It’s been a good few months for Kansas City-based Smith Electric Vehicles. The company has secured sales of its all-electric trucks to Frito-Lay in Boston, to Coca-Cola in New York (where a brand-new manufacturing facility is being built) and even partnered with Trans Tech for a green school bus. Adding to the list of big name brands, Smith Electric Vehicles has announced that FedEx will employee a fleet of the company’s Newton Step Vans.
News of the fleet was released during the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, a fitting location as the Newton Step Van features a walk-in body that is produced by Indiana-based Utilimaster, a company that has also partnered with hybrid system company Azure Dynamics, which also provides green delivery vehicles.
FedEx has been greening its fleet over the last year, claiming to add more than 4,000 new fuel-efficient vehicles to its roster. Not all of those new vehicles are all-electric, but a report from MIT earlier this year suggested that electric vehicles can be a significant way to save on costs over diesel delivery trucks in urban areas. Currently, FedEx already uses Smith’s smaller model, the Edison panel van.
“This opportunity helps support our goal to optimize and operate our vehicle fleet in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner,” Dennis Beal, vice president of Global Vehicles at FedEx Express, said in a statement. “Smith’s global footprint and track record of successful EV deployments make it an ideal collaborator as FedEx continues to improve its fleet efficiency, reducing emissions while providing the best possible service to our customers around the world.”
Although Smith Electric Vehicles has a manufacturing base in Kansas City—with that facility coming soon to New York, as well—the company got its start servicing electric vehicles in England, where it still has a plant outside Newcastle.
The company’s Newton Step Van has a gross vehicle weight of between 14,000 and 26,000 pounds, and is based on the larger Newton truck, the same model used by Staples, Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay. The Newton Step Van is powered by Smith’s zero-emission, proprietary drivetrain technology that incorporates a brushless permanent magnet motor and a lithium-ion battery through Valence or A123.
The vans are also equipped with Smith Link which features a remote GPS monitoring system, along with an onboard monitoring system of the vehicle’s vital statistics, including battery charge, temperature, voltage and current. According to Smith, the vans can travel about 100 miles on a single charge.
“The leadership shown by FedEx in adopting all-electric vehicles has been instrumental to growing the industry,” said Bryan Hansel, CEO and chairman of Smith. “We welcome FedEx and look forward to successful vehicle deployments that demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of fleet electrification.”
The first of the Newton Step Vans will be deployed to select cities across the U.S. over the course of the year, although the exact number, and just how effective they will be be in lowering greenhouse gas emissions for a larger FedEx fleet, remains to be seen.