First-of-their kind vehicles meet demand of truck and bus market looking to save fuel. David Shepardson - The Detroit News - June 22, 2006 Photo by AP The UPS unveiled the first fully hydraulic hybrid-powered delivery truck on Wednesday. The trucks will be tested in Livonia this fall. WASHINGTON - In 1913, United Parcel Service employees traded their bicycles for Model Ts in a seminal shift in the delivery business. On Wednesday, the Atlanta-based shipper that delivers 15 million packages a day worldwide unveiled the world's first fully hydraulic hybrid-powered delivery truck, part of a surging interest in fuel-saving technology in the heavy duty truck and bus market. UPS will test the four-speed model and an experimental cousin - without a traditional transmission - in Livonia this fall. The hydraulic hybrid system is similar to an electric hybrid in only in that it captures energy typically lost while braking. Instead of storing the energy in a battery, it stores it in the form of pressure. In laboratory tests, the new truck achieved 60 to 70 percent better fuel economy and had a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The truck will save 1,000 gallons of fuel a year. If successful, UPS could begin replacing many of its 91,000 vehicles in the next few years. The hybrid system adds 15 percent or about $7,500 to the cost of a typical delivery truck. Congress also authorized tax incentives last year to promote hybrid trucks. UPS trucks get between 7.5 and 8.5 mpg when fully loaded and around 10 miles per gallon when empty. The company spends more than $1.4 billion annually on fuel. The hydraulic drivetrain replaces a conventional one and eliminates the need for a standard transmission. The hybrid system also shuts off the engine when not needed, cutting use in city driving by up to 50 percent. With rising gas costs, companies are eager to reduce fuel consumption. The American Trucking Association said last month the industry will spend $98 billion on fuel in 2006 - a $10.6 billion increase over 2005. "We're eager to see how the vehicle performs in a real-world setting," said John Beystehner, chief operating officer at UPS. "We believe the impact of this initiative will go far beyond our industry." John Kargul, EPA's director of technology transfer, said the vehicle could see as much as a 120 percent improvement in fuel economy in urban settings. "We think they will pay for themselves within three years," he said. Hybrid technology makes the most sense for city buses and delivery trucks, constantly in start-stop situations, Kargul said. Both DaimlerChrysler's commercial bus unit and General Motors Corp. have sold hundreds of hybrid-powered buses. GM plans to sell about 700 hybrid buses in cities around the nation by the end of the year. DaimlerChrysler is selling 500 hybrid busses to New York City.