Chrysler is celebrating Earth Day today by unveiling the first four of what will be a fleet of 250 battery powered minivans for the US Postal Service. The U.S.P.S. will be using the vans for variety of duties at locations around the country – including daily home delivery.
The vans themselves are based on the concept Town and Country EV that was unveiled last Fall by Chrysler. However, because of the duty cycle used by the Postal Service – which generally amounts to only about 18-20 miles per day on a fixed route – these vehicles are being built without the range extender seen on the concept. However, the electric drive portion of the vehicles, including the motor, electronics and A123 System lithium ion battery pack is identical. The head of Chrysler's ENVI division Lou Rhodes told Autoblog Green this morning that Chrysler is marketing this battery-only version of the van to commercial fleet customers who typically have a shorter range requirements. The extended-range version will be focused on retail customers.
The initial batch of vehicles include a pair of right- and left-hand drive versions, and the total fleet will include a mix. The Postal Service will be using the vehicles for whatever applications they have in different regions of the country. The intent is to evaluate the usability of electric vans, as well as the interaction between the vehicles and the infrastructure. In addition to the post office, Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), Duke Energy, DTE Energy and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will participate in the test program.