Last October, I got a chance to drive the first Workhorse E-Gen plug-in hybrid delivery van placed in service by WB Mason at its Brockton, Massachusetts, headquarters. Since then, WB Mason has added three more of the electric vans with a small range extender engine to its fleet. Now, after more than 6 months of testing, it has discovered how to maximize the capabilities of the electric drivetrain.
John DiLuna, the company’s corporate fleet manager, told me in an email recently, “We’ve been having great success with our e-truck and are looking forward to expanding our ‘green’ truck delivery fleet. What we have found is that how the unit is driven and how the range parameters are set, are as important as plugging it in. There is a lot of energy to be captured by driving the truck properly.”
Like many EV owners, John DiLuna has discovered the joys of one-pedal driving. In the E-Gen van, the driver can control the amount of regenerative braking available. Keeping the accelerator partially depressed produces mild regen. Releasing the pedal completely produces strong regen — enough to slow the vehicle so that only a light tap on the brake pedal is needed to bring the vehicle to a complete halt. With proper training, a delivery driver can add a significant amount of electric-only range by managing the regenerative braking feature. To help his drivers understand the benefits of regen, DiLuna and his staff have put together a visual presentation they call One Pedal Wonderful.
The E-Gen van from Workhorse allows the driver or local fleet manager to program the van’s computer at the beginning of each delivery route to maximize the amount of time done solely on battery power and minimize the amount of time the range extender engine needs to operate. “With the REx motor, the computer determines whether to charge on not,” John DiLuna says. “If the day’s route can be made on a single charge, the REx motor won’t even come on and the truck will wait to charge at the end of the day. If the day’s route will exceed the battery’s capabilities, setting the perimeters at the beginning of the route minimizes the amount of time the REx motor will be in operation during the route.”
WB Mason is looking forward to strengthening its partnership with Workhorse while it continues to explore the best practices that will make its delivery process as environmentally friendly as possible. “It’s an exciting time to be managing a fleet!” John DiLuna says.
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