Fuel cell range extenders for FedEx

by MM&D Online staff

LATHAM, NY—Plug Power Inc will develop hydrogen fuel cell range extenders for 20 FedEx Express electric delivery trucks, allowing FedEx Express to nearly double the amount of territory the vehicles can cover with one charge.

This US$3 million project is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and includes project partners FedEx Express, Plug Power and Smith Electric Vehicles. The resulting hybrid vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion batteries and a 10-kilowatt Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell system. The fuel cell solution is based on Plug Power’s GenDrive Series 1000 product architecture.

Currently, electric delivery trucks are limited to traveling about 80 miles per charge. By doubling the vehicle range, Plug Power’s range extender makes battery-based electric vehicles feasible for nearly all delivery routes. It is an enabling technology that makes electric-powered delivery vehicles a viable solution for a wide range of applications, including parcel delivery trucks, taxis, post office trucks and port vehicles.

Customer interest in this technology provides Plug Power with a market expansion opportunity that leverages its existing technology-set and industry-leading hydrogen fuel cell experience with development funds provided by the DOE. Through successful trials and execution with FedEx Express, Plug Power will display how its range extender solution increases delivery fleet efficiency to over 50 percent, coupled with an approximately 35 to 40 percent decrease in fuel expenses, when compared to diesel trucks.

“Early customer experiences with electric delivery vehicles have been overwhelmingly positive. But only one percent of these vehicles are electric today; we think that this range extender provides the added distance and quick refueling capabilities needed to really grow this market,” said Andy Marsh, Plug Power CEO. “Plug Power’s expertise in the materials handling market—where we have more than 90 percent market share—is an ideal base on which to build this technology. We thank the DOE for selecting us and look forward to working with our partners to help this market take off.”