Today FedEx took the wraps off of its latest alternative vehicle endeavor, unveiling four purpose-built electric delivery trucks for the US market. The four EVs will enter service in the Los Angeles area this June and will take their place among 1,800 other alternative-fuel and -propulsion FedEx vehicles that the company currently has deployed and in testing around the world.
“In 2004, we were the first global company to invest in hybrid-electric commercial trucks, and now we’re introducing the even cleaner all-electric parcel delivery truck,” said John Formisano, vice president of Global Vehicles at FedEx Express, in a statement. “We’re making these investments, and invite others to join us, so that together we can speed the transition to a cleaner transportation system.”
FedEx says they are proud to be working within the marketplace to find EV solutions instead of trying to create their own proprietary technology. Two of the trucks are built and designed by Navistar in Indiana and are based on the Modec platform that FedEx already uses in Europe. FedEx has ten Modec EVs serving the greater London area and has five more on order to serve Paris. The other two FedEx EVs are coming from an as yet unnamed manufacturer.
“This all-electric vehicle project has been a bit more challenging than the implementation of the hybrid-electric delivery vehicles we have deployed (we started with four of them in 2004, and are operating more than 300 now),” said Formisano in a blog post on the FedEx website. Apparently their EV “was purpose-built, meaning every system in the vehicle [was] designed, tested and built from scratch. To build an entire vehicle from scratch tests the mettle of automotive engineers and customers alike,” he continued.
FedEx says that both manufacturers have designed and built EVs that, on one charge, will allow FedEx couriers to do a full 8 hour shift. Part of the reason it has been so challenging for FedEx to obtain more of these vehicles is that right now the batteries are extremely cost prohibitive. By themselves, the 80 kWh battery needed to take these EVs 100 miles with a full load each cost more than a “large luxury sedan.” Even so, FedEx sees EVs as having a real future in their fleet.
“Electric trucks are still in their infancy, but we think they have a bright future in the mix of alternative energy vehicles,” said Mitch Jackson, vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability at FedEx Corp. “Reliability and maintainability is critical for FedEx because of our commitment to superior customer service, so we’ll be giving these trucks a real workout, helping the manufacturers refine their future offerings.”
To kick off the countdown to when the vehicles enter service in June, FedEx held a ceremony in Chicago today, after which one of the EVs will go on a demonstration tour between Chi-town and LA, making several stops along the historic Route 66.