UPS tests composite delivery truck – Click above to watch the video after the jump

UPS is known for its amazing level of efficiency, and that reputation could soon extend to fuel savings thanks to a prototype dubbed CV-23. The delivery company has ordered five of these prototypes to be tested through the end of 2011, but this is no ordinary next-generation package hauler.

The CV-23 weighs about a thousand pounds less than the typical UPS truck, thanks to the fact that it is made with composite materials instead of metal. The lightweight materials could help UPS deliver up to 40 percent better fuel economy than the current UPS fleet truck. Those kinds of fuel economy gains can pay huge dividends in rural areas where trucks are required to drive large distances. And since the body panels are plastic, bumpers, panels and other parts can be replaced easily.

Hit the jump to watch video of the CV-23 as it is tested by UPS management. If the company is sufficiently impressed, the guys and gals in brown could order more trucks, potentially saving 84 million gallons of fuel per year. We're guessing drivers will want to see some crash test data before seeing what brown plastic can do for them, but otherwise, this seems like a pretty good idea.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 55 Comments
      Kiiks
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope these vans perform totheir expectations. 40% gains in fuel economy is huge. On a related note, my local downtown UPS driver is a magician. He can back in to tight awkward spaces that I swear are smaller than his truck, always millimeters from hitting at least 3 different obstacles. His truck doesn't have so much as a single scratch on it. Meanwhile, my coworker with a Scion XB has to do a 19-point turn to get out of the same spot.
      rgee01
      • 4 Years Ago
      "40 percent better fuel economy than the current UPS fleet truck. Those kinds of fuel economy gains can pay huge dividends in rural areas where trucks are required to drive large distances. " Not quite. The average brown truck of happiness' route involves a lot of start-stop, which is where reduced weight really shines. Over longer distances and steady throttle, weight reductions don't really save any fuel. Rural routes don't involve as much stop and go. Still, glad to see this kind of innovation.
      poppopeyes
      • 4 Years Ago
      the ups man is my version of santa claus. they always bring the toys i order!
      Drew
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why would it be used in primarily long distance applications and not inner city? The lighter weight will only have an affect on acceleration which occurs far more often in the stop and go driving of a city than constant RPM cruising on the highways. To achieve the highest ROI I would assume they would use these in cities?
        paqza
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Drew
        I thought that was interesting as well. He also mentioned the narrower frame lends itself to city routes. I feel like they'll be switching all of them over in the long run, anyway.
      dom
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great job. Works all the way around helps the enviroment and helps corporate profit. This is how it will work in the end. People have to make money from it where there is a economic benefit to go greener.
      • 4 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Bob
      • 4 Years Ago
      What I'm thinking is that quite a few UPS drivers are going to return to their trucks with the body panels stripped off by armies of street punks with electric screwdrivers
      Db
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yup. Plastic. Produced via petroleum. Go, go oil!!! :)
        Hazdaz
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Db
        You only make those panels once. Oil, turned into gasoline/diesel, gets burnt each and every mile the truck runs which is why you want to maximize the miles that it can travel on each gallon of fuel.
        ckm
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Db
        Actually, most plastics are made from natural gas, not oil. Sorry...
      • 4 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Hazdaz
      • 4 Years Ago
      So this could save UPS 84 million gallons of fuel per year, and that's absolutely great, but making consumer cars and trucks fractionally more fuel efficient (like the CAFE rules have pushed for), would save us as a country many times that number of gallons of fuel per year.
        Fresh
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Your comment has nothing to do with this article. UPS can't do anything to encourage the automakers to raise their fuel efficiency. They are doing what they can to reduce their fossil fuel consumption and save the company money, which ideally saves their customers money.
          Hazdaz
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Fresh
          I don't get where you are getting this notion that I was saying that UPS is even trying to encourage automakers to raise their efficiency?? I was simply stating the fact that UPS uses a LOT of fuel for their business, so naturally they are trying to minimize that cost. I was pointing out that while UPS does indeed use a ton of fuel, us citizens are collectively using way the hell more so if we drove even slightly more fuel efficient cars, we could stop using many times that 84 million gallons of fuel number that UPS could potentially save. If everyone next car was a measly 5% more fuel efficient than the one they drive now (which is as minor as going from a 25 MPG car to a 26.3 MPG car) we collectively would reduce our gasoline consumption by about 7 BILLION gallons each year.
        kevsflanagan
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        While your comment is true you have to realize that UPS is doing this on their own and not under any orders from the US government. Personally I hope this makes other carrier service's rethink their fleets in the future.
          David
          • 4 Years Ago
          @kevsflanagan
          Yea! UPS isn't owned by the government, its not like the Federal Express! Wait what?
          rgee01
          • 4 Years Ago
          @kevsflanagan
          I think it will. It's just the market at work. Fuel costs go up, but UPS wants to preserve their profits and possibly even lower their prices (but I doubt that). You'll see this sort of innovation in lots of places in the market. You're already seeing a lot of businesses switching to those Ford Transit Connect vans, which are definitely a lot better than the old, huge E series panel vans.
        rgee01
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Yea. This story is about UPS. So... we're talking about UPS. Not about everyone else.
      cashsixeight
      • 4 Years Ago
      Actually cutting the weight will not improve mileage on the highway. It will only help during periods of acceleration, which is more common in the stop and go city situations than the highway. Once a vehicle is moving at a constant speed, mass is kind of irrelevant. You don't know what you are talking about. Sorry.
        Greg
        • 4 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        Rolling resistance is a function of mass which is a factor at any speed. So you are wrong. Sorry.
        cashsixeight
        • 4 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        No, actually I'm not. mass does not matter much at all at a constant speed. It will have a much larger effect in stop and go driving, which is the opposite of rural driving. Now run along and pretend to be smart somewhere else, Gregory.
          Greg
          • 4 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          Ummm, I suppose compared to inertial forces rolling resistance is minor. In a constant speed environment rolling resistance accounts for about 25% of the total vehicle road load (at highway speeds). So as far as I'm concerned reduced mass improves both highway and city driving. Not to mention better ride and handling, squeak and rattle, braking, and acceleration performance.
          wakeofasmile
          • 4 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          Denial of everybody and assertion of your superiority by telling them to stop talking when you are clearly wrong = moron. Go back to fifth grade, and when you grow up feel free to comment again.
      Rogelio
      • 4 Years Ago
      doesn't plastic get crispier and weaker when it sits in the sun for a couple years? Sounds like an idea that is long overdue though.
        the.ting
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Rogelio
        "Plastic" is a pretty general term though, often includes composites and thermoplastics. Composites can be coated with UV resistant resins. Plus there are UV resistant paints available, which are already in use in conventional finishes (clear coat), to prevent fading of the coats of colored paint below it. Cudos for UPS for trying, glad someone is. This begs the question: shouldn't the auto industry (and trucking too) be at the fore-front of this instead of a shipping company?!
          gary
          • 4 Years Ago
          @the.ting
          This is not new technology, just a new application. The car companies (primarily GM) did bring this idea to market first. Saturn in particular was "all-in" on polymer panels until the mid-2000's. One reason they did away with them was that they could no longer meet customer's increasing expectations for panel fit-and-finish. This is not so much of an issue for a commercial vehicle.
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