Freightliner - Enova electric van.
December 6, 2009 – Vol.14 No.38
THINK ELECTRIC TRUCKS FIRST.
by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News
If I were a gambling man I’d wager that fleet-operated, battery-electric urban delivery vans become a commercial success before battery-electric personal motorcars. The reasons are simple: Company image and solid balance sheet performance.
With company name, logo and clean-drive promotion emblazoned on the side, who wouldn’t notice the truck that was perfectly quiet and emitted no fumes or smoke? For those environmentally concerned, who wouldn’t choose between the company that operated the “green” trucks as opposed to the one that didn’t?
Depending on the nature of fleet operations, the balance sheet may justify the additional outlay for electric drive. On a spread sheet analysis, lower operating costs may prove the electrically-driven vehicle the winner over the diesel version. Companies that operate fleets don’t just drive vehicles, they manage them. Carefully charted daily and long term mileage that analyzes “electric fuel” cost, lower maintenance costs, longevity, and possible tax incentives could prove in favor of electric drive. The ability to own and operate their own electric refueling stations at company facilities may give another spread sheet nudge to electric drive.
Given the above arguments it’s no wonder that Ford in the U.S. has chosen to offer an electrified truck – the battery version of its Transit Connect commercial van – before it attempts to sell an electric car.
Ford has certainly been watching those companies already offering electric trucks such as Smith Electric Vehicles with which Ford already has a relationship. Smith continues to rack up new orders, including recently 51 Smith Edison electric vans to Sainsbury’s, a UK supermarket chain. The vans, built in on an electrified Ford transit chassis, will be used in Sainsbury’s online grocery delivery service. When added to the existing fleet of 20, Sainsbury’s will have the world’s largest electric van fleet. The retailer plans to eventually have 20% of its online delivery fleet operating on electrons.
And there are other seasoned truck builders entering the electric van business.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is teaming with electric-drive builder Enova Systems to offer a 10,000 lb payload van to North American fleets by 2010. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America .
And, Navistar International Corporation has announced that one of its wholly owned affiliates has signed a joint venture agreement with Modec Limited of the United Kingdom. The new company – the Navistar-Modec EV Alliance – will produce all-electric commercial trucks for sale in North, Central and South America. The distinctive, aerodynamic trucks are purpose-built to be electrically-driven and intended for urban work.
The trucks will have a carrying capacity of better than two tons and be able to travel 100 miles on a charge. Modecs will be produced in the U.S., in Elkhart County, Indiana, where Navistar intends to produce 400 units in 2010, and expects to be producing several thousand annually within two years. As volumes grow, Navistar anticipates the creation of up to 700 new jobs, including suppliers and employees.
Navistar is a holding company owning brands such as International Truck and IC Bus.
Modec, which was founded in 2004, already has dealers in France, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and Ireland. The company says its Modec is the first purpose designed and built vehicle of its kind.
Navistar received $39.2 million in government stimulus funding from the Department of Energy to develop and build all-electric trucks on U.S. soil.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation
Navistar International Corporation
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