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The recent conversion of a Harvard Mail Services truck to a hybrid electric vehicle has dramatically reduced fuel consumption. As a result, the eight-month pilot program has cut the vehicle’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 22 percent. Now, in addition to delivering thousands of pieces of mail across the University, the van is also delivering a win for the environment.
In June 2013, Harvard Fleet Management joined with Boston-based XL Hybrids to retrofit the Mail Services Chevrolet Express van with an innovative, hybrid electric powertrain. The new technology increases efficiency and reduces fuel usage without sacrificing performance.
“We chose to pilot the use of this hybrid technology so that we can do our part to support Harvard’s commitment to sustainability, including the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across campus,” said David Harris Jr., director of Harvard Transit and Fleet Services. “Instead of buying a brand-new hybrid vehicle we were able to save money and increase the fuel efficiency of our existing fleet, resulting in an immediate return on investment.”
To convert the Mail Service van, XL Hybrids added an electric motor with a lithium ion battery pack and cutting-edge control software that increases fuel efficiency by charging the battery when drivers brake and releases energy to the motor when drivers accelerate. A review of the van’s on-road operational data showed a nearly 22 percent fuel and greenhouse gas emissions reduction over conventional cargo vans, yielding an annual CO2 reduction of over one metric ton per vehicle.