The fuel cell technology company says this will allow FedEx Express to nearly double the amount of territory the vehicles can cover with one charge, increasing delivery fleet efficiency more than 50 percent coupled with a 35 to 40 percent decrease in fuel expenses, when compared to diesel trucks.
This $3 million project is funded by the US Department of Energy 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-kW Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell system. The fuel cell product is based on Plug Power’s GenDrive Series 1000 product architecture.
Plug Power says this trial will help it expand into the range extension market for small- to medium-sized electric vehicle fleets.
Currently, electric delivery trucks are limited to traveling about 80 miles per charge, Plug Power says. By doubling the vehicle range, the company says its range extender makes battery-based electric vehicles feasible for nearly all delivery routes and makes electric delivery vehicles a viable option for parcel delivery trucks, taxis, post office trucks and port vehicles.
Last year Plug Power received DOE and other public funding to expand its fuel cell technology. In November, Plug Power received $500,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to evaluate replacing diesel generators with hydrogen fuel cells for powering transport refrigeration units on trailers hauled by trucks that deliver perishable goods.
The DOE in August awarded Plug Power a $650,000 contract to demonstrate the use of hydrogen-based fuel cells to power the refrigeration units in semi-trailer trucks that transport perishable and frozen foods.
Photo Credit: FedEx Express truck by Coolcaesar via Wikimedia Commons