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Fuel-Cell Truck to Be Used by UPS

August 26, 2004|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

The nation's first medium-duty commercial delivery truck powered by a fuel cell that converts hydrogen gas to electricity begins hauling packages in Los Angeles for United Parcel Service Inc. today.

The truck, a Dodge Sprinter commercial van built by DaimlerChrysler, represents the latest generation of automotive fuel-cell development by the automaker and partner Ballard Power Systems Inc. of Canada.

It will be used on an urban delivery route and is expected to pile up 10,000 miles a year of stop-and-go driving in tough city traffic. Data about the truck's performance will be used to help DaimlerChrysler further its fuel-cell development program, said Eric Ridenour, executive vice president for product development for the Chrysler Group.

Most fuel-cell cars and trucks in use in the United States are being tested by government agencies and universities and are not subject to the grind of daily delivery work.

UPS has 1,800 Sprinters in its fleet, but the new fuel-cell model is the only one using an electric drive system. The truck has the same 1-ton payload and 437 cubic feet of cargo space as a conventional diesel-engine Sprinter.

The fuel-cell system, including storage tanks for the compressed hydrogen gas, is mounted under the floor and powers an 85-kilowatt electric motor. The fuel-cell Sprinter has a range of about 155 miles before needing refueling and a top speed of 80 mph.

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