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Navistar Officially Unveils eStar, Its First Purpose-Built All-Electric Commercial Truck

The eStar. Click to enlarge.

Navistar, Inc. will deliver to FedEx the first full-production eStar—Navistar’s all-electric commercial truck. The company is currently taking orders for the eStar and intends to deliver 400 units by the end of 2010.

Sales of the eStar all-electric vehicle are conducted through a wholly owned Navistar affiliate. The eStar truck is produced through the Navistar-Modec EV Alliance, LLC, the joint venture between Navistar, Inc. and Modec Limited of the UK. (Earlier post.)

The eStar all-electric truck transitioned from concept to reality in August 2009, when President Barack Obama visited Navistar’s manufacturing plant in Indiana to announce a $39.2 million federal stimulus grant to build electric trucks.

e-Star Quick Specs
  • 80 kWh Li-ion pack
  • 70 kW, 300 N·m (221 lb-ft) motor
  • Max speed: 50 mph (80 km)
  • Range: 100 miles (161 km)
  • GVWR: 12,100 lbs
  • Payload: 4,000 lbs
  • 220V split-phase charging
  • Less than one year later, Navistar has completed testing and validation, developed and delivered prototype vehicles, and received EPA and CARB certifications. Today, the eStar meets all Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Navistar is now taking orders and building these all-electric trucks.

    This Class 2c-3 electric truck—the first in its category—has a range of 100 miles per charge, making it ideal for many urban applications. When it returns to its home base at the end of the day, it can be plugged in and fully recharged within 6-8 hours.

    FedEx showcased a prototype of the eStar electric truck during last month’s “Charge Up Route 66” tour that began in Chicago and ended in Los Angeles as part of the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference. (Earlier post.) FedEx will evaluate the performance of the eStar vehicle in its fleet as it operates in the Los Angeles area.

    With the first eStar trucks coming off the production line today, Navistar is fully capable to support our customers through select dealers networked in our initial launch regions. No other commercial electric vehicle competes with the eStar in terms of capacity, size and application. We believe that customers will love the eStar because of its capabilities as an electric vehicle and not have to change their fleet usage in order to meet the truck’s performance.

    —Shane Terblanche, general manager, electric vehicles, Navistar

    Unlike other electric trucks that are reconfigured models of fossil-fuel trucks, the eStar truck has been purpose-built for electric power, creating an advantage with a low center of gravity (the battery is between the frame rails, not mounted on top) and a 36-foot turning radius. The eStar is engineered with superior aerodynamics, a walk-through cab and a quick-change cassette-type battery that can be swapped out in 20 minutes, enabling around the clock operation. It is capable of carrying payloads up to two tons.

    With zero tailpipe emissions, each eStar truck can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 10 tons annually. The low-floor design provides easy loading/unloading and the noise level is nearly non-existent, which makes this vehicle ideal for urban areas facing noise challenges.


    Account Deleted

    Green car advisor reports that Navistar will increase production to 5000 trucks per year Link to 5000 per year. The 80kWh battery is probably delivered by A123 (they have a development contract) so Navistar is about to become A123 biggest customer with 80*5000 = 400,000 kWh of battery packs per year. A123 say in their latest quarterly account that they are ramping up production to 760,000 kWh per year so Navistar is going to be their largest customer (Link to 760,000 kWh per year). For comparison, 5000 of these eStars need as many batteries as 25000 iMiEVs so it is a big deal.


    Now the USA has an answer to Smith's electric vehicles. It's about time.


    Futuristic looking e-truck that will fill the need for clean inner-city delivery vehicle. Postal Services (and many others) could use it. By adding a small Suzuki on-board genset, it could do even more.

    fred schumacher

    Impressive. However, it should be noted that it only has a 4,000 pound payload on an 8,000 pound tare. My 7,500 pound one-ton dually had a 10,000 pound payload. This will be a truck for light weight cargo.


    Your one-ton dually may tow 10,000 pounds, but it sure can't carry that much in the bed.

    Thomas Lankester

    'Now the USA has an answer to Smith's electric vehicles. It's about time.'

    Yes! And it is the British Modec van.


    Rob Bowen

    Thomas you are right - well done Modec (for developing the product - hopefully the UK coalition govt. recognises the potential as Barack O has) and Navistar (for recognising the US potential) - H Ford did a great job of getting us in the UK to believe that Fords were an original product of Dagenham and Ellesmere Port - happy to do that in reverse. The Navistar Modec alliance is a great way to leverage development of a sound product. It will be interesting to read Fedex's lessons learned.

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