Green Car Congress reports:
UPS has begun testing a Modec electric van (earlier post) which will operate from its Camden facility within the London Low Emission Zone.Japan Post Service is also exploring the feasibility of transitioning its entire fleet of some 21,000 delivery vehicles to electric vehicles beginning this business year.
On a single charge, the Modec van offers a range of more than 100 miles and a top speed of 50 mph carrying a load of up to two tonnes. The 70kW motor (102hp) develops 300Nm of torque.
Modec started with twin parallel-wired 288-volt Zebra sodium-nickel-chloride battery packs, with a life span of around four years (1,000 full charging cycles.) Regenerative braking recharges the batteries in addition to grid charging, which takes 8 hours for a complete charge.
The battery pack sits amidships in a drop-down mounting which can be swapped out to avoid downtime while recharging
Along with high end sports cars, delivery vehicles are a ideal place to start using electric vehicles for 7 reasons.
1) Delivery vehicles are often idling, or in stop and go traffic where an electric vehicle would be much more efficient than an internal combustion engine.
2) Delivery vehicles have a limited number of miles that they drive each day which works with the lower range that batteries deliver.
3) Implementing them as an entire fleet makes it possible to swap out an empty battery for another fully charged one.
4) The vehicles go back to a main hub where a recharging station can be installed to recharge multiple vehicles quickly.
5) Vehicles are only used during working hours allowing for recharging over night.
6) Delivery vehicles often have electric accessories such as refrigeration, lifts and compactors that work more efficiently from batteries than they do from diesel which must first be turned into electricity.
7) These vehicles are large which makes it easier to store a large battery pack.
The one thing I am not clear on is how the costs of these vehicles compare with diesel vans. Commenters on this post say that the battery can be leased for $225 a month.
While McCain is proposing a $300 million prize to build a better battery, another way the federal government could speed up the adoption of electric cars would be to switch the US Post Office to battery powered vehicles.
And while electric delivery vehicles sound like a new thing, it is actually a very old thing, as reported by The Economist:
At the turn of the century battery-powered vehicles were a common sight on city streets, because they were quiet and did not emit any noxious fumes.