Can electric trucks stand up to the rigors of daily heavy-duty work? That is the question Amp is trying to answer with a line of heavy-duty trucks and vans. Just last week, Amp delivered its first electric step van conversion to Navistar, boasting some serious heavy duty credentials. But is there a market for limited-range, heavy-duty vehicles? As it turns out, yes, a very large one.
Heavy Duty Electric Power
First, the question of what does “heavy-duty” entail? In this case, it is an electric Navistar step-van with a 19,500 lb. gross-weight capacity. You can haul a whole-lotta stuff with that kind of weight capacity, and the 1,000 cubic feet of storage space will allow for some pretty wide and long loads.
However, there is a catch; the electric step-van will have a range of just 100 miles. For some jobs, this is more than enough range, as research shows that most step-vans make over 200 stops a day, but travel under 100 miles. For other companies however, the limited range will mean that an electric vehicle can’t be the only option in the garage.
A Not-So-Crowded Field
Amp has already delivered its first conversion to Fed-Ex, though the most recent delivery was to truck-maker Navistar under a previously-announced development plant. What makes this interesting to me is that Navistar already built and sold its own electric step van, albeit one with about 7,000 pounds less payload capacity. The Amp vehicles are truly in a different class.
The market for electric trucks isn’t limited to only Amp and Navistar. Smith Electric Vehicles is also getting involved with its own electric vans, though oddly enough no major automaker has really taken the plunge to EV HD vehicles. Ford had been relying on Azure Dynamics to turn its Transit Connect vans into EVs, but Azure’s bankruptcy forced a halt to that.
That means the market is wide open, and Amp’s ability to affordably convert diesel vehicles to EVs could have a place in a world of ever-increasing fuel prices. Electric delivery trucks, coming to a neighborhood near you.