The prototype of a revolutionary Series Hydraulic Hybrid Yard Hostler made its debut at the 2009 SAE World Congress in Detroit, Michigan. APM Terminals joined efforts with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several other industry partners to integrate advanced hybrid powertrain technology into a port-service vehicle. The yard hostler, a type of vehicle used to move freight containers within a marine terminal and rail yards, will begin testing at APM Terminals Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, this summer.

The propulsion system is being presented at the SAE conference by FEV, Inc., a leading developer of vehicle technologies and a partner in the program. This is the first known use of the technology in a vehicle specifically designed for use in freight transportation.

The hydraulic hybrid propulsion system replaces a traditional vehicle transmission and driveshaft, and therefore there’s no direct connection between the engine and the wheels. Acceleration of the vehicle is achieved through a regenerative braking system that captures the energy normally lost during vehicle braking and then reuses it for the needed acceleration. This innovative energy recovery braking system could reduce vehicle brake wear by up to 75%.

The hybrid system controls were designed to automatically turn off the engine when it is not needed, such as during braking, slow cruising and during acceleration and deceleration when the stored hydraulic energy can be used.  Because many of a hostler’s working hours are spent waiting with the engine idling, the hybrid vehicle was also adapted to use different power steering and heating systems that operate with the engine turned off.  The EPA projects that each high efficiency yard hostler could save over 1,000 gallons of fuel per year, improve stop-and-go fuel efficiency by 50 to 60%, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30%. 

“APM Terminals places a high priority on environmental stewardship in managing our business and we are proud to partner with the EPA on this innovative project,” said Eric Sisco, president of APM Terminals Americas.  “We are continuously looking for ways to improve our environmental performance and will aggressively pursue projects that increase our efficiency and allow us to preserve and improve the environment. APM Terminals fully supports these technologies that have the potential to make positive changes in our operations and in the industry overall.”

The highly efficient and cost effective hydraulic hybrid propulsion system was developed as part of the EPA’s Clean Automotive Technology Program, which focuses on cost-effective technologies and encourages manufacturers to produce cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles. Other partners in the yard hostler project include Parker Hannifin, Kalmar Industries, FEV Inc., R.H. Sheppard Company, Inc., and Webasto. Additional support was provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.