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FedEx announces hydrogen fuel cell range extender trial

The $3m (£1.8m) project is part-funded by the U.S. Energy Department’s recently-announced $7m (£4.25m) investment in hydrogen fuel cell technology and infrastructure, and FedEx Express will work with Smith Electric Vehicles – the manufacturer of most of its electric delivery vans – and Plug Power.

Fitting a 10kW Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell system to the Smith Electric Newton vans doubles the pure-electric model’s 80-mile range, allowing the vans to be feasible for nearly delivery routes, according to FedEx Express. It also means the vans can be used for a wider range of applications.

Hydrogen fuel cells use a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate the electricity used to drive the vans’ electric motor and recharge its lithium ion battery. Refuelling takes minutes and the only by-product is water vapour.

Plug Power claims a 50% increase in fleet efficiency and a 35-40% decrease in fuel expenses compared to an equivalent diesel vehicle, as a result of using its hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Andy Marsh, Plug Power CEO, said: ‘Early customer experiences with electric delivery vehicles have been overwhelmingly positive. But only 1% of these vehicles are electric today; we think that this range extender provides the added distance and quick refueling capabilities needed to really grow this market.’

Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.

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