It seems as though the entry of newcomers Modec and Smith Electric Vehicles (and maybe even Boulder Electric Vehicles) into the North American electric truck market has prompted Freightliner to set about putting their own all-electric chassis together. To help speed things along, they have enlisted the aid of Enova Systems, a company with hybrid and electric vehicle experience. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation and the California cleantech firm have signed a Letter of Intent that will see the Enova 120kW and 90kW drivetrains married to certain Freightliner chassis platforms, including, mostly importantly, the walk-in MT-45 which one might find beneath the panels of UPS and Fed Ex delivery vans.

The agreement will cover the design, engineering, fleet integration, and testing of four vehicles. Freightliner, which is a Daimler subsidiary, hopes the program will help them get into the electric truck game "in the near term" with the company producing their own vehicles profitably in-plant. Both firms are said to have fleet customers hoping to add all-electrics as early as 2010. Hey, that's real soon! Click here to check out an Enova video touting their wares. You can find the official press release after the break.

[Source: Enova Systems]



PRESS RELEASE:

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and Enova Systems Announce Their Intentions to Collaborate on All-Electric Commercial Chassis

A Freightliner Commercial Vehicle Production Program for National Fleets is Targeted

TORRANCE, Calif. & GAFFNEY, S.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) and Enova Systems (Enova) (NYSE Amex: ENA) (AIM: ENV) (AIM: ENVS) announced today that they have jointly executed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to enter into an all-electric commercial chassis development program.

The development program includes close collaboration and will involve the engineering and integration of Enova's 120kW and 90kW all-electric drive system technologies into target FCCC chassis platforms, including the MT-45 walk-in van chassis. Freightliner's highest volume MT-45 chassis offers a gross vehicle weight rating between 14,140 and 19,000 lbs. and maximum payloads of 10,000 lbs. The MT-45 chassis is used by a range of customers including UPS and Federal Express.

The strategic agreement consists of four phases that include the development of at least four vehicles and placement into national fleets. Design, engineering, integration, and testing activities will be conducted at the Freightliner Custom Chassis plant in Gaffney, SC and the Enova facility in Torrance, CA.

Robert Harbin, President of the Freightliner Custom Chassis division of DTNA, stated that "The technical, economic, and environmental factors driving increased demand for pure electric commercial vehicles are rapidly converging. Our partnership with Enova Systems on this important development program is a clear indication that the market for these vehicles is approaching. We look to Enova to help us achieve our goal of having a profitable, in-plant, EV production program in the near term."

Mike Staran, President and CEO of Enova Systems, stated that "Collaboration with FCCC, an OEM with market leading positions with several ideal commercial vehicle platforms, provides us an immediate opportunity to penetrate markets not previously available. Our combined technologies and vehicle expertise will enable us to offer a wide range of flexible EV solutions that will ultimately allow us to gain market share in key segments."

The companies have already begun showcasing their capabilities to potential customers and expect positive results from these initial demonstrations. Many national fleet operators currently served by the two companies have clearly stated their desire to deploy all-electric commercial vehicles in the 2010 timeframe.

Enova Systems is a leading worldwide developer and producer of all-electric and hybrid drive train technologies for commercial vans, trucks and buses. Enova's non invasive systems enable customers to integrate their drive system technology in either new vehicle or retrofit applications.

About Freightliner Custom Chassis

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van, and commercial and school bus markets. FCCC is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA), a Daimler company.

About Enova Systems

Enova Systems Inc., an international company headquartered in Torrance, Calif., is the leading developer of electric and hybrid drive systems for buses and medium-duty vehicles. Enova produces four drive configurations (Pure Electric, Series Hybrid with Diesel Generator, Pre and Posts Transmission Parallel Hybrids) for customers including Smith Electric Vehicles and the China FAW Group Corporation. Enova's drive systems have powered thousands of electric and hybrid vehicles since 1980.


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