As Electric Vehicles Gain Popularity, More Companies See Payback in Trucks

By: DGI Wire

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(DGIwire) – For those who haven’t noticed, more battery-powered cars have been appearing in driveways of consumers. However, electric vehicles are also gaining traction in another realm: commercial delivery fleets.

Staples, FedEx, PepsiCo and a few other companies have deployed these cutting-edge electric delivery trucks. Proponents say they make more sense in many ways than standard electric cars. That’s because delivery trucks generally drive shorter, defined routes every day, which are better suited to the demands of battery power. Moreover,

electric vehicles can provide greater savings to companies than to consumers compared with diesel or gasoline models, not only in fuel costs but also in maintenance.

One company at the forefront of this new trend is AMP Electric Vehicles of Cincinnati, Ohio. Established in 2007, first as a developmental-stage vehicle electrification company, AMP—which is considered by industry insiders as the “Tesla of Trucks”—first experimented with two-seated roadsters before moving to larger vehicles such as SUVs.

But when the economic benefits of conversion became less certain, AMP pivoted away from passenger vehicles and began to focus on electrifying commercial vehicles. In addition to its work with green-powered commercial vehicles, AMP has also developed a delivery drone called HorseFly. Partnering with the University of Cincinnati, the HorseFly is right out of Star Trek: the system rides atop an electric truck and mates to the truck via a portal in the roof of the vehicle. The driver then hands the HorseFly a package and the drone automatically flies to hover directly above the delivery address. A land-based pilot then lands the HorseFly using the four cameras mounted on the vehicle. After the package is dropped off, the drone automatically heads back to the truck. The drone uses photo recognition software to carefully land back into the truck portal.

AMP recently announced that it had successfully completed the build of its prototype Workhorse E-GEN™ Electric Truck. This ultra-efficient truck incorporates a small spark-ignition engine as an emergency generator that automatically turns on to recharge the battery pack only if the pack’s state of charge falls below a predetermined threshold, the drive selector is in PARK and the key is out, typically when the driver is in making deliveries. Very significantly, the truck has been fully approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Stephen Burns, CEO of AMP Electric Vehicles, says, “The use of the engine enables AMP to produce an electric vehicle with a smaller 18650 battery pack with cells from a leading Japanese manufacturer. The new battery pack allows the company to produce a very competitively priced EV while eliminating operator concerns about range. The real benefit to the fleet operator is that the new powertrain, which eliminates the transmission, significantly reduces operating costs—an E-GEN Workhorse truck will deliver the equivalent of 20 mpg compared to the 7.5 mpg most operators get now while reducing maintenance costs.”

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