electric Fedex truck from Amp

FedEx has been quite serious about adding electric vehicles to its fleet, saying in 2011 that it would more than double its number EV vehicles. Of course, all that meant was going from 19 to an expected 43, but it's the start of removing some tailpipes. Plus, with overall big green vehicle ambitions, FedEx

In some cases, going EV means using the Nissan NV200 EV prototype in London. In others, it means partnering with upstart Amp Motors to convert two 14,000-pound GVW trucks for FedEx to test in Washington, D.C. This proof of concept, all-electric step van could be a huge first step, as FedEx has said it hopes to convert 9,000 vehicles to EV power. Amp also has a contract with Navistar for a similar van project.

Steve Burns, Amp founder and president, sent an email to AutoblogGreen explaining why the company is interested in these sorts of delivery trucks:

As I know you are keenly aware, it has been a tough year for smaller EV companies (Aptera, Bright, Azure, Think) because the passenger EV market has been a bit slower to evolve than first thought. It is moving nicely, and is actually doing better than hybrids did in 2000 when they first came out, but it is proving to be a slow process to unwind 100 years of an oil based economy that is so tightly woven into the fabric of this great country.

To that end, we began to look for areas that might be more receptive to adapting EVs with our technology in the shorter term. Earlier adoption would provide both learnings and revenue while the passenger EV market to ramps up.

The two major factors that appear to influence EV adoption are:

1) Price
2) Limited Range

We looked for applications that got very poor gas mileage (so that the payback would be quicker) and traveled less than 100 miles per day so that range was not an issue. So, re-powering fleets that utilized larger vehicles for urban deliveries came into focus. And the clearest vehicles that emerged were the step vans used by the likes of FedEx, Navistar. The chassis and bodies on these types of vehicles are typically used for 20 years. So, removing the diesel based drivetrain and re-powering 10-year-old vehicles with all electric drivetrains looked to be the most cost effective manner to get tens of thousands of these vehicles converted from very dirty old style diesel to zero emission electrics. The key was to get the payback under 5 years. Preferably 4 years.

Our ML EV drivetrain pushes around a 5,000-pound vehicle spiritedly. So, the task of moving a 14,000-lb vehicle somewhat spiritedly was not too daunting of a task. So, essentially we utilized our dual Remy model model with large scale cells and our same control software/hardware and we had the formula and the price point.

In other Amp news, the company's first dealer had a launch party recently and, says Burns, "we are about to sign up our second dealer who is one of the top Mercedes-Benz dealers in the country."