Azure Dynamics has delivered a prototype series-hybrid electric CRV (Carrier Route Vehicle) to the United States Postal Service (USPS) for in-service evaluation of fuel economy and emissions. Azure will follow on this delivery with a prototype diesel parallel hybrid drive two-ton step van in October that will also similarly be evaluated by USPS.
The scope of the USPS program, started with Azure in 2003, is to determine the relative economics of both the series and parallel hybrid powertrains compared to current fleet vehicles. USPS plans to purchase 160,000 new vehicles over an 8-year period beginning in 2006.
The prototype series hybrid uses a 2.3-liter Ford engine with a 17 kW electric motor; the diesel parallel hybrid uses a Ford 2.4-liter common rail diesel plus a 30 kW motor.
The USPS runs a 30,000-vehicle alternative fuel fleet (30% of the total fleet). It began in the early 1990s with 7,500 conversions to bi-fuel CNG, and today runs a mix of CNG, ethanol, biodiesel, electric and propane vehicles—as well as a couple of fuel-cell prototypes from GM.
Part of the USPS interest in alternatives is simply economics. With a $175 million annual fuel cost (at 2004 prices), even a 5% improvement across the board is worth $8,775,000.
The other part is regulatory. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) requires that 75% of all light-duty vehicle acquisitions for the fleet be alternative fuel vehicles.
Already part of that alternative fleet are 30 all-electric Azure Citivans in the state of New York. 22 Azure Citivans have been servicing Manhattan dating back to 1998 while eight more were added to the fleet in 2004 to service the Bronx. Two additional vehicles will start servicing Queens in June 2005.
Separately, Azure Dynamics has signed a supply agreement with SEV Group Limited for one thousand complete electric powertrains to be delivered within a twenty-four month period from the date of the first purchase order. Each powertrain includes the drive, a power steering system, a system controller, a 12VDC supply, and other key driver interface components.
This is the first tangible result from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two in February (earlier post).