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Corporate Fleets Expected Early Adopters of Electric Vehicles

fordtransitconnectvan2_9sw6k40bwnc4kgc4gcw4o4wwc_17ldmg3f9ou8088wk04c40sgo_th1.8amdowqdev8ko0o08ckowsgkg.17ldmg3f9ou8088wk04c40sgo.thU.S. corporate fleets purchase about 300,000 vehicles a year, and they are expected to be among the steadiest customers of electric vehicles, including cargo vans, as they come to market.

Commercial trucks account for about 12 percent of miles driven but produce about 25 percent of all emissions, Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics told the New York Times.

That makes the sector a likely one to take advantage of the emissions reductions possible by using electric and electric/hybrid vehicles, said Harrison, whose company makes electric drive trains for hybrid commercial fleet vehicles.

Indeed, companies that make frequent deliveries are expected to be among the first customers for the Ford Transit Connect electric van.

Ford, which has been whetting the appetite for the vehicle for some time, unveiled the vehicle Feb. 10 at the Chicago Auto Show. It has a top speed of 75 miles per hour and can go about 80 miles on a charge.

Enova Systems Inc. and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. say they expect to roll out their all-electric delivery vehicles this year.

According to hybrid truck industry estimates, U.S. production of hybrid commercial trucks is expected to reach 4,850 units in 2010.

As an example, Smith Electric Vehicles U.S., a maker of delivery trucks says it’s busy trying to meet back orders for a host of customers including Coca-Cola, AT&T and Frito-lay.

Azure has a big customer in Canadian courier firm Purolator, which in 2004 agreed to purchase 2,000 vehicles from Azure over a five-year period.

But so far Purolator has purchased only 500.

Still, Harrison said he is buoyed by Azure’s other deals, which include a contract to supply vehicles to a hybrid-only FedEx depot in the Bronx, as well as repeat orders from AT&T, the Times reports.

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