An artist's rendition of the UPS plug-in electric delivery truck.

UPS said it plans to deploy 50 plug-in electric delivery trucks, collaborating with Workhorse Group Inc. to design the vehicles from the ground up with zero tailpipe emissions.

“Electric vehicle technology is rapidly improving with battery, charging and smart grid advances that allow us to specify our delivery vehicles to eliminate emissions, noise and dependence on diesel and gasoline,” said Carlton Rose, president, Global Fleet Maintenance and Engineering for UPS. “With our scale and real-world duty cycles, these new electric trucks will be a quantum leap forward for the purpose-built UPS delivery fleet. The all-electric trucks will deliver by day and recharge overnight. We are uniquely positioned to work with our partners, communities and customers to transform freight transportation.”

Each truck will have a range of approximately 100 miles between charges, ideal for delivery routes in and around cities, UPS said. The Class 5 trucks will rely on a cab-forward design, which optimizes the driver compartment and cargo area, increasing efficiency and reducing vehicle weight. The new trucks will join the company’s Rolling Lab, a growing fleet of more than 9000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.  

“This innovation is the result of Workhorse working closely with UPS over the last four years refining our electric vehicles with hard-fought lessons from millions of road miles and thousands of packages delivered,” said Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse Group. “Our goal is to make it easy for UPS and others to go electric by removing prior roadblocks to large-scale acceptance such as cost.”

UPS will test the vehicles primarily on urban routes across the country, including Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles. With zero emissions and lower noise, the electric delivery trucks will help UPS make its fleet cleaner and quieter, a significant benefit in urban areas.

Following real-world test deployments, UPS and Workhorse will fine-tune the design in time to deploy a larger fleet for 2019 and beyond. UPS’s goal is to make the new electric vehicles a standard selection, where appropriate, in its fleet of the future. UPS has approximately 35,000 diesel or gasoline trucks in its fleet and more than 300 electric vehicles deployed in Europe and the U.S., and nearly 700 hybrid electric vehicles. The company recently ordered 125 new fully-electric Semi tractors to be built by Tesla in 2019, the largest pre-order to date. Additionally, last September, UPS announced it will become the first commercial customer in the U.S. to start using three medium-duty electric trucks from Daimler Trucks Fuso brand, called the eCanter.

The initiative will help UPS attain its goal of one in four new vehicles purchased by 2020 being an alternative fuel or advanced technology vehicle, the company said.