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FedEx Express Commits to More EVs

June 4, 2012 in Electric Drive, EVs, Fleet Order by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

FedEx Express is boosting its all-electric fleet from 43 units to 130, evaluating vehicles from large companies and small. The goal is for the new battery trucks to be “delivering packages this summer.”

The San Francisco Bay Area is getting the most, with 34 trucks: 21 Smith Newtons and nine new Navistar International eStars (plus four reconditioned ones). All of the eStars have drivelines from the UK’s Zytek.

FedEx Express San Francisco Bay Area managing director Steve Seymour and (Memphis headquarters-based) asset manager Keshav Sondhi with Navistar eStar battery electric truck in Menlo Park, Calif. on May 22, 2012

The Newtons and eStars both use A123 lithium batteries, said FedEx Express asset group manager Keshav Sondhi.

He helped demonstrate the Navistar-built eStar, originated in the UK as the Modec battery truck, in Menlo Park, Calif. on May 22.

FedEx Express is also deploying eCell battery trucks from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp, and trucks from Amp Electric Vehicles (Loveland, Ohio) and Colorado’s Boulder Electric Vehicle.

“We need to work not with one manufacturer,” Sondhi told F&F.

Colorado’s Boulder Electric Vehicle has designed its electric truck from the ground up using lightweight aluminum honeycomb structures and a single, large, low battery pack that’s protected from the elements and lends stability to the vehicle.

Not in one region, either: FedEx Express will deploy battery trucks in Texas, New York City, suburban Washington (Rockville, Md.) and locales in Asia and Europe.

There will be two Boulder EVs each at Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Boulder EV is busily building vehicles of its own design, employing a lightweight structure with aluminum honeycomb composites and a proprietary battery pack with proprietary battery management system.

The single large Boulder pack is mounted low at the center of the vehicle where it is protected from the elements and makes the truck inherently stable.

Boulder EV claims better aerodynamics for better vehicle range.

“We don’t believe in conversions,” says marketing and sales chief Carter Brown. As for components, “We design so that we can drop in different brand cells and different motors and drivetrains.” The trucks for FedEx Express are being completed in Colorado, but Boulder EV is gearing up for production at a new plant in Los Angeles too.

The firm is designing a new, larger truck, Brown says, that will use the new PowerPhase 220 driveline from UQM Technologies.

FCCC trucks with two different drivetrains — from Enova Systems and Amp — will be compared in Washington, D.C.

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