Freightliner Custom Chassis, FedEx Express introduce award-winning Hybrid Electric-Powered Walk-in Vans

GAFFNEY, S.C.—Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC), FedEx Express, Eaton, Utilimaster and Detroit Diesel have teamed to develop a revolutionary and award-winning line of hybrid electric-powered walk-in vans. FedEx Express, who initiated the program, is already benefiting from the use of these first-of-their-kind walk-in vans, which are expected to become a mainstay in the FedEx medium-duty delivery fleet.

With dramatically reduced emissions and improved fuel economy, FCCC’s new hybrid electric-powered vehicle is gaining national attention. In December 2005, FedEx Express received a 2005 Blue Sky Award from CALSTART, an advanced transportation technologies consortium, in “recognition of outstanding marketplace contributions to advanced, sustainable transportation that cleans the air, improves energy efficiency and reduces greenhouse emissions.”

Currently, FedEx Express is operating 18 FCCC hybrid electric-powered walk-in vans in four markets: Sacramento, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; New York City and Washington, D.C. FCCC will produce more than 100 hybrid electric-powered walk-in vans for FedEx and other customers in 2006.

“Freightliner Custom Chassis is extremely proud to be partnering with FedEx as we produce the chassis at our plant with the highly advanced Eaton hybrid-electric system,” says Joe Snyder, FCCC’s product manager for commercial vehicles. “This successful relationship once again puts us on the cutting edge of technology for light- and medium-duty trucks throughout the NAFTA Region and the world.”

“The hybrid-electric vehicle is powered by an electric motor through an energy storage device developed by Eaton and a Mercedes-Benz MBE904 diesel engine from Detroit Diesel,” explains Mike Stark, senior technical sales manager for FCCC. “This combination of conventional diesel and electric propulsion systems provides the extended range and rapid refueling characteristics of a typical diesel engine plus the fuel efficiency and lower emissions of an electric motor.”

The walk-in vans are built on FCCC’s MT-45 SR chassis platform, which continues to provide the operating benefits of a standard Freightliner walk-in van chassis, but with the added value realized by the implementation of the hybrid-electric power train. These vehicles have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of more than 15,000 lb.

Lithium-ion batteries capture and store energy during the “regenerative braking” phase of the vehicle’s operation, providing a source of stored electrical power on demand. All battery charging is provided by the hybrid-electric power train, eliminating the need for a power cord or electrical outlet. This innovative balance between conventional and electrical technology helps improve vehicle emissions and increase fuel economy.

The new hybrid electric-powered walk-in vans have shown improvements in fuel economy of more than 50 percent and a 90-percent reduction in emissions.

“With plans for more than 100 new hybrid walk-in vans slated for 2006, our initial success with FedEx is just the beginning,” says Reid Bigland, president of FCCC. “We’re very excited about our progress thus far and look forward to taking this pioneering development to the next level.”

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van, school bus and shuttle bus markets. It is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC, the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Freightliner produces and markets Class 3 – 8 vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates and is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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