative energy and automatic shifting if the truck is used in fuel-saving speed ranges.

The Hybrid Isuzu truck uses a Lithium-ion battery that reportedly lasts about three times longer than nickel metal hydride battery equivalents. The battery is charged from electricity generated by the motor via an inverter, which converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) and the reverse, as needed.

The Hybrid Isuzu truck uses a PTO-type parallel drive hybrid system, with the motor and generator installed on a different shaft as the engine, which means that the truck can drive on the diesel engine only, without interference to the engine driveline.

The motor helps with starting and accelerating or when the truck has a heavy load when the truck runs on the engine and the battery. When the truck slows down, the generator converts kinetic energy into electricity.

The hybrid Isuzu truck has many benefits.

Apart from low-CO² emission levels, Elf diesel hybrid trucks are highly fuel-efficient, because the engine extracts all the available energy when the truck slows down, achieving excellent fuel economy compared to other hybrid vehicles.

Elf diesel hybrid trucks also do not need any special infrastructure and they can be serviced anywhere. They are very durable and meet the requirements for safety performance.

The Smoother-E automatic shift, which is standard, eliminates the need for clutch adjustment or replacement, which reduces maintenance costs significantly and eliminates clutch problems on the road.

The 4HL1 engine has a displacement of 4 777cc, a maximum output of 95kW at 3000 rpm, maximum torque of 333Nm at 1 500rpm, a common rail fuel injection system and a DPD post-processing system.

The motor/generator of Elf diesel hybrid trucks generates 25.5 kW with its 346V Lithium-ion battery and PWM inverter.

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