Case Study

Decreasing Emissions, Increasing Power

Hyliion® Hybrid Delivers Maximum Performance for Wegmans
Mar 21, 2023
Wegmans Hybrid
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OVERVIEW

Wegmans — a community-minded supermarket chain serving the east coast—views sustainability as everyone’s responsibility and began adopting CNG-powered trucks into its delivery operations in 2014. CNG is the cleanest burning transportation fuel on the market and the only sustainable, near-zero emission fuel currently available. With a focus on sustainability, building a fleet powered by alternative fuel was truly an easy decision for Wegmans. However, the transition to cleaner vehicles wasn’t going to be as straightforward as the company hoped.

THE CHALLENGE

Though switching from diesel-fueled trucks to CNG ones may seem like a simple tradeoff, Wegmans quickly learned that their new CNG trucks were not the same powerful workhorses as their diesels when it came to pulling tandem trailers or climbing hills. The company had to decide whether to return to their “dirtiest diesels”–named so because of their extremely high fuel consumption–to accomplish these tasks, or to push on and search for new technology that would bring their sustainability goals back within reach.

Historically, one of the biggest limitations with the CNG driveline, which holds true for our first-generation CNG trucks, is its lower horsepower and torque output that limits the amount of weight you can haul. In order to pull tandem trailers and maintain safe highway speeds while going up steep grades, a power boost was mission-critical for Wegmans, so they looked to Hyliion for the solution.

Hyliion answered the call and was ready to tackle this challenge to help Wegmans reduce its diesel dependency and improve its carbon footprint.

THE SOLUTION

Guided by Wegmans’ unique challenge of using CNG trucks to pull heavy loads over very hilly terrain, Hyliion developed a customized algorithm to alter how the Hybrid powertrain captures and applies energy.

In what later became known as “Power Assist” applications, energy is captured when traveling downhill and when braking. It’s then conserved and used in a focused manner to provide additional power when needed, such as on uphill grades. This additional power allows the truck to perform as if it has a larger engine under the hood. With this development, Hyliion is now able to provide two different applications for the Hybrid: Fuel Savings for diesel applications and Power Assist for CNG applications.

Hyliion’s proprietary software technology is the driving force behind the entire system, which is designed to maximize output according to the desired objective, utilizing numerous systems, terrain, and data inputs. For instance, the Terrain Look-Ahead technology analyzes up to 25 miles of terrain ahead of the vehicle, allowing for the precise capture and usage of energy.

By adding the Hybrid solution as a power assist, Wegmans has been able to further the adoption of CNG technology that can successfully pull tandem trailers, while continuing to march down the path of decarbonizing its fleet. These goals are made achievable thanks to the vastly improved torque and horsepower output on the key hills that previously were only viable for diesel-powered tractors.

When debating the switch to CNG-powered trucks, consider this: compared with their diesel counterparts, natural gas vehicles produce significantly lower carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other toxic emissions, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

With each CNG truck, Wegmans is eliminating the use of approximately 17,500 gallons of diesel each year. Additionally, they anticipate being able to keep each CNG truck in service for seven to 10 years, compared to five years for a diesel. These two factors combined add up to be impactful benefits for the environment and trucking operation costs.

On top of that, when companies like Wegmans properly maintain CNG engines, they find them less expensive to upkeep than diesel engines.

Since Wegmans is always willing to try new innovations, it has made a great partner for Hyliion. Together, the two companies tackled challenges and achieved seemingly impossible goals with breakthrough technology and a fail-fast mentality

Hyliion and Wegmans continue to look to the future and are committed to decarbonization, driver safety, and lowering total cost of ownership.

*Compared to diesel – https://freightliner.com/blog-and-newsletters/the-benefits-of-compressed-natural-gas-vs-diesel

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