Back in January, Nissan revealed that FedEx Express will begin trialing an all-electric delivery van in the United States. After successful trials of the Nissan e-NV200 electric vans in Japan, Singapore, the U.K. and Brazil, FedEx will begin testing its zero-emission delivery vehicle in Washington, D.C.
Similar to Nissan’s LEAF sedan, the e-NV200 has a range of approximately 100 miles, so it will be used for short-range deliveries but during busy shifts, according to Green Car Reports. In addition, FedEx hopes that the use of these electric vans will help the company reach sustainability goals under its EarthSmart Program, which supports its goal of boosting efficiency and reducing emissions through business solutions, workplace culture, and community outreach.
Americans may be familiar with FedEx’s initiative to use electric delivery vehicles, especially in densely populated urban areas, where the fuel savings and emissions reduction from electric vehicles is most valuable. From New York City to San Francisco, the delivery company has been operating the easily-recognized Navistar eStar, a small electric truck that is larger than a van, but not quite as large as a medium-duty truck. FedEx has even shown interest in using larger electric trucks, such as those built by Smith Electric Vehicles and AMP Electric Vehicles.
However, before fully embracing electric vehicles across its fleet, FedEx has been conducting its due diligence and testing how this new technology fits its operations as well as economic expectations. Like for so many large companies, pilot projects, such as trials of the e-NV200 across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and now the United States, are a necessary first step toward wide-scale adoption. In fact, last month the Wall Street Journal reported that FedEx will test hydrogen fuel-cell range extenders on its Smith Newton electric trucks as a part of its vetting of electric transportation technologies.
FedEx is not the only delivery company going green with electric vehicles. Its two largest competitors, UPS and DHL, are also entering the fray. Last year, UPS began receiving deliveries for an order of 100 all-electric step vans from Electric Vehicles International (EVI), a commercial EV manufacturer that offers a small, light-duty EV, electric step van, range-extended electric utility truck, and medium-duty electric truck. UPS’s electric step vans were heavily subsidized to be used in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which suffers from some of the Country’s poorest air quality.
DHL, on the other hand, has pioneered electric delivery van adoption, beating FedEx to the punch by a considerable margin. Back in 2011, DHL began using all-electric versions of the Ford Transit Connect in New York City as a part of its GoGreen Program. Although Ford no longer offers the electric Transit Connect, DHL’s electric delivery vans are still being put to good use in the Big Apple.
Ultimately, FedEx’s Washington, D.C. trial of the Nissan e-NV200 is not a first crack at piloting a commercial electric vehicle. As noted, it isn’t even the first time a large delivery company will be using an electric van in the U.S. However, the scale at which FedEx has been deploying the e-NV200 is a good omen for its wide-scale adoption. Trials across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the U.S. indicate that FedEx is seriously considering the electric van’s integration into its global delivery fleet. This possibility, combined with the fact that Nissan is arguably the global leader in electric vehicle production, could result in large purchase orders for the e-NV200 that Nissan would be able to fill. Time will tell whether electric delivery vans are a boom, a bust, or somewhere in between for FedEx.