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More Shippers Turn to Electric Vehicles as Last Mile and Fuel Cost Solutions

As logistics companies look to improve their environmental impact and reduce fuel costs, they are turning more to electric vehicles.

While they still have mileage limitations, the technology is improving and the vehicles have proven a good fit for the important local, last-mile delivery for e-commerce logistics.

FedEx Corp. said this week that it’s expanding its fleet to add 1,000 Chanje V8100 electric delivery vehicles. FedEx is purchasing 100 of the vehicles from Chanje Energy Inc. and leasing 900 from Ryder System Inc.

The purpose-built electric vehicles will be operated by FedEx Express for use in commercial and residential pick-up and delivery services in the U.S. The vehicles are manufactured by FDG in China.

The electric vehicles can travel more than 150 miles when fully charged and have the potential to help FedEx save 2,000 gallons of fuel while avoiding 20 tons of emissions per vehicle each year. The maximum cargo capacity is around 6,000 pounds. All of the vehicles will be operated in California.

“FedEx continually seeks new ways to maximize operational efficiency, minimize impacts and find innovative solutions through the company’s ‘Reduce, Replace, Revolutionize’ approach to sustainability,” said Mitch Jackson, FedEx chief sustainability officer. “Our investment in these vehicles is part of our commitment to that approach of serving our customers and connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully.”

FedEx has been using all-electric vehicles as part of its pickup-and-delivery fleet since 2009. The company said it believes wider adoption of alternative-fuel, electric and hybrid electric vehicles will play a key role in reducing global emissions, while diversifying and expanding renewable energy solutions.

At the same time, CityFreighter Inc. and XPO Sales have entered into a strategic partnership and signed a letter of intent for the Purchase of 100 CF1 Full Electric Class 4 Trucks for last mile delivery. CityFreighter is a clean-tech startup with operations in the U.S., Europe and Asia. It is developing smart, medium-duty commercial electric vehicles for the “last mile,” combined with intelligent front and back end integration to meet the needs and challenges of urban logistics in the future.

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The prototype of the CF1 truck will be presented in the second quarter of 2019 and delivery of 100 commercial units is planned for the first quarter of 2020, the companies said.

The CF1 has been developed as a fully electric, front-drive vehicle and contains multiple weight reducing features, such as a low-weight cargo box. The truck has been designed specifically for last mile operations, with a range of about 100 miles. It will be charged overnight at the lot with fast charging as an option.

The logistics firms said the CF1 differentiates itself from other market offers through its design approach, with a newly configured, driver-friendly cockpit design and special features like digital mirrors and a keyless truck operating system. The payload capacity will be 2.5 tons and with a minimum of 706 cubic feet, all presented in a low-floor cargo area access design.

“This is a substantial development for our start-up. Electric vehicles should be attractive and built in a user-oriented way,” Michael Schoening, president of CityFreighter, said. “I am convinced that the  CF1 will set new standards in the industry.”

Adding to that, Remo Weber, CEO of XPO Sales, a green fleet solution provider, said, “We believe that the CF1 will be a game changer in the industry. We are striving to convert all our fleets into full electric.”

UPS also has plans to deploy 50 plug-in electric delivery trucks in collaboration with Workhorse Group. Workhorse claims the vehicles provide nearly 400 percent fuel efficiency improvement as well as optimum energy efficiency, vehicle performance and a better driver experience. Each truck will have a range of approximately 100 miles between charges, ideal for delivery routes in and around cities.

Last year, Tesla unveiled its first all-electric big rig, drawing immediate customers from among some of the country’s biggest trucking fleets. J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and Walmart Stores Inc., which operate fleets of thousands of trucks, reserved Tesla’s truck, with the first highway-ready vehicles due out in 2019.