FCCC Unveils Tesla-Powered Walk-in Delivery Van

· · 9 years ago

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. unveiled its MT-EV walk-in van yesterday at a the Hybrid Truck Users Forum conference in Dearborn, Michigan. The event provided the first real look we've had at the first of four electric fleet vehicle designs that are slated to come out of a strategic collaboration agreement between FCCC (a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America) and California-based EV development startup, Enova Systems. The two companies contracted Morgan Olson to provide a light, aerodynamic body for the Tesla-powered chassis that they had unveiled earlier this year.

The MT-EV is expected to have a gross vehicle weight rating of between 14,000 and 19,500 pounds, a range of "up to 100 miles," and an onboard charging system that is capable of bringing the battery to full power in six to eight hours. The vehicle is the first of its kind to utilize Tesla's lithium ion battery technology (which sure has become popular lately) for a fleet delivery truck application.

FCCC boasts that the electric drive premium for MT-EV—compared to a similar diesel-powered vehicle—will pay for itself after 3-4 years. That figure is likely based on estimates that would have lithium ion battery costs dropping significantly by the time the van is ready for production. But if groups like the Electrification Coalition are successful in getting a special subsidy for fleet plug-ins passed in Washington, it would go a long way toward making electric-drive commercial delivery vehicles viable even without a sharp drop in battery costs.

FCCC thinks that the MT-EV will be particularly attractive to parcel delivery companies—several of which have already deployed plug-in test fleets comprised of vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect EV, Navistar's "eStar," and the Smith Newton. With several other electric truck-makers planning releases in the near future as well, companies that want to green their fleets will soon have a variety of options to choose from.

But in order for these vehicles to find sustainable market success, their appeal will have to transcend "going green" and provide real long-term savings for the fleet operators who buy them. That equation will rely on a convergence of factors including battery cost, oil prices, and long-awaited government subsidies.

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