The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Japan Postal Fleet Opts for EV Conversion

August 04, 2009

NEW YORK --- A new electric drivetrain -- developed by electric vehicle producer Th!nk and powered by an EnerDel lithium-ion battery system -- has been delivered to Japan Post. 

EnerDel is a subsidiary of lithium battery producer Ener1 Inc., which is headquartered in New York.

Japan Post selected Zero Sports of Japan as one of the conversion partners for delivering vehicles as part of an on-road testing program. The program was fast-tracked by the Japan Postal Service to electrify its fleet of 22,000 delivery vehicles. With the support of partner ITOCHU Corp., EnerDel provided engineering support on the delivery of the first two postal service vehicles to Japan Post via Zero Sports. 

The drivetrain is being used to convert a gasoline-powered truck to run entirely on electric drive. The test program's results will be shared with other major users and potential customers of electric vehicles, including postal fleets in Europe and the Americas. 

The system was initially developed for the Th!nk City electric car but can be used in a wide variety of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicle (EV) applications. 

"The ability to deliver a fully integrated, road-ready package that can be quickly tailored to suit a wide range of vehicle solutions is a major step forward for both of our companies," said Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer. 

The new technology platform used for this program unites Th!nk's EV drive system with EnerDel's lithium-ion battery technology. A spin-off of Ford Motor Co. in 2003, Th!nk Global has more than 18 years of experience in producing environmentally friendly vehicles. The two companies began an active partnership in 2007, with EnerDel developing a 26-kWh battery system for the Th!nk City vehicle. 

"We have seen growing interest in supplying Th!nk's proprietary EV drive system to third parties, a significant new business line and revenue opportunity," said Th!nk Global CEO Richard Canny. "Our longstanding relationship with EnerDel has culminated in one of the most advanced battery electric drivetrain systems in the world, producing reliable, high-performance systems which are both cost-effective and highly adaptable."

The Japan Postal Service is currently converting 25 percent of its fleet of combustion engine vehicles to electric drive as part of a government push to accelerate demand for electric drive vehicles.

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