Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) have deployed the first of a planned 15 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) medium-duty delivery vans, as part of their effort to replace diesel-powered vehicles.
A leading courier service is driving these hydrogen FCEV vans to facilitate package deliveries in underserved communities within the Inland Empire, the companies say.
The project team successfully retrofitted and converted diesel delivery vans to a hybrid electric drive, incorporating on-board hydrogen storage and a fuel cell range extender. Frequent stops made during deliveries allow the onboard hydrogen system to recharge the battery, extending the vehicle range and allowing the courier service to meet their route range requirements.
The pilot project aims to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen FCEV vans for delivery operations. It is being developed in partnership with Accelera by Cummins, Unique Electric Solutions (UES), and the University of Texas – Center for Electromechanics (CEM).
“Collaborative efforts among companies and organizations are essential to help achieve California’s climate goals and this innovative project exemplifies such cooperation,” says Neil Navin, chief clean fuels officer at SoCalGas. “The integration of hydrogen storage, fuel cell technology, battery packs and power electronics is designed to ensure sufficient vehicle power, maintain cargo capacity and weight limitations, all while upholding a zero-emission standard.”
The delivery vans benefit from easy access to a public hydrogen fueling station in Ontario, which serves as a refueling point for the retrofitted vans. These vans serve a high concentration of disadvantaged communities, and their conversion to the use of hydrogen FCEVs could help mitigate localized pollution concerns associated with package delivery.
The project team will continue to monitor the results of emissions reductions during this pilot project, providing insight for similar initiatives.
CTE’s broader efforts have assisted nearly 100 transit agencies that have either deployed or will deploy more than 700 zero-emission buses and has managed or participated in almost 40 major projects across the country, helping agencies prepare strategic plans to shift their full fleet of vehicles to zero-emission.