Hybrids

UPS to deploy 50 plug-in hybrid delivery trucks

This small-scale rollout is anticipated to spur great adoption rates in the future.

UPS

If you owned a business and could spend the same amount of money on a plug-in hybrid versus a traditional gas- or diesel-powered vehicle, would you opt for the greener solution? That's what UPS is doing right now.

UPS announced Thursday its intent to bring 50 new plug-in hybrid delivery trucks into its fleet. The vehicles will be new from the ground up and developed by Workhorse Group, which has worked with UPS on green trucks in the past. It's believed that the trucks will be comparably priced to ones that use conventional powertrains.

It's a delivery van. It's not going to be flashy, even with a new-age powertrain hiding underneath all that brown paint.

UPS

While there's no production version to show off yet, UPS did supply a rendering of the truck, along with some basic specs. A large battery will permit electric-only driving for about 100 miles per charge, enough to cover urban delivery routes. It'll have a cab-forward design to make as much room for cargo as possible. The vehicles are expected to improve fuel efficiency by 400 percent when compared to UPS' current non-PHEV fleet.

This first batch of PHEV delivery vans will be tested in cities such as Los Angeles and Atlanta. Later on, UPS and Workhorse will team up to flesh out a much larger fleet in the hopes of replacing many of the 35,000 diesel or gas trucks that currently run routes where a PHEV would be more efficient. UPS hopes that, by 2020, 25 percent of the vehicles it purchases will pack an alternative powertrain.

"With our scale and real-world duty cycles, these new electric trucks will be a quantum leap forward for the purpose-built UPS delivery fleet," said Carlton Rose, UPS president of global fleet maintenance and engineering, in a statement. "The all-electric trucks will deliver by day and recharge overnight. We are uniquely positioned to work with our partners, communities and customers to transform freight transportation."

Workhorse has made electrified moves in other areas, as well. The company unveiled its W-15 electric pickup, which has a range of about 80 miles but packs a gasoline range extender to bump net range to 310 miles. It also developed the N-Gen electric van, which has a slightly longer range at 100 miles and an optional delivery drone. UPS has been busy in other ways, as well, signing an order for 125 Tesla Semi electric trucks.