Brown Is the New Green: UPS' Electric Truck Order Heralds a Larger, Cheaper EV Fleet

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

UPS, the package delivery company best known for shorts that don’t reach nearly as far down the thigh as its drivers might prefer, wants fewer emissions from its fleet of signature brown delivery vans. It also doesn’t want to pay more for clean vehicles than it has to.

In an announcement Thursday, the company says its partnership with Ohio’s Workhorse Group — a company known for its EV pickup — will yield a delivery truck that doesn’t burn fossil fuels or cost any more than a conventional rig, even without government subsidies. Via a 50-strong fleet of experimental trucks, UPS and Workhorse plan to work out the bugs and create a vehicle for industry-wide adoption.

UPS is no stranger to green vehicles. In addition to its massive fleet of gasoline and diesel-powered trucks, the company’s “Rolling Lab” consists of 9,000 alternative-fuel vehicles, most of them CNG or propane models. Some 300 electric delivery vehicles ply the roads in Europe and the United States, joined by 700 hybrids. There’s even an order placed for 125 Tesla Semi trucks.

What UPS really wants, however, is a new Class 5 truck that’s fully electric and doesn’t cost extra to add to the fleet. The early examples of Workhorse’s cab-forward model, slated for delivery this year, supposedly run 100 miles between charges. This makes them useful for in-town deliveries — where a conventional vehicles suffer high fuel consumption and emissions. Engine noise, especially with diesels, is another consideration.

Based on observations during real-world use, the companies plan to “fine-tune the design in time to deploy a larger fleet in 2019 and beyond,” UPS stated. As for what the thing looks like, there’s only the very sexy rendering seen above. Use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

“This innovation is the result of Workhorse working closely with UPS over the last 4 years refining our electric vehicles with hard fought lessons from millions of road miles and thousands of packages delivered,” said Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse Group. “Our goal is to make it easy for UPS and others to go electric by removing prior roadblocks to large scale acceptance such as cost.”

Given the cost of fuel and the complexity of an internal combustion drivetrain, UPS anticipates lower operating costs on top of the same-as or lower cost of acquisition. The company figures it could replace up to 35,000 vehicles in its fleet with this particular model. What’s the rush, you ask? The company, in a fit of stewardship, has promised that 25 percent of the vehicles it purchases in 2020 will be alternative-fuel models.

If delivery trucks are your secret passion, keep an eye out. The experimental fleet of 50 Workhorse models will first hit the road in Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

[Image: UPS]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Incautious Incautious on Feb 23, 2018

    I love the comment, given the complexity of the internal combustion engine. I'm a WD(warehouse distributor) and run E350 ford vans and get 450,000 plus miles on then without a rebuild.NO BS. Change the oil every 10,000 miles and plugs at 80,000. Not much maintenance cost there. When the battery pack on these UPS trucks quit at say 80 to 100 thousand miles on these UPS truck and has to be replaced at cost of what 20 thousand dollars and up, then what. There goes most the cost savings from not buying gasoline. Never mind the electric bill which will be hundreds of thousands more. I'm all for clean air but if UPS thinks that the are going to save money on this well time will tell. Leaf owners are already finding out about this little tidbit.

  • NeilM NeilM on Feb 23, 2018

    "When the battery pack on these UPS trucks quit at say 80 to 100 thousand miles on these UPS truck and has to be replaced at cost of what 20 thousand dollars and up, then what. There goes most the cost savings from not buying gasoline. Never mind the electric bill which will be hundreds of thousands more. I’m all for clean air but if UPS thinks that the are going to save money on this well time will tell." Gosh, if only UPS had your smarts and had thought to do the calculation.

  • Xidex easier to buy a mustang that already sounds like that. love the coyote growl
  • Oberkanone Shaker motor on an EV. No thanks.
  • Oberkanone Crew Cab 6'4" box, 4x4, BighornInterested in midsize truck from Ram. Our fleet includes fullsize truck as well as Maverick compact and something midsize could replace both. Ram is 1st choice of the current full size offerings, with Ford in 2nd place.
  • EBFlex Nice truck, but it needs a proper engine.
  • SCE to AUX Somehow, I missed your pick for the "right spec".
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