UPS recently announced a demonstration project that will put a prototype electric truck powered by a hydrogen fuel cell through the delivery company’s challenging paces. Fuel cells have been used in some commercial vehicles to power auxiliary systems, but this is the first time that they will be used to propel a vehicle.
The prototype will hit the streets in Sacramento, California this summer in the form of a Class-6 medium-duty delivery truck. It will be used in both short-haul and long-haul environments, where it will be expected to meet or beat the performance of conventional UPS trucks.
The truck is equipped with a 32-kilowatt fuel cell coupled to a 45-kilowatt-hour battery pack that will run the truck’s motor. The fuel cell is powered by 10 kilograms of hydrogen fuel and provides the electricity that charges the battery system. The truck will get about 125 miles of stop-and-go driving from the fuel cell.
This first vehicle will be followed by several others until they rack up a minimum of 5,000 hours on delivery routes. Delivery trucks put on miles under grueling conditions, so increasing their efficiency can go a long way to cutting emissions and fuel costs. The test site is in California because that is where there is the most hydrogen fueling infrastructure and support for fuel cell vehicle deployment.
UPS has been investing for a number of years in cleaner, more efficient vehicles. The company ordered 125 hybrid electric trucks from the Ohio-based electric vehicle company Workhorse last spring and is planning to acquire 200 more. Improving the efficiency of delivery vehicles is a big win for both the economy and the environment.
Photo courtesy of AutoBlog.com.