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FedEx Express Orders 10 Modec Electric Vans for Use in the UK

The FedEx Modec van. Click to enlarge.

FedEx Express has ordered 10 Modec electric commercial vehicles for use in the United Kingdom. The zero tailpipe emission vehicles will be the first such to join the FedEx fleet in the UK and will operate in the greater London metropolitan area. The vehicles feature a large, removable battery pack and can travel up to 70 miles on one overnight charge.

The new vehicles are part of a growing fleet of more than 170 hybrid electric vehicles in the FedEx fleet worldwide—the largest hybrid fleet in the transportation industry—and support the company’s commitment to improve the fuel efficiency of its vehicle fleet by 20% by 2020. FedEx has also committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from its aircraft fleet by 20% per available ton mile by 2020.

FedEx Express said that it selected Modec due to the superior performance and handling of the vehicles, which are ideally suited to the company’s operations in urban environments. Modec’s focus on the requirements of stop-start, urban-duty cycles and traffic conditions mean the cab is designed for quick and easy entry and exit, maximizing driver comfort and productivity.

In November, UPS ordered 12 Modec vans. Six vehicles will be introduced into UPS’ UK fleet in February 2009, including the vehicle that was used for testing until now. The remaining six will operate in Germany. (Earlier post.)

The Modec is designed from the ground up for operation in urban environments. Modec vehicles are designed around a large, removable battery pack and are battery agnostic, giving customers the ability to plug and play with different battery capacities. The Modec van features a 102 hp (76 kW), 300 Nm (221 lb-ft) drive motor. A Modec battery pack (50-100 kWh) sits amidships the purpose-built chassis in a drop-down cassette mounting which can be swapped out to avoid downtime while recharging. Modec leases the battery to its customers.

The Modec box van offers a load area of up to 14m3 and a two-tonne load capacity.


John Taylor

It is nice to see FedEx using the Modec van.
I hope to see a cost analysis on the benefits of using this new technology. At first glance this looks to be cheaper per delivery than an ICE van.


What provides heat for defroster and driver comfort? Is there an auxilliary liquid burning heater? Same question for other EVs if anyone knows. Thanks.

Andrey Levin

Both full hybrid and pure EV vehicles are usually equipped with electric motor driven air conditioner, which could work in reverse as heat pump, delivering something like 4KWh of heat energy per 1KWh of electrical energy consumed (take a look at “heat pump” in Wiki). In Prius, battery with normal state of charge during city driving could support about 20 minutes of AC operation when engine is stopped. Heating demand is also tapped from engine/electric motors cooling circuits.

For pure EV heating is indeed a big drag on battery, considerably reducing useful range in winter.

Henry Gibson

If Zebra batteries are being used, they have a lot of heat in them if necessary. A molten salt package could be used as a storage electric heater. The lowest weight unit is the fuel burning auxiliary heater used in some small diesel cars for heat. This reminds of the idea of a small charging engine that can supply heat. Heat pumps can actually get more useful heat from the fuel than the fuel can supply alone. A fair amout of heat can come from even an electric motor. There should be no battery electric vehicle on the roads that do not have fuel powered chargers always ready. They can be very small(see OPOC) but they make the vehicles more cost effective and reliable. ..HG..



Stan Wellaway

Modec, and their bigger rival Smith, have sensibly targeted the depot-based urban delivery fleet, where the distance limitations of EVs are not an issue. The stop/start routes are known of known length, and typically fall well within the range of a fully charged battery pack - leaving sufficient power for heaters, aircon, lights, wipers etc.

In Europe, TNT Express is in the same type of business as Fedex and UPS. After successfully trialling two 7.5ton Smith Newton delivery trucks a year ago they have since bought 150 of them. See the Case Studies page at for details.

Modec and Smith between them have so far sold over 400 of these latest highway-capable vehicles in the past year. Having seen the concept proven, two other UK makers have recently joined in.

In this very specific market niche, there is no point adding the unnecessary expense and complexity of an onboard combustion engine. It isn't needed.

Smith's latest (and smallest) product, the Ampere, has been developed jointly with Ford, and carries the Ford badge. Ford gave it exhibition space on their own stand at the CV-2008 show last April. The Smith Edison and the Ford F650-based Faraday also now carry a Ford badge. On January 11 in Detroit, Ford will be disclosing details of the electric van it intends selling in the USA in 2010. I don't know if it will be one of these Smith vehicles - but I do know the two companies have a close working arrangement.

Smith is owned by Tanfield Group, whose shares are listed on the UK stockmarket. Modec is privately owned, but they have in the past hinted that they too might make shares available at some future date.

paul malone

Good news. More order the closer we get to mass producting BEV and the cost saving that come with economies of scale. Especially with the batteries which are the expensive part currently.

Modec has been working with Axeon and Valence for the batteries anyone know what is powering these?


Good news for large cities.


I agree with you. For cold places and as long as battery (ESSU) technology has not reached 500 Wh/Kg or better, an on-board small liquid fuel battery charger (power generator) is a must. That's what PHEVs and extended e-range HEVs do.

Of course the liquid fuel power generator (or an hot air burner-generator) could supply the heat required to keep the cabin comfortable on cold days.

Heat captured from the e-motors + control system + bateries may supply some of the heat required in very cold areas. If heat recovery is not sufficient, a small, light weight, cpmplementary very high efficient (SEER 25+) on-board heat pump, could certainly help to do the rest.


Before we get too carried away, it's only zero tailpipe emissions, and unless the batteries are charged with renewable energy the true CO2 emissions could be just as high.

Mark M

Come on Debra, is the glass half empty or half full?

Let's celebrate the change as positive, we can always change how electricity is generated, we can't channge how gasoline is burnt.

It also takes electricity to produce gasoline, it doesn't flow out of the ground refined or by itself.

Adrian TCP

Let's not forget that today's vehicles use both fuel heaters (Webasto and Eberspecker) and PTC electric heaters (DBK Catem and Behr). These are used by BMW, Renault, VW, HCV makers, etc, so very common. Heating a small cab in a light duty like the Modec is surely not going to be too power hungry. All it needs is a little 350W PTC heater that are already on the market & they are 98% efficient when converting from electrical to heat energy. I would have thought Modec would want to avoid fuel heaters, just from the publicity viewpoint.

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