• Feb 3rd 2012 at 10:06AM
  • 25
It's been a couple years since we first saw the Boulder Electric Vehicle prototype in action but now comes word that the company has delivered its very first production vehicle. The initial DV-500 (as it is affectionately called) has been sold to Denver-area Precision Plumbing,Heating & Cooling who have made a commitment to buy 20 of the all-electrics at a very reasonable-sounding $70,000 apiece.

In addition to obvious changes in appearance, its performance also differs slightly from the original. The production version boasts an 80-kWh battery pack made up of China-sourced lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cells that weigh in at 1,300 lbs and are said to be good for 120 miles of range. Power comes from an 80-kW AC motor that gives the 7,000-lb truck a 70 mile-per-hour top speed. Charging can take up to eight hours.

Precision Plumbing's Tom Robichaud says that despite the higher up-front costs, he expects to save $6,000 to $8,000 per vehicle per year in lower operating costs and anticipates the trucks to be good for 300,000 miles. Currently, he says, the Sprinter vans he uses now are replaced after 100,000 miles. In anticipation of the electric fleet, the company has also installed a solar array at its facilities.

Boulder Electric Vehicle reportedly has five production lines set up and is busy building the vehicles for Precision and other customers. The company also has plans for a bigger truck that doubles the 500 cubic foot capacity of the DV-500. Hit the jump for a couple clips featuring Mr. Robichaud and his new promotionally wrapped plumbing van.





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's what the owner of Precision Plumbing said. However, as someone who's been surprised both ways by the reliability of vehicle's I've owned, it may be a little premature to bank the savings. But, still, somebody's gotta try it first, and that guy stepped up to the plate -- bravo! Hopefully all will go according to plan, and they'll show us all how it's done. Also, bending someone's ear over EVs goes over a lot better when the topic is "here are some cool trucks that just entered commercial service" rather than "I'm going to try to convince you to give up your car, and drive a new kind of car that doesn't actually exist yet!" (The LEAF isn't available in my area yet, though I did see a Volt at the grocery store the other day. So, for all practical purposes, EVs are still garage-built hot-rods in my neighborhood for now.)
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another milestone addition to the EV light commercial fleet. Well done Boulder Electric Vehicles! Commercial EV's are easier to sell to business than personal transport, since aesthetics and other extraneous motives are excluded from the buying equation. The economic logic of switching to electric can be conclusively demonstrated and the person making the buying decision is focused on efficient technology not prejudice or emotion.
      Warren
      • 3 Years Ago
      "80-kWh....China-sourced lithium iron phosphate....1,300 lbs" Either a typo, or a misquote. LiFePO4 will weigh 50% more than that. Even the more exotic chemistries run by the big car makers won't do that with safe packaging.
        Dave D
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Warren
        Uhhhh, guys.....I think their numbers are correct: Lithium phosphate is about 150Wh/kg. 80,000wh/150Wh/kg = 533.33 kg 533.33kg = 1173lbs. Add in some overhead for packaging, etc...and 1,300 pounds sounds pretty damn close to me. Now, everyone tell ABG and Boulder Electric Vehicles that you are sorry for doubting them :-)
          Dave D
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave D
          Hey DaveMart, I hear you guys are getting frozen over and snowed in this weekend. Yeah, I really should have used the "up to 140Wh/kg" that Electrovaya advertises for their lithium phosphate rather than some of the less credible claims for 150Wh/kg I've seen. But even at 140Wh/kg, it still comes in below the 1,300lbs for the batteries....of course, you still have to throw in the weight for the packaging and stuff. I assume they were just referring to the cells here.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave D
          Aha! We didn't read carefully enough: 'The production version boasts an 80-kWh battery pack made up of China-sourced lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cells that weigh in at 1,300 lbs' So they are simply sending the cells across, just as is done for the Volt batteries from LG in Korea. The bare weight of the cells is 1300lbs, or 590kgs, for an energy density of around 135Wh/kg, which is higher than I thought you usually get from this chemistry.
          Dave D
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave D
          Sorry guys, I forgot to include the link again LOL http://www.electrovaya.com/pdf/TR/Lithium%20Ion%20Technology-Overview.pdf
          Dave D
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave D
          Of course, had they used the new Panasonic cells that Tesla is using for the model S, that total weight would have been closer to 300kg (664lbs)
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave D
          Hi Dave D What we are doubting is that lithium phosphate is 150Wh/kg, which is the bit you don't source, after that we can do our own adding up! ;-) Its given here as 90-110Wh/kg: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery At 100Wh/kg it comes out to 640kg, so even with packaging 1300 kg does sound a bit heavy, but the cell weight alone is greater than the total 1300lbs given.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Warren
        @Paul: Panasonic use very high energy density Nickel Manganese Cobalt chemistry. Lithium iron phosphate has many virtues including stability and high cycle life, but high energy density is not amongst them.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Warren
        Paul: lifepo4 has a lower energy density per pound, so the same weight figure is impossible, unless there has been some MASSIVE improvement in the gravimetric density of lifepo4 that i'm unaware of. Tesla's Model S uses cutting edge panasonic 18650 cells, who have no equal in the production battery world. Common Lifepo4 is double the weight. There is a typo here. I also think it is a misprint of kilograms VS pounds.
        paulwesterberg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Warren
        The tesla roadster battery made with older, lower density batteries. weighs 990 pounds and stores 56 kWh. 80kWh using the same chemistry would weigh 1,400lbs. So it is entirely possible that this company could use current battery cells to build this pack safely. The new tesla model S battery featuring next generation panasonic cells will probably feature even better energy density. http://www.teslamotors.com/roadster/technology/battery
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          The Roadster batteries are pretty high density batteries. They are Cobalt based Li-Ions meant for laptop computers. They do the job but probably are not the best for automotive applications due to safety issues and toxicity. But they were the best thing available at the time when the Roadster was designed.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Warren
        Probably kilograms.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      You can buy a maintenance contract for a Renault or a Peugeot for 80% of the price of the equivalent diesel contract. Smith have been running electric delivery vehicles for 100 years, and the figures are well established. Maintenance on electric vehicles is cheaper than on diesel/petrol, it is an established fact. Those remarks do not apply to hybrids, which are more complicated. The fantastic reliability of the Prius is down to great engineering from Toyota, not any inherent superiority of the drive train.
      • 3 Years Ago
      $70,000 for such a piece of machinery is a bargain. Good job.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a great, progressive company. +1 to them for making a decision that will improve their bottom line and keep our air clean.
      Randy C
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a smart businessman! He ran the numbers and discovered the true value of electric vehicles. When you add it all up over the life of the vehicle electric drive is a bargain. The fact that the vehicles don't use any foreign oil is just a bonus.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like to hear this - a solar charged fleet of EVs actually making business sense, to the tune of thousands of dollars a month saved per vehicle per year. The revolution is finally happening, folks...
      imoore
      • 3 Years Ago
      UPS would love this truck.
        Phandara1971
        • 3 Years Ago
        @imoore
        It even kind of looks like a typical UPS truck.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Phandara1971
          Yeah, that was probably intentional. "Hey UPS guys . . . look at our truck. I bet you could see yourselves driving this." FedEx has been a big mover in the move towards electrified transport, they should target them too.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      These vehicles will ultimately probably pay off. As the price of oil rises, the amount of money they save will go up every year compared to the gas/diesel versions. Pretty soon you'll be saving $10,000 per year in gasoline/diesel. That adds up pretty quick and will certainly cover the cost difference between the two vehicles.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        The savings for electric delivery vehicles are as much in low maintenance as fuel.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        In Colorado, the competition for EVs will come from natural gas. The area is already highly dependent on natural gas for heating. Denver is less than 150 miles from where that guy lit his tapwater on fire -- there's a lot of natural gas in the area, if you drill deep enough.
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