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Your packages: Delivered by electric trucks

April 6, 2010 |  1:08 pm

FedExEV At least some of the boxes and envelopes delivered by FedEx Express in L.A. every day will arrive at their desinations in all-electric trucks. Beginning in late May, Los Angeles will serve as the U.S. pilot for the global delivery service when FedEx adds four electric delivery trucks to its local fleet of 600 vehicles.

"This vehicle fits into our corporate social responsibility goal to improve the fuel efficiency of our fleet 20% by 2020," said John Formisano. The FedEx Express vice president was in L.A. on Tuesday showing off the five-ton Navistar truck that is capable of traveling 100 miles per charge but will be driven less than 50 miles per day by FedEx couriers."Electric is a piece of the puzzle," Formisano said of the truck designed to deliver a lot of packages in a small delivery area.

Two of the four electric vehicles FedEx is piloting are from Navistar, the Illinois-based transportation manufacturer. Assembled in Indiana, the Navistar trucks can carry 3,500 pounds of cargo and are based on a design from Modec, the British manufacturer of zero-emissions commercial vehicles. FedEx hasn't yet announced the manufacturer of the two additional electric trucks that will join its L.A. fleet. Formisano said the company is "evaluating another potential vendor."

The FedEx pilot is designed to evaluate the capabilities of electric technology. Last year, FedEx launched its electric delivery program with 10 Modec trucks in London. The company's experience there is part of the reason the U.S. pilot is launching in L.A., where the climate is warmer and drivers don't need heaters that will drain the vehicles' batteries and reduce their performance.

FedEx also plans to apply for the zero-emission vehicle rebate offered through California's Air Resources board in an effort to offset the cost of the electric trucks, which, Formisano said, is "multiples" of an equivalent gas-powered vehicle.

While the electric delivery trucks made up an exceptionally tiny fraction of the overall FedEx fleet, they're part of a larger FedEx strategy to stimulate demand for electric vehicles and thus reduce their cost, as well as to "secure America's future by getting away from fossil fuels from people who don't like us," Formisano said.

FedEx Express uses about 40,000 trucks to deliver more than 7 million packages to 220 countries and territories every day. Since 2004, when FedEx first started pursuing fuel-efficient technologies, the company has added 325 hybrid vehicles to its global fleet and found other efficiencies that have allowed it to save 34 million gallons of vehicle fuel, or 750 million pounds of CO2 emissions, Formisano said.

"We know we're a large carbon user. Any transportation company is. We know that we're going to use carbon to deliver people's packages," said Formisano, who will soon add five electric trucks to the FedEx fleet in Paris. "We just want to do it in a more efficient manner."

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: FedEx Express