UPS to deploy nation’s first Class 6 fuel cell delivery vehicle

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UPS will deploy the nation’s first Class 6 hydrogen fuel cell delivery vehicle this fall in Sacramento.UPS will deploy the nation’s first Class 6 hydrogen fuel cell delivery vehicle this fall in Sacramento.

UPS today announced it will deploy the nation’s first Class 6 prototype extended range Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) in its Rolling Laboratory fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

UPS is working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other partners to design a first-of-its-kind, zero tailpipe emissions, medium-duty delivery truck that meets the same route and range requirements of UPS’s existing conventional fuel vehicles.

Unlike fuel cell auxiliary power units, this vehicle will use the onboard fuel cell to generate electricity to propel the vehicle.

Mike Britt, UPS director of maintenance and engineering, explained that all 17 FCEVs will be put to work throughout California given the state’s ongoing investment in zero tailpipe emissions transportation and installment of hydrogen fueling stations.

“We’re looking for this to be a global propulsion solution,” Britt explained. “Our long term is to go with renewable hydrogen. We want to get renewable hydrogen built into the mix here because we get that double carbon credit before the tailpipe, before the tank and then the tank to tailpipe zero emissions—that’s our strategy, our long term goal.

“California has 14 stations right now. There’s going to be 28 by the end of the year and another 36 on top of that by the end of 2018. So, California gets it.”

A long term goal for UPS is to use renewable hydrogen in its fuel cell trucks.A long term goal for UPS is to use renewable hydrogen in its fuel cell trucks.

The first FCEV prototype will be deployed in Sacramento in the fall, followed by Ontario and then Napa Valley. This summer, a public hydrogen fueling station will be opening in Ontario adjacent to a UPS facility, Britt said.

Current project plans call for additional UPS fuel cell trucks to be validated with at least 5,000 hours of in-service operational performance. As each FCEV is deployed, it will replace a conventional UPS delivery vehicle.

“The challenge we face with fuel cell technology is to ensure the design can meet the unique operational demands of our delivery vehicles on a commercial scale,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president global engineering and sustainability. “This project is an essential step to test the zero tailpipe emissions technology and vehicle on the road for UPS and the transportation industry. We have a long history of developing and promoting the use of more sustainable alternative fuels with our Rolling Laboratory, and hope that by bringing our unique expertise to the development of hydrogen fuels, we can help advance the technology.”

Each FCEV produces electricity which continuously charges the batteries, thereby providing additional power and an extended range of 125 miles. The UPS trucks are equipped with a 32kW fuel cell coupled to 45kWh of battery storage and 10kg of hydrogen fuel. The drive train runs on electricity supplied by batteries. Unlike other fuel cell applications, this will support the full duty cycle of the truck, including highway driving.

The project is part of a fuel cell project grant awarded by DOE in 2013 focused on verifying the proof of concept in commercial delivery vehicles. UPS is committed to evaluating these technologies that support the nation’s energy security, fuel diversity, and economic growth priorities. The project calls for retrofitting conventional fuel trucks with fuel cell electric systems designed specifically for use in a delivery truck duty cycle. UPS is partnering with the Center for Transportation and the Environment as well as Unique Electric Solutions LLC and the University of Texas’ Center for Electromechanics.

UPS has invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations globally since 2009. UPS has deployed more than 8,300 vehicles using its Rolling Laboratory approach to determine what works best in each situation. From old-fashioned pedal power and electric-assisted bicycles in dense urban areas to electric, hybrid electric, natural gas, renewable natural gas, propane and renewable diesel fueled vehicles, UPS has been pursuing alternative sources of transportation all over the world.