UPS has ordered 150 composite-body diesel vans after testing five of the CV-23 prototype vehicles and achieving a 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared with traditional aluminum vans.
The vans were developed with Isuzu, using one of the car maker’s own chassis, and a composite body designed by Utilimaster. They’re 10 percent — about 900 lbs. — lighter than the P70, a comparable member of the UPS fleet.
Each 150-horsepower vehicle uses an Isuzu four-cylinder diesel engine and a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission. The engine is smaller than a traditional UPS diesel engine — a factor in increasing the vans’ fuel efficiency, says UPS. The smaller engine sips less fuel during daily operations.
UPS attributes the CV-23 vehicle’s increased fuel efficiency to its powertrain technology, overall vehicle weight reduction and new body aerodynamics. Additionally, the shipping companies says the CV-23s are easy to maintain and repair, and are durable.
UPS expects to receive the vans in Q4 of 2012. It says it will operate the CV-23 vehicles along high-mileage routes, and will consider adding more composite components into larger vehicle types to reduce vehicle weight.
The composite vans’ cargo space is slightly less than the P70’s, however: the CV-23 has a payload capacity of 630 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the P70’s 700 cubic feet.
UPS began testing the composite vans in April 2011. It concluded the test in 2012. The shipping company chose five locations to test the CV-23’s ability to handle different climate conditions. The areas were: Lincoln, Neb. with its rough back roads; Albany, NY for its tough winter conditions; Tucson, Ariz. for its extreme desert heat; Flint, Mich., a long urban route near Isuzu headquarters; and Acworth, Ga., a high-mileage route with close access for the UPS corporate automotive department.
Earlier this month, UQM Technologies began supplying the PowerPhase HD 220 electric drive systems to Boulder EV to build delivery vans for FedEx Express. As part of this initiative, Boulder EV will use the PowerPhase HD 220 systems in its composite delivery van designed specifically as an all-electric vehicle.
FedEx Express says its vehicle fleet was 16.6 percent more fuel efficient in 2011 than in 2005. The company says that in this time it also converted its trucks to cleaner emission models.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the CV-23 weighed about 1,000 pounds. This should have said that the CV-23 is about 1,000 pounds lighter than the P70. We have also corrected instances where we called the P70 the “P700.”