FedEx—which Monday said it plans to build the country’s second largest private solar power system (904 kilowatts) atop its hub in Oakland, California—also reaffirmed that it intended to increase the number of hybrids in the delivery fleet. (Reuters).
FedEx unveiled its first two of 20 OptiFleet E700 hybrid electric vehicles in March. Built by Eaton (which is also working on the utility truck diesel hybrids—earlier post), the E700 has a parallel architecture and uses a straightforward drivetrain configuration providing electric motor assist and regenerative braking.
The Eaton Hybrid Drive Unit, (system diagram below left, sketch of assembly below right, Click to enlarge) includes the automatic clutch (AC), motor/generator (MG), AutoShift transmission and invertor/controls.
The E700 hybrid downsizes to a 4.3-liter, four-cylinder diesel (Mercedes) as opposed to the 5.9-liter, six-cylinder version (Cummins) in the standard W700 delivery vehicle. Lithium-ion batteries hold the charge generated by the regenerative braking. A particulate trap further reduces emissions.
Although the hybrid electric truck’s operating characteristics will remain virtually unchanged from that of a conventionally-powered FedEx van, the E700 decreases PM emissions by 90% and NOx by 75%, while improving fuel economy by 50%.
FedEx began working with Environmental Defense in 2000 to create the next generation of greener delivery vans. In 2002, three vendors responded to their RFP: Eaton, the Allison Transmission division of GM, and BAE. Eaton won. Prototypes went into testing at the end of 2002. In May 2003, FedEx agreed to purchase 20 of the units, and the first two were rolled out in March of this year.
While FedEx has some 70,000 vehicles in its express and medium duty fleets, the company hopes to make hybrids one of its “standard” vehicles, said [Mitch] Jackson [FedEx’s environmental director]. FedEx is working with green group Environmental Defense and Eaton Corp., the manufacturer of its hybrid trucks, to bring the vehicles closer to mass production and thereby lower their cost.
“We are working diligently to make these vehicles viable not only for us, but for other fleets as well, we want other companies out there to adopt this technology and share in this environmental benefit,” said Jackson.
FedEx is also a member of HTUF (Hybrid Truck User Forum—earlier post) and is leading the HTUF working group on parcel delivery trucks.