All-electric FedEx parcel delivery truck, Modec design built by NavistarEnlarge Photo
FedEx has one of the largest alternative-fueled vehicle fleets in the world, and Nissan e-NV200 electric delivery vans are far from the only green vehicles it is testing.
The project--which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy--will make FedEx's electric delivery trucks capable of a wider variety of tasks.
The stock lithium-ion battery packs provide a range of roughly 80 miles per charge, but FedEx hopes the Plug Power fuel-cell range extenders will double the range of the delivery trucks.
Renault 'HyKangoo' electric delivery van with Symbio FCell hydrogen fuel-cell range extenderEnlarge Photo
Hydrogen fuel cells are usually thought of as an alternative--rather than a range-extending supplement--to battery packs for powering electrically-driven vehicles.
But the fuel-cell range extender concept may be starting gain a bit of traction.
La Poste--the French postal service--will test hydrogen range-extenders in three Renault Kangoo ZE small electric delivery vans.
These "HyKangoo" vans feature 5-kilowatt fuel-cell stacks from Paris-based Symbio FCell; they fit under the vehicles' cargo floors and should roughly double their range.
The "HyKangoo" vans are expected to begin testing by March.
The French hydrogen range extenders are also expected to be beneficial to battery life, as deep discharge cycles can be avoided.
Waste heat from the stack can also be used to warm the cabin, further reducing the load on the battery.
FedEx did not say where it would get hydrogen for its vehicles, but La Poste hopes to eventually use electrolysis to split hydrogen out from feedstock. It will purchase hydrogen from an industrial supplier in the meantime.
If the experiments prove successful, fleet operators may have the option of a new type of electrified vehicle for longer delivery routes.
Assuming, that is, that they can procure a source of hydrogen fuel to be installed at their fleet yards.