UPS Trialing Fuel Cell Delivery Vans With Ballard, CALSTART


Ballard Power Systems has signed a contract with CALSTART for a Ballard 30 kW FCveloCity-MD fuel cell module to be used in a trial and development program involving UPS Class 6 delivery vans operating in California’s South Coast Air Basin, including much of the Greater Los Angeles Area.

The range of current battery-powered Class 6 UPS delivery vans is sufficient only for a limited percentage of routes, explains Ballard. This percentage can be further reduced if the delivery locations face unexpected heavier loads, hilly terrain or colder temperatures. Ballard says its fuel cell range extender system can address these limitations by boosting drive range and providing certainty of completing daily delivery missions while maintaining zero-emission performance,.

CALSTART’s primary goal for this project is to demonstrate the business case and technical feasibility of deploying fuel cell hybrid electric Class 6 vehicles with greater range capability such that UPS chooses to deploy up to 1,500 similar vehicles in its California fleet over the next five years – representing a significant percentage of UPS’ 8,000 California delivery vans. The goal is also to demonstrate the economic and technical potential of this technology to other operators of the states’ approximately 650,000 Class 4 to 7 vehicles.

Funding for the project is being provided by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). Other partners for the program include Complete Coach Works and Unique Electric Solutions.

“SCAQMD’s technology advancement programs have helped to ensure wide-scale deployment of low- and zero-emission heavy-duty on-road technologies, including all classes of trucks and buses, to clean the air in the South Coast basin,” comments Wayne Nastri, SCAQMD’s executive officer. “Greater deployment of fuel cell vehicles is expected to provide a reduction of pollutants, especially in disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately exposed to harmful diesel emissions.”

The program with UPS will use a 23,000-lb. Class 6 delivery van capable of speeds up to 65 miles per hour. The UPS van will be equipped with a 71 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 30 kW Ballard fuel cell engine. Viewed as a replacement for an older diesel delivery van, this zero-emission configuration will deliver a net 24 metric ton reduction in greenhouse gases together with a 0.02-ton reduction in criteria pollutant emissions on an annual basis, according to Ballard.

“We are delighted to work with CALSTART to demonstrate the strong fit for our fuel cell module as a range extender in a UPS delivery van,” says Rob Campbell, Ballard’s chief commercial officer. “Particularly those UPS vehicles requiring longer range and operating for more hours during each day – in other words, delivery vans with high utilization rates – will benefit from a hybrid solution using Ballard’s FCveloCity-MD module. We also see rapid hydrogen refueling as a better alternative approach to long battery recharging times.”

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