Electric trucks are on their way to join the FedEx fleet, with commercial EV manufacturer Xos signing an agreement with the logistics giant to deliver 120 battery-electric vans to 35 FedEx locations. The company plans to supply the vans to FedEx Ground independent service providers (ISPs) based in Texas, California, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. The first vans are scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year, with the rest in 2022.
The trucks themselves will use the company’s modular platform, which houses batteries in between the two axles, allowing for customization based on a buyer’s vehicle needs. Dubbed X-Platform 1, the architecture is powered by a proprietary battery design, housed in rectangular blocks, that can be added to an eventual platform as needed during the build phase to accommodate various range needs. This platform supports enough battery modules for a top range of 200 miles, and are positioned either inside the ladder frame, or on the sides of the ladder frame.
“Our batteries operate as intelligent standalone units that can be strung together in any combination, allowing the X-Pack to suit a fleet’s unique needs as well as a wide-range of other commercial vehicle applications,” the company says.
FedEx independent operators are some of several logistics giants introducing EVs into their fleet at the present, and certainly one that also requires a custom design for the vehicle bodies. This growing demand has prompted a number of EV developers to focus on modular “skateboard” platforms that can be adapted for different types of vehicle bodies, aimed at businesses that often require entire fleets of very specific vehicles. As top speed and range considerations are often less of a priority in delivery vehicle fleets, as fleet vehicles are all aimed at overnight recharging at their base, this places a priority on long-term reliability and ease of maintenance.
“Working with FedEx Ground operators, who operate every day within FedEx’s global delivery and logistics network, both validates our business model and our innovative, cost-efficient, zero emission and operationally ready products, which are tailored for commercial fleets focusing on last-mile delivery,” said Dakota Semler, Xos’ Co-Founder and CEO. “We are pleased to support the electrification of FedEx’s medium duty pickup-and-delivery fleet across several U.S. states as FedEx continues to advance sustainability efforts and work toward achieving carbon emissions goals across its global business. We are thrilled with our current FedEx Ground relationships and look forward to expanding them further among the 4,000 FedEx Ground operators who support the FedEx network.”
One nuance is that FedEx Ground is not as centralized as it might seem; these FedEx Ground units in the several states cited by Xos operate under an independent service provider model. FedEx plans to help these independent service providers switch to electric vehicles in the coming years using subsidies, but there is no singular mandate for the ISPs for now to move toward EV adoption. Likewise, there is no federal mandate (to the extent that one can even be enforced) for logistics companies to switch to zero-emission vehicles by a certain date.
Overall, logistics giants are currently taking baby steps toward electrification, so it’s a little too early to celebrate an industry-wide turn to battery-electric vans. To put 120 trucks into perspective, FedEx has a fleet of 180,000 vehicles around the globe with a significant number of ground units staffed by contractors.
Despite a few high-profile orders from the likes of Amazon, it will be a while before the fleets of UPS, FedEX, DHL and others reach even the 10% mark with electric trucks. FedEx, for its part, plans to purchase only EVs by the year 2030, but would presumably operate internal combustion-engined trucks for a while past that date, so there is still some time to go just for this company, or rather its independent service providers, to buy nothing but battery-electric trucks.
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