CHICAGO - FedEx Corp. unveiled plans to expand its alternative-energy vehicle fleet with the company's first all-electric parcel delivery trucks in the United States. 

Four purpose-built electric trucks are slated to hit the road in the Los Angeles area starting in June 2010, joining more than 1,800 alternative-energy vehicles already in service for FedEx around the world. 

"In 2004, we were the first global company to invest in hybrid-electric commercial trucks, and now we're introducing the even cleaner all-electric parcel delivery truck," said John Formisano, vice president of global vehicles for FedEx Express. "We're making these investments, and invite others to join us, so that together we can speed the transition to a cleaner transportation system." 

Rather than creating its own proprietary technology, FedEx is again turning to the marketplace to spur solutions that can rapidly be scaled up to provide affordable and reliable service to a wide range of delivery truck operators, the company said. It is purchasing its first North American all-electric vehicles from two different suppliers to evaluate the robustness of this technology. The trucks will be used for deliveries in the Los Angeles area and will help guide future FedEx vehicle purchases. 

Two of the new all-electric trucks are from Navistar. These two, assembled in Indiana, are based on the Modec design already operated by FedEx in Europe. Ten such Modec vehicles serve FedEx routes in London and five more are on order for Paris. 

Two other electric vehicles are being purchased from a different manufacturer for delivery to the Los Angeles area later in 2010. Both sets of electric vehicles are designed with a range that allows many FedEx Express couriers to make a full eight-hour shift of deliveries before their vehicles need recharging. 

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A FedEx-branded prototype all-electric truck from Navistar was unveiled Monday, March 29, at an event in Chicago to kick off a demonstration tour of the technology. The vehicle will be operated for FedEx customers, employees, and local officials in several stops along historic Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles. 

The "Charge Up Route 66" tour is intended to pay homage to America's transportation past and the facilitation of inter-city commerce furthered by development of early highways such as Route 66. The electric truck demonstration tour is also designed to underscore a national initiative advocated by Frederick W. Smith, CEO of FedEx Corp., in testimony to a U.S. Senate subcommittee last month. Smith called for a comprehensive program to encourage affordable electrification of local transportation to foster more domestic energy production, less reliance on imported petroleum, and an overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Once in California, the Navistar electric truck will be demonstrated at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference, an environmental leadership event scheduled April 12-14 and featuring a presentation by Mitch Jackson, vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability for FedEx Corp. To track the vehicle's route, visit http://www.fedex.com/electric

"Electric trucks are still in their infancy, but we think they have a bright future in the mix of alternative energy vehicles," Jackson said. "Reliability and maintainability are critical for FedEx because of our commitment to superior customer service, so we'll be giving these trucks a real workout, helping the manufacturers refine their future offerings. Down the road, we see the possibility of charging electric vehicle fleets with low- or zero-emission electricity generated on site by such innovations as solar electric arrays, like those at FedEx locations in California, New Jersey and Germany, or the Bloom Energy Server, another new technology we're helping to pioneer through evaluating it at our solar-powered hub in Oakland." 

By the end of June, the FedEx alternative energy fleet will have grown to 1,869 vehicles in service around the world, helping to diversify and expand the all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicle market around the globe. Beyond the nine new electric trucks to be deployed in Los Angeles and Paris, FedEx has purchased 10 additional hybrid-electric vehicles that will be added to its California fleet throughout the spring, based in Oakland. 

FedEx currently operates the largest hybrid fleet in the transportation industry, along with one of the largest alternative energy vehicle fleets. The company said it is committed to improving its overall vehicle fuel efficiency 20 percent by 2020.

Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine

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