In California, "low rider" has long implied a gas-guzzling hot rod. Toyota is now making that term a little more utilitarian in Japan. Toyota, working with Hino Motors and Yamato Transport Co., is testing out a pair of all-electric delivery van that will be used for refrigerated trucking in Tokyo.

The EV with a one-ton-payload, which will be tested starting this month for about a year, weighs about 6,000 pounds, has about 100 horsepower and about a 36-mile-per-hour top speed. The truck is about 185 inches long, or three inches shorter than a Toyota Highlander SUV.

While Toyota is not disclosing the truck's single-charge range, the automaker is pitching the truck's lack of engine noise as a bonus for early-morning deliveries through residential areas. Additionally, Toyota says the electric motor and battery-on-the-bottom layout allows for a truck bed that's about 17 inches off the ground, or about half the bed height of a conventional delivery truck.

Read Toyota's press release below.
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Yamato, Toyota, Hino Start Trials of Small Electric Truck
Companies Aim to Raise Efficiency and Cut CO2 Emissions in Delivery Business

Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. (Yamato), Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), and Hino Motors, Ltd. (Hino) will begin trials using a small electric truck ("EV Truck") in Yamato delivery operations.

Developed by Hino, the EV Truck is a one-ton, ultra-low bed truck featuring a cargo space equipped with compartments for keeping delivery goods refrigerated or frozen. The truck was created in line with specifications developed jointly by Yamato, TMC, and Hino to provide "Cool TA-Q-BIN", one of Yamato's unique delivery services for goods at low or freezing temperatures. The EV Truck, including its refrigerator/freezer, is powered entirely by battery, meaning it generates no emissions during operation and is extremely quiet, making it ideal for delivery services in residential neighborhoods late at night and early in the morning.

The trials are scheduled to be conducted for about one year. The three partners will verify the suitability and practicality of using the EV Trucks in delivery operations, and the results will be used to make improvements for the commercial launch of electric trucks.

Yamato has been undertaking a series of environmental initiatives dubbed "Necology"1 focused around its main distribution business by thoroughly implementing environment-friendly measures in each of its three core business elements: packing, transport and delivery. These measures are to reduce carbon dioxide emissions under three strategies: 1) reducing use (limiting the number of vehicles), 2) ecological use (introducing low-emission delivery vehicles), and 3) methods of use (encouraging eco-driving, reducing driving distances). Yamato has also been implementing a variety of measures to achieve more efficient delivery operations.

In light of current battery performance, TMC and Hino believe that it is possible to offer practical commercial electric vehicles for lightweight and short-distance applications. At the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show 2011, Hino displayed an EV truck concept vehicle with an ultra-low bed based on this idea and subsequently continued development, completing a practical-use prototype vehicle. By placing a compact electric motor under the cab and adopting front-wheel drive, the batteries could be placed under the bed. The bed floor could then be positioned at a height of just 440 mm above the ground, creating a vehicle with a much lower bed than conventional trucks.

After determining that Yamato's initiatives for raising operating efficiency were in agreement with TMC's and Hino's approaches to electric commercial vehicles, the three companies agreed to cooperate by conducting the trials.

Trial Details
Period: Approximately one-year period starting mid-March in 2013
Territory: Areas of Itabashi Ward (Tokyo) and a part of Machida City (Tokyo)
Number of vehicles: Two (TMC and Hino to provide one vehicle each)

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