UPS has announced it will deploy a prototype extended range Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) in its Rolling Laboratory fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. UPS is working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other partners to design a zero tailpipe emissions, Class 6 medium-duty delivery truck that meets the same route and range requirements of UPS’s existing conventional fuel vehicles.
Unlike fuel cell auxiliary power units, this vehicle will use the onboard fuel cell to generate electricity to propel the vehicle. The first FCEV prototype will be deployed in Sacramento, where UPS will validate its design and core performance requirements by testing it on the street starting the third quarter of 2017. Current project plans call for additional UPS trucks to be validated with at least 5,000 hours of in-service operational performance. All of the trucks will be deployed in California due to that state’s ongoing investment in zero tailpipe emissions transportation and the instalment of hydrogen fueling stations around the state.
“The challenge we face with fuel cell technology is to ensure the design can meet the unique operational demands of our delivery vehicles on a commercial scale,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president, global engineering and sustainability. “This project is an essential step to test the zero tailpipe emissions technology and vehicle on the road for UPS and the transportation industry. We have a long history of developing and promoting the use of more sustainable alternative fuels with our Rolling Laboratory, and hope that by bringing our unique expertise to the development of hydrogen fuels, we can help advance the technology.”
Each FCEV produces electricity which continuously charges the batteries, thereby providing additional power and an extended range of 125 miles. The UPS trucks are equipped with a 32kW fuel cell coupled to 45kWh of battery storage and 10kg of hydrogen fuel. The drive train runs on electricity supplied by batteries. Unlike other fuel cell applications, this will support the full duty cycle of the truck, including highway driving.
The project is part of a fuel cell project grant awarded by DOE in 2013 focused on verifying the proof of concept in commercial delivery vehicles. The project calls for retrofitting conventional fuel trucks with fuel cell electric systems designed specifically for use in a delivery truck duty cycle. UPS is partnering with the Center for Transportation and the Environment as well as Unique Electric Solutions LLC and the University of Texas’ Center for Electromechanics.