UPS is constantly seeking new, more efficient, more environmentally friendly ways to deliver the packages that are the core of its business. Worldwide, it has about 9,300 low emissions vehicles in its fleet. They run the gamut from electric trucks to vehicles that are powered by hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and propane. In some places, it even uses old fashioned pedal power to get the job done.
When it comes to electrics, it is already testing vehicles manufactured by ARRIVAL, Daimler, Tesla, Workhorse and others. Now it says it will add a Class 6 medium-duty electric truck from Los Angeles-based Thor to its test fleet. “UPS believes in the future of commercial electric vehicles. We want to support the research needed to make advances and the companies developing those innovative products,” says Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering for UPS. “Performance is critical in our fleet. We are excited to get this vehicle on the road to test how it handles routes in and around Los Angeles.”
Thor is the creation of two twenty-somethings from Southern California — Dakota Semler and Giordano Sordoni. It currently has 17 employees and specializes in innovative battery and control system technology. “There’s a tendency to simplify the truck market and think there will be one winner here,” Semler says. “The reality is that there are all kinds of work trucks, and we’re designing a type of transportation lab to cater to all of these.” Its battery for UPS will be “lightweight and durable” with a range of 100 miles. Just how durable will be determined during the 6 month test period, which will include some off road use, according to Engadget.
Mike Britt supervised the maintenance of the UPS trucking fleet, including its alternative fuel vehicles, for 30 years. He tells Bloomberg Thor’s approach just might work, because a small team working quickly stands a decent chance of carving out a niche market for itself. “The big trucking companies just aren’t quite as nimble. UPS used many small startups to build 200 to 2,000 alternative-fuel vehicles. It’s when you start to ramp above those numbers, and need real production expertise and facilities, that things could get trickier for Thor.”
After the trial period, UPS will decide whether to purchase any more vehicles from Thor. That’s when the tricky part of the process will begin. Semler and Sordoni can’t wait.
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