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COMPETITION WATCH: FedEx Express adding more hybrid trucks to its fleet

WASHINGTON, DC -- FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. will be adding up to 75 hybrid, diesel-electric trucks...

WASHINGTON, DC — FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. will be adding up to 75 hybrid, diesel-electric trucks to its service fleet in the next 12 months.

The announcement coincided with the unveiling of two FedEx hybrid trucks in the U.S. capital recently, which brought the company-wide total of hybrid trucks in use to 18.

“Placing hybrid trucks in Washington D.C., and the planned increase for next year reflects the growing viability of hybrid trucks,” said John Formisano, vice president of Global Vehicles, FedEx Express.

“It also shows the commitment of FedEx to pursue the use of promising technologies that both reduce fuel costs and provide more environmentally responsive vehicles for the communities in which we live and work.”

The Washington, D.C. rollout is a joint initiative with Environmental Defense and Eaton Corporation.

The FedEx E700 hybrid electric vehicle decreases particulate emissions by 96 percent and travels 57 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than a conventional FedEx truck, reducing fuel costs by more than one third.

The project began four years ago when Environmental Defense, an organization recognized for its work with industry leaders to create environmental and business innovations, and FedEx Express began working together to create the next generation delivery vehicle.

“The commitment by FedEx to purchase hybrids demonstrates the business viability of these trucks on the road,” said Gwen Ruta, director of Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense. “As fuel prices continue to rise, fuel efficient trucks are an investment that every company should be making.”

Cleveland, Ohio-based Eaton Corporation produced the hybrid electric powertrain for the vehicle.

“In order to encourage wider adoption of hybrid technology, we need the support of Congress for the passage of incentive tax credits for purchasing this clean, fuel-efficient technology,” said Jim Sweetnam, senior vice president and group executive of Eaton’s Truck Group.

FedEx currently has 18 hybrid trucks in service in Sacramento, New York, Tampa and now Washington, D.C. The vehicles have experienced up-time ranging from 96 to 99 percent, which is impressive for any new vehicle considering that the average up-time for the rest of the fleet is 99.6 percent.

he trucks are meeting environmental goals based on recent lab testing at the Southwest Research Institute, which found a particulate matter reduction of 96 percent, a NOx reduction of 65 percent and increased fuel efficiency of 57 percent, compared to the 1999 baseline vehicle. Placement of new trucks is expected in Texas and New York City.
The project partners, Environmental Defense, FedEx and Eaton, have worked closely with a number of suppliers to find solutions to allow greater adoption of hybrid electric vehicles by more fleets. Freightliner Custom Chassis was instrumental in supplying the chassis and assembling the 18 vehicles that have been placed into operation over the past year, starting in Sacramento. Utilimaster, Hitachi and Detroit Diesel each provided key components and worked with project partners to customize their components for the hybrid trucks.

Eaton’s hybrid-electric powertrain effectively combines a diesel engine and electric motor to drive the vehicle. A computer determines the most efficient combination, depending on current operating conditions and driver demand. A four-cylinder engine replaces the six-cylinder version currently used in the FedEx Express W700 delivery vehicle. The engine size is reduced because of the added power provided by the electric motor. A particulate trap has been added to the truck to further reduce emissions.

Batteries capture and store energy during the “regenerative braking” phase of the vehicle’s operation, providing a source of stored electric power for the motor during future acceleration. Therefore, all electrical charging of the battery is provided by the hybrid electric powertrain, and no external electrical infrastructure, such as a power cord or electrical outlet, is needed.

The hybrid electric truck’s operating characteristics will remain virtually unchanged from that of a conventionally powered FedEx Express vehicle.

Eaton’s hybrid electric powertrain has been placed in the standard white FedEx Express W700 delivery truck, which utilizes a Freightliner chassis and a Utilimaster body. The hybrid electric E700, which bears an OptiFleet brand decal on the sides and rear of the vehicle, has a gross vehicle weight of approximately 16,000 lbs. and a cargo capacity of approximately 670 cubic feet.

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