Purolator hybrids hit the streets

TORONTO, (May 30, 2005) — Purolator Courier — the curb-side parcel delivery arm of Canada Post — has rolled out 10 hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and one hydrogen fuel-cell hybrid electric vehicle (FC-HEV) into its Toronto delivery fleet. An additional 20 HEVs will also be integrated into Purolator’s fleet in other major metropolitan areas in Canada.

Developed in conjunction with Azure Dynamics Corporation, Hydrogenics Corporation, Industry Canada’s Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) program and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the FC-HEV and HEVs are the first significant fuel cell hybrid fleet launch in Canada, says Purolator.

Purolator is also developing an on-site hydrogen production, storage and refuelling/dispensing facility.

The HEVs are expected to eliminate up to 50 percent, and the FC-HEVs up to 100 percent of greenhouse gasses currently emitted with conventional gasoline-diesel delivery vehicles. If the experience of these vehicles lives up to expectations, the company intends to add up to 400 HEVs to its fleet annually.

“The piloting of this green technology takes us one step closer to realizing our vision to lead the industry to a future standard of zero vehicle emissions,” Robert Johnson, president and CEO of Purolator, said in a press release.

The HEVs are best used in fleets whose driving cycles are constant stop and go. Energy is regenerated through braking and stored in the battery for driving. The vehicles are equipped with a hybrid series configuration, which uses the internal combustion engine combined with a generator to supply electricity for the battery pack and electric motor, says the company. All motive power is transferred electrically to one or more electric traction motors that drive the wheels — meaning there’s no mechanical connection between the internal combustion engine power unit and the wheels.

The FC-HEV instead uses a fuel cell/battery electric propulsion system that has been designed and integrated by Hydrogenics into an HEV platform. The development of a hydrogen generation and refuelling system has the capability to generate hydrogen cleanly from water using renewable energy, such as wind power. Fleet applications such as Purolator’s represent an early- adopting market for hydrogen fuel cells primarily because fleets typically return daily to a central depot where they can be refueled, the company says.

The FC-HEV project is also one of the first in a series of strategic early deployments of Fuel Cell technology as part of the GTA Hydrogen Village program — a partnership of some 40 companies dedicated to the development of a sustainable commercial market for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the GTA.

The Government of Canada is kicking in over $2.6 million, including $1.9 million from NRCan, for the fleet project.

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