MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. – There's good news for the economy and environment in North Carolina. Daimler Trucks North America celebrated the production of its 1,000th hybrid electric vehicle.
While just a small percentage of total production, company and union leaders expect the green movement could mean hundreds of new jobs in the Carolinas.
"It made me feel proud because I know how hard workers here build quality product," said Ricky McDowell, United Auto Workers Union Leader in Mount Holly.
A year ago, many Freightliner workers were unemployed, but now they're back to work
Thursday, Daimler celebrated the production of the 1000th hybrid electric vehicle.
"Our hybrid electric vehicles are engineered to maximize efficiency, minimize fuels use, reduce emissions," said Roger Nielsen, Chief Operating Officer for Daimler.
The concept is simple. When the truck brakes, the energy is stored and then used to help the truck later accelerate.
"This is energy that otherwise would be completely wasted," said Nielsen.
"We've seen hybrid trucks save delivery trucks 20 – 40 percent in fuel," said Dave Bryant, Vocational Sales Manager with Daimler.
It's an economical and environmental savings. It will also help with a new goal of President Obama, reducing energy dependence.
"Our step here with hybrids trying to help the country depend less on foreign oil," said Nielsen.
For workers at this Mt. Holly plant, some who were laid off, hired back and laid off again, it means security.
"If the economy continues to improve, we're going to add jobs here and all over North America," said Nielsen.
Since the low point last year, 250 workers were rehired. They see the hybrid as the vehicle for their own success.
"I think it's going to mean more jobs because we're planning for the future," said McDowell. "The hybrid truck is the future."
Duke Energy, U.P.S., Coca-Cola are companies already using these hybrid electric trucks.
Only 8 percent of the trucks produced at this Mount Holly plant are hybrid electric. The cost is 40 – 50 percent higher than the standard diesel truck.
Government grants are helping to lower the cost for companies to purchase these hybrid electric trucks.
Click here for more information on Daimler Trucks.