FedEx and UPS Add Electric-Drive Vehicles

FedEx’s Delivery EV

Despite all the buzz about electric cars, the reality is that it will take several years, maybe even a decade, before electric and hybrid cars will reach anything close to a mass market. Consumer adoption takes time, and therefore the environmental benefits of electric-drive vehicles will also have to wait. On the other hand, corporate and government fleets can move a lot faster to go electric and hybrid. That’s exactly what’s happening at UPS and FedEx.

UPS announced Tuesday that its fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles expanded from 50 hybrid-electric delivery trucks to 250. The new hybrid power system utilizes a conventional diesel engine combined with a battery pack to save fuel and reducing emissions. The 200 new hybrid delivery trucks are expected to reduce fuel consumption by roughly 176,000 gallons over the course of a year compared to an equivalent number of traditional diesel trucks. The trucks use lithium ion batteries, which offer faster recharging and last longer than the previous generation of hybrid batteries.

Beginning in late May, FedEx will add four electric delivery trucks to its Los Angeles fleet of 600 vehicles—in a pilot project exploring wider use of electric trucks in the US fleet. The five-ton truck, from Illinois-based Navistar, is capable of traveling 100 miles per charge but will be driven less than 50 miles per day by FedEx couriers. The electric delivery trucks make up a very small fraction of the FedEx’s fleet of 40,000 trucks—but the idea is to stimulate demand for electric vehicles and thereby reduce cost. FedEx first started pursuing fuel-efficient technologies in 2004, when the company has added 325 hybrid vehicles to its global fleet. That has saved an estimated 34 million gallons of vehicle fuel, or 750 million pounds of CO2 emissions, according to FedEx.

The US Postal Service is also getting into the game. Last June, it spent $210 million to buy about 6,500 vehicles that either are ethanol-capable, have gas-electric hybrid powertrains or use smaller gas engines.

A few months ago, Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY) introduced a bill to convert about 15 percent of the US Postal Service’s highly inefficient fleet of 142,000 local-delivery vehicles to electric drive over a three-year period. Those vans today average just 9 miles per gallon. The $2 billion price tag to complete this level of conversion will make the bill tough to pass. But you have to dream big, and start somewhere.

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  • ex-EV1 driver

    “Despite all the buzz about electric cars, the reality is that it will take several years, maybe even a decade, before electric and hybrid cars will reach anything close to a mass market.”

    I don’t see how you can state the above so positively as if it were a fact. It’s not a fact, its just the author’s or someone else’s opinion. What ‘reality’ is is completely unknown by the author or anybody else.

    This reminds me of early predictions by the conventional telephone industry pundits surrounding cellular phones. They talked about an addressable market of some 10,000s of units, levels which would take decades to reach. Conventional wisdom held that “why would you use a cellphone when most of the time you can just call from your desk or a payphone”.

    Let’s see what really happens: The average new car buyer replaces his/her car every 3 to 5 years. Today, hybrids don’t sit on the lot and the poor engineering in today’s models forces the buyer to make compromises (price and trunk space). Let’s see what people choose if they actually have a choice over the next few years.

  • Anonymous

    these delivery companies knows their future bottom line depends on fuel efficiency as gas prices are too unpredictable. it is within their interest to hedge against that possibility

  • Yegor

    I think that it should be a law that all new city deliver vehicles, taxis and city buses must be hybrids. Those vehicles are driven all day in the cities and considering the fuel savings they are actually less expensive for their owners than conventional cars. May be some people are not smart enough to understand it so it must be a law.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Please Yegor,
    No more laws. There aren’t very many laws governing delivery trucks now, that is the only way it is even economically feasible for someone like Fedex to even consider developing new technology for their trucks. If the government gets involved, the prices will skyrocket and nothing will get done.

  • Electric Now

    I agree with ex-ev1. The author is making ridiculous assumptions about what will happen. With gas prices at $3.00 per and most people getting new every 3 to 5. It will happen much faster. I am on the list for a new volt.

  • Max Reid

    As the gas prices go up, the transport related companies like USPS, Fedex, UPS, DHL etc will be the first to move over to these EVs.

    They can install a fast charger in few of their offices at 60K each.
    They tend to save money. It does not need any govt intervention.

    Later the cabbies and refuse operators will follow. For private car owners, we may just settle down for Plugins.

  • Anonymous

    Delivery trucks have no need to go fast and go far. Ford and Azzure Dynamic project is moving at a fast clip the past year. Ex FedEx leadership took positions on Azure’s board, and Johnson Controls bought a piece of Azure. Interesting article on the wire last week. I could use one of these vans 95% of the time, and just keep a gas car or rent a car for the occasional out-of-town trips. Van is not a dog and could replace my gas hog SUV. Plugs in at night on the standard 120v or 220v line. Nice!
    OAK PARK, MI, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ – Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD)(OTC: AZDDF), a world leader in the development and production of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles, announced today that it has completed its LEAD customer program for the innovative Ford Transit Connect Electric by signing agreements with its final two LEAD customers. The ninth LEAD customer is a Washington D.C. based governmental
    organization and the tenth is a world leading logistics organization which placed the single largest Transit Connect Electric order to date of 30 units. Neither organization can be named at this time. The LEAD program allowed blue chip government and commercial fleets the opportunity to receive one of the initial 2010 production units of the vehicles, which are currently being shipped on schedule. “These final two customers are well known organizations that are enthusiastic about their Transit Connect Electric acquisition, but prefer to make the announcement at a future
    point,” said Scott Harrison, Azure Dynamics chief executive officer. “The final two represent the government and commercial sectors and they are exactly the type of blue-chip organizations we had in mind when we created the LEAD program.” The LEAD customer program is now closed after achieving its objective of identifying ten premiere vehicle fleets to place early units in 2010 with volume orders for fulfillment in 2011. Those ten LEAD customers accounted for nearly 150 Transit Connect Electric vehicle sales. Moreover, the program created interest among target market
    sectors including energy producers, courier and delivery companies, utilities, private businesses and governmental organizations. The LEAD sales covered broad geographies with vehicle deployments planned in at least eight U.S. states and the province of Ontario. Vehicles will also be deployed in both Washington D.C. and Ottawa helping to build on demand among federal government organizations and national policy makers. “The LEAD customer program successfully targeted organizations that are critical to the increased acceptance and adoption of electric vehicles in North America,” said Harrison. “From top to bottom, our LEAD customers appreciate the unique environmental and operational benefits of the product itself and they will be integral in helping the technology get to market.” With the LEAD customer program completed on-time and on-schedule, Azure will open its Transit Connect Electric ordering system to other interested fleets in North America. The company also has initiated its European Transit Connect Electric sales efforts and expects to announce initial European orders in the coming months, with European production scheduled to begin in August, 2011. “We believe that our LEAD customers will become key product advocates,” said Harrison. “We’ve indentified the next wave of potential customers and are eager to begin our broader sales efforts to encourage other proactive, conscientious fleets to join the ranks of our LEAD Transit Connect Electric customers. We continue to be pleased with the initial response from our customers – current and prospective – who have expressed their willingness to join us
    in our effort to be Part of the Solution.” Commercial vehicle fleets are increasingly seen as the logical starting point for electric vehicles due to their typical drive cycles that often include travel on predictable, short-range, routes with frequent stop and go driving in tight urban or suburban environments. Commercial vehicles generally return to a central location at the end of a drive cycle making for convenient recharging over night. To create the Transit Connect Electric, Azure integrates its proven Force DriveTM electric powertrain into the award-winning Ford Transit Connect. Utilizing an advanced lithium-ion battery from Johnson Controls-Saft, Transit Connect Electric can achieve a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge and has a top speed of 75 mph. The battery is rechargeable using either a 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlet. Azure Dynamics will also provide
    its Force Drive electric powertrain for the Transit Connect Electric in Europe.

  • tapra1

    t. FedEx first started pursuing fuel-efficient technologies in 2004, when the company has added 325 hybrid vehicles to its global fleet. Windows Hosting Reviews