These days, seemingly every company on the planet is looking to apply an environmentally friendly sheen to its operations, and FedEx is no different. Although emissions-free cargo planes are still a faraway dream, FedEx has begun to assess how to green up its delivery vehicle fleet, and not surprisingly, an all-electric truck is part of its evolving plan.
As FedEx Express vice president John Formisano puts it, the electric truck represents a huge investment in the package delivery giant's future. The truck's original concept and design was championed by Modec, a U.K. outfit specializing in zero-emissions commercial vehicles. While Modec built 10 pilot vehicles for FedEx Express use in London last year, Navistar has supplied the first few models on this side of the pond. The first formal U.S. test bed is Los Angeles, where we were recently on hand to scope out FedEx's project.
Out on city streets, you get used to the one-and-done design of today's urban delivery trucks. But FedEx's new EV truck is decidedly different. It features a distinctive cab design that looks modern, clean, and more compact than the standard FedEx truck. The smoothed front end offers generous amounts of forward and all-around visibility. The driver enters and exits through a side door located directly behind the passenger seat, more akin to a bus than the delivery vehicles we know today.
Inside, the simple appointments remind us of the still evolving nature of the electric-vehicle segment. The steering wheel is accompanied by little more than a gear selector, a center-mounted graphical gauge cluster on the dashboard, and a no-frills center stack. All lighting is converted to LED to reduce power consumption while air conditioning -- an extraneous burden on full-electric vehicles -- is left off the features list (we bet FedEx's L.A. test crew was thrilled to hear that). The seats are in an advantageous, high position and not at all uncomfortable. Surprisingly, the two side windows are power-assisted and a rearview-camera monitor is mounted just above the windshield. The cargo hold, albeit cluttered during our visit, is fitted with full-length shelving running from the cab to the aft doors.