Pennington Gas Service buys a diesel/electric hybrid truck 2009.06.24

Written by David Green.


There’s always a Pennington Gas Service truck in Morenci’s Town & Country Festival parade and there will be again this year. pennington.hybrid.jpg

But the vehicle that will be entered Saturday morning is like none other in the country.

This marks the first time that Eaton Corporation’s diesel-electric hybrid  drivetrain system has been used in a hazardous material delivery vehicle.

Signature Truck Systems of Clio, Mich., built the Freightliner Business Class M2e truck for Pennington—an effort by three Michigan companies to move toward green technology, said Pennington Gas partner Keith Pennington.

Pennington said he attends a truck trade show every couple of years to keep abreast of changes in technology, particularly those that could apply to the propane industry. The hybrid got his attention.

The 60 horsepower electric motor can power a variety of commercial truck needs while the main diesel engine is shut down. In the propane business, that means the truck can be shut off while a customer’s tank is filled. The five- to 10-minute pumping operation can be handled by the electric motor. An entire stop at a customer’s house can take up to 20 minutes—all with the diesel shut off.

“This will improve safety, air quality and noise levels while making deliveries near homes or other buildings,” Pennington said.

The electric motor also assists the diesel engine while driving down the road. Pennington anticipates a reduction of at least 30 percent in diesel burned, which will both save money for the company and reduce the amount of emissions into the air.

Pennington ordered a smaller engine than usual for the truck, expecting the electric assist to fill the gap.

The electric motor also assists in the truck’s “launch” every time it starts from a stand-still position.

The electric motor is powered by energy generated during braking action and stored in large lithium-ion batteries.

Pennington looks forward to studying the data collected on diesel used to evaluate the validity of the system for the propane industry.

“It can’t make only environmental sense,” he said, “it has to make economic sense if it’s going to gain widespread use.”

The truck has been displayed at three propane industry events and Pennington said the response is split between those who give him a slap on the back and those who say “you’re crazy.”

“We’re a company that does things to see if they’re going to work,” Pennington said. “What we intend to do this summer is put it on the road to all of our local branches.”

The company wants customers to know about the truck because awareness and interest in green technology is growing. Ten years ago only a small percentage of Pennington Gas customers would have had much interest in the hybrid truck, Pennington believes, but that’s not the case today.

“People are concerned, and rightfully so, about the imported fuel that we rely on,” he said.

He would like to see propane emphasized more as a motor fuel and to convince Eaton there’s a market for propane-fueled trucks.

For now, it’s the diesel model that’s the focus of attention. Freightliner and Eaton will both be keeping close tabs on the performance of the vehicle to help Pennington Gas determine if it’s a good fit for the industry.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016