Some U.S. city dwellers will soon have their packages delivered by electric-powered trucks.
The truck can go 100 miles on its batteries which can be charged overnight or removed and replaced with fresh ones, according to Navistar. The company expects to ship 400 of the vehicles to delivery companies or municipalities by the end of this year.
Because of its limited range and because batteries are recharged while slowing down or braking, the truck is well-suited for city routes, which is where FedEx is testing its small fleet. Navistar said it achieved the range through an aerodynamic design and all-electric controls.
Last month, FedEx executives said that the electric truck costs many times what its traditional trucks do. But the company is trying the technology to measure its cost benefits, which it estimates to be about one third the operating cost of diesel delivery trucks. It sent the truck on a cross-country promotional tour last month in advance of putting them into commercial use.
Although cost and infrastructure are still a barrier to alternative fuel vehicles, fleet operators will likely be the first customers to use electric vehicles at a large scale, said Oliver Hazimeh, the head of the e-Mobility practice at consulting company PRTM. Fleet vehicles operate well-understood routes and can be fueled on-site by their owners. Staples, too, is testing all-electric and hybrid trucks, in part in an effort to jump-start the market.