Prototype electric delivery truck for inner city has zero emissions

April 1, 2008
The greenest of the green, environmentally clean trucks shown at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Atlanta is an all-electric delivery truck developed by a truck body builder

The greenest of the green, environmentally clean trucks shown at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Atlanta is an all-electric delivery truck developed by a truck body builder. Unicell Limited in Toronto, Ontario and Buffalo, New York, has developed the QuickSider in conjunction with Purolator Courier Ltd, the leading package delivery company in Canada.

With an all-electric drive, it has zero emissions plus a cargo van capacity that is 10 percent larger because of the elimination of the driveline and cross axles. That also lowers the floor to 14 inches while driving, with a ground clearance of 10 inches. But for making deliveries, the air suspensions lower the rear to the ground and the front side door to curb height.

To speed package delivery, the hands-free doors open automatically. The rear door is an overhead rolling door that opens wide enough for handling cartons stacked on pallets and dollies. With the door threshold at ground level, the truck needs no elevating tailgate or ramp.

The truck body is aerodynamically shaped and molded in one continuous fiberglass piece by Unicell Ltd, a company founded in 1977 by Roger Martin, chairman, as an offshoot of DEL Equipment Ltd in Toronto.

The QuickSider has a stainless steel chassis designed to extend vehicle life beyond 15 years. It rides on electric drive components developed by ArvinMeritor, including independent air-suspended drive wheels with individual drive motors and regenerative braking assisting the disk brakes. Combined horsepower is 230 hp, limited by the current sodium nickel chloride batteries. Plans call for a switch to lithium ion batteries.

This prototype just completed three months of testing in delivery service in Toronto. The short wheelbase of the 25-ft vehicle gives it a curb-to-curb turning circle of 40 ft, or 48-ft wall-to-wall. Range is limited to 40 miles in stop-and-go traffic, or 100 miles on the freeway, where it has a top speed of 65 mph. The 19-ft cargo body has a capacity of 890 cu ft. Curb weight is 10,000 lb, and the payload is 6,500 lb.

The cost is presently estimated at $95,000 for the premium model including all the automatic features. A pared-down model would be closer to $75,000. Mark Mull, business development manager for the QuickSider, says operators could get a payback in as little as five years because of the increase in driver productivity, 10% greater capacity, and maintenance cost reductions of as much as 50%. He says an even greater incentive might be the looming congestion tax and emissions tax in cities such as New York and San Francisco, following the lead of London and other European cities.

New chassis option — electric drive

The NTEA exhibition hall in Atlanta was graced with a bit of nobility in the personage of Lord Borwick, who is chairman of Modec Limited in London. His lordship made the sales pitch himself for his venture into the world of electric vehicles. A chassis-cab was on the exhibit stand, but it is also available as a box van or as an open body with drop sides.

This is an all-electric truck with zero emissions designed for the congested cityscape. It has no side doors in the cab. The driver exits the walk-in cab through a cab bulkhead door, which gives him the option of stepping down on either the left or right side of the vehicle. This is ideal for the delivery van with side doors, but leaves a gap between the cab and body when fitted with an open platform or dropside body.

The cab is 79 inches wide and 103" high, making a bold statement with the wrap-around windshield. The wide driver view extends all the way down to spot obstacles almost under the nose of the cab. A short wheelbase of 142" allows a tight turning circle of 36 ft curb-to-curb. If the lower body panels do strike some object, the dented panels usually bounce right back.

The backbone of the chassis is a wide ladder frame with all of the batteries nested inside the frame rails. The 102 hp electric motor and clutchless transmission are between the wheels. They provide a top speed of 50 mph (software governed) and range of 100 miles. Payload is 4,400 lb.

The battery pack is not purchased but leased to the vehicle owner. The batteries can be recharged in eight hours, or can be swapped in 20 minutes for continuous operation.

Besides the London address, Modec has USA headquarters at 378 Northlake Blvd, #190, North Palm Beach, Florida 33408.

Godwin builds Galion body in stainless steel

This Galion 10-ft, 5-7-yard frameless dump body has been reintroduced by the Godwin Group in Nitronic 30 stainless steel, which has a 40% higher yield strength than 304 stainless. It also costs less because the nitrogen process uses less nickel. The new design has a Hardox steel floor. All body hardware was changed to stainless steel castings, such as the manual tailgate release, top and bottom tailgate hardware, chain anchors, and grain chute door hardware, as shown by Bob Jarvis, sales manager of The Godwin Group.

Quartz shape adds volume to Lanau dump body

Lanau Industries' new Quartz dump body gets its name from the “quartz” shaped bulge in the body sides that adds about 5% more volume. This design is built in lengths from 9 to 22 feet, all with Hardox 450 steel — quarter inch in the floor and tailgate and 3/16" in the sides and front. The hoist cage is full height of the body and is formed as part of the front wall sheet. Steve Guimond, sales manager, says the Lanau company name comes from its location in Lanaudiere, Quebec, where it has been building dump bodies for over 10 years.

The wrap-around windshield of the Modec electric chassis-cab makes a bold statement and shows there is no place to hide an engine. The batteries are mid-ship below the floor, and the electric motor is between the rear wheels.

About the Author

Paul Schenck | Senior Editor