FedEx is the first company to purchase the trucks and will operate them in the Los Angeles area.
Navistar expects to deliver 400 of the eStar electric trucks to delivery companies or municipalities by the end of this year, thanks, in part, to stimulus funding provided last year by the government.
The eStar all-electric truck is the first medium-duty commercial vehicle to receive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification as a clean fuel fleet vehicle as well as California Air Resources Board (CARB) certification as a zero emissions vehicle.
Lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems is providing the batteries for the eStar 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. FedEx will evaluate the performance of the eStar vehicle in its fleet as it operates in the Los Angeles area.
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. 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.
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. Drivers will be able to experience the ultimate in ergonomic design as the windshield provides nearly 180-degree visibility, the low-floor design provides easy loading/unloading and the noise level is nearly non-existent, which makes this nimble vehicle ideal for urban areas facing noise challenges.