Verizon has collaborated with electric-vehicle developer and manufacturer VIA Motors to produce an extended-range electric cargo van. VIA developed and built the van, based on Verizon’s direction and fleet concepts, and expects it to achieve 100 mpg with near-zero emissions. Verizon will  test and deploy two of the vans in New Jersey and New York.

Bob Lutz - auto industry executive and father of the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors’ electric car - unveiled Verizon’s new vehicle on Monday (Jan. 14) at the North American International Auto Show.  “By demonstrating that going green can also be good business, large fleets like  Verizon’s can have a significant influence on the direction of the auto industry and help accelerate the adoption of clean vehicles like VIA’s electric work vans,”  said Lutz, former vice chairman of General Motors and a VIA board member.

Ken Jack, vice president of fleet for Verizon, said: “We believe the challenges businesses face in operating sustainable fleets require an ecosystem of innovation.  Our collaboration focused on developing a more environmentally friendly cargo van, as cargo vans are widely used by large U.S. fleets and account for more than 30 percent of Verizon’s fleet.  Electrifying these work vehicles could have a significant impact on a nationwide reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.”

Because the average total miles per day traveled by Verizon’s  fleet is low, the company expects the new vans to operate entirely under electric power most days; doing so would annually reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 2.4 metric tons and reduce the use of petroleum fuel by about 750 gallons per vehicle. 

The dashboard of the new van is equipped with a removable tablet, which aims to prevent distracted driving by providing voice prompts and easy-to-read route information. Verizon will also provide technological capabilities, through its acquisition of Hughes Telematics, including fuel and route optimization, vehicle maintenance and diagnostics, emergency assistance, and voice and data services.

“The collaboration with Verizon has quickly resulted in new innovations in its fleet, and we look forward to demonstrating the robust durability and economy of VIA’s technology in the field.” said Alan Perriton, president of VIA Motors.  “Verizon’s dedication to green fleet solutions is setting an example for companies that seek to reduce the environmental footprint and operational costs of their fleets.”

Overall, VIA anticipates the Verizon electrified work vehicles should improve fleet fuel economy by up to 300 percent while cutting emissions in half or more.  The vehicles have up to 40 miles of all-electric range, using technologically advanced lithium-ion batteries, with the added capability to drive additional miles by using VIA’s onboard electric generator, or “range extender.”  The vehicle can be charged overnight from a typical 110-volt household outlet for as little as $1 a day in some states.

In addition,  VIA’s exportable power system option can provide 15 kilowatts of continuous 110v or 220v power for emergency or job-site application, a much cleaner alternative to conventional stationary-power generation.

“We anticipate that the 15 kilowatts of clean mobile power generation provided by the vans will be of great value in emergencies like Hurricane Sandy, and in everyday use, to reduce stationary emissions and provide greater service capabilities,” Verizon’s Jack said.