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Think and Ener1 Supplying Electric Drivetrains and Battery Packs to Japan Post for EV Conversions; Potential New Line of Business

Japanpost conversion
The converted EV. Click to enlarge.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Think Global and Ener1, one of its battery partners, are supplying a fully integrated electric drivetrain powered by a lithium-ion battery system to Japan Post for the conversion of delivery vehicles as part of a comprehensive road-testing program. Japan Post is also deploying 40 original electric vehicles this fiscal year—20 units apiece of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Subaru Plug-In Stella. (Earlier post.)

Think and Ener1 are working with Zero Sports of Japan, which has been selected by Japan Post as one of the conversion partners for delivering electric vehicles as part of the testing program in support of its goal to electrify the fleet of 22,000 delivery vehicles. With the support of strategic partner ITOCHU Corporation, which organized this project, EnerDel provided engineering support on the delivery of the first two postal service vehicles to Japan Post via Zero Sports.

The drivetrain is being used to convert a gasoline-powered truck to run entirely on electric drive. The operational data will be shared with other major users and potential customers of electric vehicles, including other postal fleets in Europe and the Americas.

Initially developed for the Th!nk City electric car (earlier post), the complete system is the first of its kind to provide off-the-shelf availability combined with made-to-order performance in a wide variety of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicle (EV) applications, according to the partners.

The Th!nk City is a three-door, two-seat (two additional rear seats are available as an option) electric vehicle powered by a 30 kW electric motor, available with a choice of three different battery packs. Think Global and Ener1 began an active partnership in 2007, with EnerDel developing a 26 kWh battery system for the Th!nk City vehicle. Aside from some modifications to the external envelope, the battery for the Japan Post conversions is essentially the same 26kWh battery pack developed for the Th!nk City vehicle, according to Ener1.

We have seen growing interest in supplying Think’s proprietary EV drive system to third parties, a significant new business line and revenue opportunity.

—Think Global CEO Richard Canny

The Japan Postal Service is currently converting 25% of its fleet of combustion engine vehicles to electric drive as part of a government push to accelerate market adoption and infrastructure development for electric drive vehicles. It is anticipated that federal fleets across the world will be soon to follow their example.

Initially Japan Post will develop a fleet of pure electric vehicles for testing in general business and sales use in the Kanagawa and Tokyo Prefectures, where the two conversion vehicles are currently undergoing on-road testing.

ITOCHU Corporation, a multi-billion dollar Japanese trading company and seed investor in Ener1 was been instrumental in expanding the Ener1 and Think commercial presence in Japan through its sales and marketing network. Ener1 is also partnering with Kyushu Electric Power (KEPCO), one of the largest public power and utility companies in Japan to create and manufacture rapid recharging systems for electric vehicles.

Comments

HarveyD

Post Office (delivery vehicles) are ideal platforms for electrification. Being mostly public, it is also an ideal way to move the technology from the labs to the streets.

Wonder why the 8 or 20 major industrial nations did not already set similar goals for vehicle electrification, starting with Post Office and other small delivery vehicles. This could but the first 2 or 3 million electric vehicles on the roads, promote various battery pack mass production, lower inherent production cost and promote earlier mass production of lower cost PHEVs and BEVs for the general puclic at large.

Why is every country trying to re-invent the wheel. A concerted effort would make better economic sense. The world needs standardized e-charging stations and connectors and/or wireless interfaces, plug-in (various size) battery packs or add-on modules, standardized vehicle e-HVAC for future PHEVs and BEVs to move-drive across country lines.

ai_vin

For anybody who's spent any amount of time in England this is a no-brainer; they're been doing it for years-
http://www.milkfloats.org.uk/

HarveyD

This plan is not about replacing (by exception) a few dozen ICE vehicles with extreemly costly electrified units but replacing a few million ICE delivery vehicles with mass produced relatively affordable e-vehicles to accellerate battery development + e-vehicle mass production to the level required to reduce cost.

Soon thereafter would come mass produced affordable PHEV-100+ Km ($25K and even less) and BEV-400+ Km (under $20K).

Basic BEVs should eventually be much cheaper to build and operate than the ICE equivalent.

SJC

The U.S. Postal Service is running a $7 billion deficit, it is unlikely that fleet replacement with PV or PHEV vehicles will happen on a large scale until they get their house in order.

HarveyD

If affordable lithium-air batteries and ESStor ESSUs are ever mass produced, it could mean the end of PHEVs.

Those two units combined could supply the energy required for BEVs with excellent acceleration, high speed and very long range.

Being scalable, those two technologies could power small, medium, large and very large BEVs within 5 to 10 years.

There is no doubt that many more mobile e-power units will be developed by 2030 and that PHEVs era may be short live and be around for one or two decades only.

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