Bright Automotive, the developer of the purpose-built, plug-in hybrid IDEA (earlier post), has been awarded one of five contracts by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to develop and test an electric postal delivery vehicle. Under the contract, Bright Automotive’s eSolutions team (earlier post) will retrofit a standard USPS Long Life Vehicle (LLV) with an integrated electric drive train, and place the vehicle in real-world service for one year in the Washington DC area.
Other awards have gone to ZAP (earlier post); Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. (earlier post); AC Propulsion and AutoPort (earlier post); and Germany-based international transportation engineering firm EDAG, with whom Bright eSolutions is also collaborating. Thus, Bright eSolutions is providing powertrain hardware and software support for two of the five contracts awarded under the program.
Some of the same enabling technology developed on the IDEA will be directly applied to the EV propulsion conversion of the LLV. As an example, Bright said, applying the rear electric drive of the IDEA PHEV powertrain to the LLV positions Bright Automotive’s conversion with proven production-intent technology.
The Bright eSolutions retrofit LLV is fully electric and is capable of covering a high percentage of existing postal service routes. After delivery to the USPS in July 2010, the vehicle will go into service in the metro Washington DC area for at least one year.
The USPS currently operates 142,000 LLVs, which average less than 20 miles of driving per day and have an average fuel economy of only 10 mpg.
The IDEA, Bright noted, is now scheduled for production in 2013. At the reveal of the IDEA in April 2009, Bright had said that high volume production of the IDEA would begin in the US by the end of 2012, with an annual run rate of 50,000 units beginning in 2013.