NBC unveils eco-friendly satellite truck


NBC Universal's push toward green business is sweeping over its newsgathering operation.

During Monday morning's "Today" show, the network is scheduled to take the wraps off what it calls the "mean green streaming machine," a hybrid SUV that leaves less of a footprint as it collects and transmits news from the road.

The white and green Ford Escape hybrid uses not only electric and gasoline power but also solar panels and wind turbines to recharge the batteries for its electronics gear.

"We're trying to get as much of these good technologies together and put them into a lightweight, fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle," said Marc Weinstock, technical manager for NBC in New York.

Like all hybrid vehicles, this one uses a combination gasoline and electric engine when racing to the scene of breaking news. The three deep-cycle batteries can run the various satellite and cell phone video technology -- all air-quality -- for between five or six hours. The electronics can be recharged while stopped using solar panels rolled out on a type of mat or large wind turbines that are hoisted on two portable masts.

NBC News will put this vehicle on the road immediately, sending it on the road for MSNBC's coverage of the Pennsylvania primaries. The vehicle will be based in New York like some of the network's other 14 satellite trucks, but it will spend less time in the garage.

The network spent about $100,000 to buy the Escape and then outfit it, compared with about $500,000-$1 million for the typical satellite. It runs less than 20 amps for the entire system, compared with about 60 amps for the typical satellite truck.

Not that everything's been gravy; there are some kinks to be worked out on the solar and wind-charging side. On Friday, it was a beautiful spring day, and there wasn't enough wind to really give the charging a test.

"Our wind tests have been tough," Weinstock said.