The commercial vehicle market stands to benefit the most from the adoption of cheap-to-operate electric vehicles, though range limitations also mean limited use for most delivery companies. Buoyed by a $3 million Federal grant, FedEx, Smith Electric Vehicles, and Plug Power are adding hydrogen-powered range extenders to 20 electric delivery vans for real world testing.
The hydrogen fuel cell range extenders will about double the driving range of the Smith Electric Vehicles delivery vans, which can travel about 80 miles between charges. That’s good enough for extremely local delivery, but many routes have drivers covering 150 miles or more on a regular delivery route. While electric vehicles are capable of covering such distances, the costs and recharging times go up accordingly. FedEx has tried out a wide range of electric vehicles, but so far none can cover a full day’s work. Rival UPS has gone so far as try out electric-assisted trikes in Europe.
Plug Power to Develop Fuel Cell Range Extenders for FedEx Express Electric Delivery Trucks January 7th 2014 ... $3 million project is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and includes project partners FedEx Express, Plug Power and Smith Electric Vehicles. The resulting hybrid vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion batteries and a 10-kilowatt Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell system.