FedEx has been quite serious about adding electric vehicles to its fleet, saying in 2011 that it would more than double its number EV vehicles. Of course, all that meant was going from 19 to an expected 43, but it's the start of removing some tailpipes. Plus, with overall big green vehicle ambitions, FedEx

In some cases, going EV means using the Nissan NV200 EV prototype in London. In others, it means partnering with upstart Amp Motors to convert two 14,000-pound GVW trucks for FedEx to test in Washington, D.C. This proof of concept, all-electric step van could be a huge first step, as FedEx has said it hopes to convert 9,000 vehicles to EV power. Amp also has a contract with Navistar for a similar van project.

Steve Burns, Amp founder and president, sent an email to AutoblogGreen explaining why the company is interested in these sorts of delivery trucks:

As I know you are keenly aware, it has been a tough year for smaller EV companies (Aptera, Bright, Azure, Think) because the passenger EV market has been a bit slower to evolve than first thought. It is moving nicely, and is actually doing better than hybrids did in 2000 when they first came out, but it is proving to be a slow process to unwind 100 years of an oil based economy that is so tightly woven into the fabric of this great country.

To that end, we began to look for areas that might be more receptive to adapting EVs with our technology in the shorter term. Earlier adoption would provide both learnings and revenue while the passenger EV market to ramps up.

The two major factors that appear to influence EV adoption are:

1) Price
2) Limited Range

We looked for applications that got very poor gas mileage (so that the payback would be quicker) and traveled less than 100 miles per day so that range was not an issue. So, re-powering fleets that utilized larger vehicles for urban deliveries came into focus. And the clearest vehicles that emerged were the step vans used by the likes of FedEx, Navistar. The chassis and bodies on these types of vehicles are typically used for 20 years. So, removing the diesel based drivetrain and re-powering 10-year-old vehicles with all electric drivetrains looked to be the most cost effective manner to get tens of thousands of these vehicles converted from very dirty old style diesel to zero emission electrics. The key was to get the payback under 5 years. Preferably 4 years.

Our ML EV drivetrain pushes around a 5,000-pound vehicle spiritedly. So, the task of moving a 14,000-lb vehicle somewhat spiritedly was not too daunting of a task. So, essentially we utilized our dual Remy model model with large scale cells and our same control software/hardware and we had the formula and the price point.

In other Amp news, the company's first dealer had a launch party recently and, says Burns, "we are about to sign up our second dealer who is one of the top Mercedes-Benz dealers in the country."


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  • 79 Comments
      LL
      • 3 Years Ago
      I had a very successful career as a car dealer. In my early 50’s, I've retired from the car business and purchased a beautiful home and many acres of land. Unfortunately, the land market took a turn for the worse and suddenly I found myself in debt and unable to pay my bills. At my age, no one would hire me, so I began to look for a business that I could run from home. After looking at many possibilities, I decided that this opportunity ( http://bit.ly/SmartLiving ) had the most income potential. Starting $50000 in debt, in only one year I had paid off all of my debts, and built a business that now pays me over $8000 monthly. I must say without a doubt that this program is the best program on the net and had change my living lifestyle!
        sirvixisvexed
        • 3 Years Ago
        @LL
        WOW! Where do I sign?!?!?! My credit card number is 6969 4200 6666 0690 expires 2/30/2014 and cvc code is 666!!
      ttruckr23
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ah yes, the fallacy of "green" energy. But.... wait a sec... you mean that electricity to recharge these boondogle vehicles isn't the result of some sort of "divine generation", meaning no pollution results from generating plants? Oooops, sorry to blow the whistle on this obvious fact that so many of our rocket scientists seem to voluntarily overlook.
        gpmp
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ttruckr23
        Do you think they haven't thought about where the electricity is coming from and what it costs? Have you thought about where it comes from? Where it can come from? A boondoggle? Why do you think they're starting with a small number of vehicles? If their numbers don't work out then so be it. If the assumptions are right, though, think how much they'll save converting the entire fleet.
        gpmp
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ttruckr23
        And why does the bar have to be set at "no pollution"? Why can't it be set at "less pollution"? Especially if there are $$$avings?
          ty
          • 3 Years Ago
          @gpmp
          Speaking of which, semis should have gone diesel-electric long ago, just like trains did.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ttruckr23
        AutoBlogGreen hasn't seen such an incompetent nutcase comment in years. Thanks ttruckr23 for the Insane Insanity. Do yourself a favor, learn math, find out how with google you can disprove your own comment, and: FLUSH RUSH.
      Hi Den
      • 3 Years Ago
      please...electric vehicles hurt the environment more since much of our electricity is generaled from coal.
        Vlad
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hi Den
        Even if you ignore all analysis done on this topic, 42% of all electricity generated from coal is not most, although it is still unacceptably high number. It is lower than that for 2012 due to continued oversupply of natural gas. Also, I find it ironic that groups that voice this concern most often do everything in their power to kill any measures that would reduce coal burning.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hi Den
        "electric vehicles hurt the environment more since much of our electricity is generaled from coal." Don't be silly. Before SONGS was forced to shut down ("temporarily", says So Cal Edison) due to failed systems, SoCal had a non-trivial amount of power generated by nuclear energy. Coal pollution can be cleaned up in a matter of years, decades at most. Nuclear waste has a half-life measured in centuries. And the best part, there's no national nuclear waste disposal program, so this stuff just keeps accumulating at generator plants, dispersed throughout the country. As "secure" as any public utility is willing to pay out of their profits to guard it.
        gpmp
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hi Den
        They'll hurt the environment relative to what? Did you stop to consider how the delivery vans are currently fueled? And if these vehicles operate in Seattle or Portland then how much coal do you think they're using? Your comments might be a little more intelligent if you did at least a little homework.
        dusty754
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hi Den
        Guess then you have to take into account how much pollution is added by recharging batteries from coal plants as opposed to what these vehicles put into the air using current diesel and gasoline engines. You may find that there is a reduction in the overall pollution equation by using electrics. It is quite possible that even though the electric generation plants put out more exhaust by generating more electricity, the total output is less than that of the combined output of conventionally fueled vehicles. It is also possible to place solar panels on the roofs of these vehicles where they can recharge as they run their routes and placing fan powered generators in the front of the vehicle so as they move forward, air causes a fan to power a generator that recharges the batteries.
      Bill Hilton
      • 3 Years Ago
      Electric trucks? Not in my life time! Too expensive...and too difficult to dispose of "used up" batteries! And, it will take petroleum products to create the electricity to charge these behemoths! Natural gas is the correct way to go and more economical and is way past the "trial" stage...these vehicles have been proven since the 1950's and before! Start with government vehicles...buses, post office delivery, taxi's, etc...local and short haul! For electric vehicles to even begin to be successful and less expensive...will take trillions of tax dollars and many will fail! No more gambling...go with what works best!
        Vlad
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bill Hilton
        Not in your lifetime? You better do something fast, I don't think FedEx is waiting for your permission!
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bill Hilton
        You obviously enjoy the refreshing smell of diesel fumes in the morning. Perhaps that is why you don't expect to live long enough for electric vans to be common.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bill Hilton
        Not in your life time? do you have terminal cancer? Or is it just the inability to see ahead 10 years?
        veteranspost
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bill Hilton
        ...In your lifetime, yes it will. Unless you have a medical cond then I am sorry. If you read the article... It said they were hoping for payback within 4 to 5 years. Using Round numbers, lets say the conversion costs $30,000. So they are looking for savings of $6,000 a year over the 5 year period. If diesel costs $4 a gallon and the Van drives 100 miles a day and gets 10 mpg... $40 a day for gas. Lets say the plug in cost is $10 a day. A $30 savings. Driving 20 days a month saves $600 in fuel. Say $6,000 a year in fuel savings AND less polution. . It is easy to see that in 5 years the investment has paid off with lets say another 5 years of life left on the motor. Now about your statement about petroleum products creating the electricity for these vehicles... . Let me tell you about Wind Generators, Solar Panels, Hydro-Electric Power, Hydrogen Batteries and so much more that will be in YOUR future. But when the day comes when no more gas is pumped and you stand there with a few gallons left in your tank and you ask... 'What do I do Now...?' Do you have a bicycle?
      arenadood
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a start. But remember it is only a test to see how well it works out.
        ty
        • 3 Years Ago
        @arenadood
        Will definitely have to see if new designs lower the ozone output longer term.
      belldn3
      • 3 Years Ago
      Go, go gadget truck.
      SgtJoeFriday
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm surprised that FedEx never considered hybrid drivetrains.
        Vlad
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SgtJoeFriday
        They have, in fact. FedEx is testing a number of technologies, including hybrids: http://about.van.fedex.com/article/cleaner-vehicles
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hope they do something!!!!! Got a package shipped from Philadelphia to Denver--took eleven days---then they handed it over to the post office to deliever it!!!!
      Larry
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah for FedEX . Anyway this sounds great , but lets step back and look at the big picture . First in a city like NYC it seems like it makes sence , but dose it really ? How these truck will run in NYC . In NYC short trip for the day good, no hills good , plenty of power for the road types good , No polution not so fast ,read on . IN NYC we have an old power grid and are asked to lower our electricty usage when the temperture is above 90 degrees . So can the old power grid handle this new large load ? bad . We now have to burn more coal and oil to generate the electricty for these trucks , more polution ( engines run cleaner toay ) Wind and solar is not enough to meet the demand , and well nobody want nuclear . See these truck are coal ,oil and nuclear powered . Where do think the electricty comes from anyway ? In northern climates the drivers need heat and that takes alot of power from the batteries . And don't get me started on the batteries . They will work , but the infrastructure behind them needs to be considered too . I am not against these trucks I just want people to think they are easy to use as a toaster . For me cogeneration is a great idea , you get rid of garbage and make electricty , but here in NYC it is the not in my back yard syndrome . Well you have your cake and eat it too.
      • 3 Years Ago
      electric is not the way to go the lng{ liguified natural gas trucks seem to me to be the wave of the future for large fleets. I am not sure that the electric grid could handle the charging of millions of vehicles. they cant handle the a/c needs of major metropolitan areas now just something to think about.
        Vlad
        • 3 Years Ago
        AC use peaks at daytime. EVs are charged at night. They don't compete. Anywhere there's a tiered rate plan, and many (most?) businesses are on one, you pay much less at night than during the day. In some places electricity is free during off-peak hours. If anything, EVs help utilize energy that goes to waste otherwise.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Vlad
          If you drive 100 miles in the morning, but refuel at lunch for 100 miles in the afternoon, aren't you plugging roughly 10-20 trucks in with Level 3 chargers?
        Alex Gonzales
        • 3 Years Ago
        No joke. In a hot summer (which has been happening for the last couple of years) they coalition of electric suppliers are on red alert lol about rolling blackouts and the likes and always making the news about spreading the word about conserving.
        dusty754
        • 3 Years Ago
        They don't seem to have any problem handling the a/c needs of places like Phoenix Arizona.
      Marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      The light commercial sector is an absolute natural for EV technology. AMP are to be congratulated for have built a successful business in this sector. It's often forgotten by ABG readers that the specialist EV industry has never completely gone away ! Specialist EV makers and Fleets have kept on producing non-passenger EV's, all over the world for decades. What is sad, is that the UK was the world leader in this technology, but lost most of it's manufactures (Smith, Modec etc ) to other countries, or bankruptcy, due to a lack of government support by the previous UK Labour government. The incentives introduced by the Conservatives, arrived too late for many UK firms. American EV enthusiasts should consider this lesson in an election year.
      Elise
      • 3 Years Ago
      Doesn't FedEx contract out its delivery services to small privates and of course, make the small business person buy the vehicle? What will the difference be in maintenance costs and operating costs for the small business owner?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Elise
        That is only their Fedex Ground Division,the Express side is all Company owned and maintained
        Alex Gonzales
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Elise
        This is true, although I don't think that's for the entire fleet. But you're right, when the operator has to buy the vehicle and/or the route upgrading to EV could be a major challenge.
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