ArvinMeritor helps Purolator introduce electric curbside delivery vehicle

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Purolator, Canada’s largest overnight courier company, recently celebrated a significant milestone in its commitment to the environment by introducing the Quicksider prototype, a battery-operated electric delivery vehicle. The first of its kind in Canada to be used within the courier industry, the Purolator Quicksider is expected to reduce up to 85 percent of greenhouse gas and smog-causing emissions, and will be tested and evaluated for performance on the streets of Toronto.

Manufactured by Toronto-based Unicell in partnership with ArvinMeritor, the Purolator Quicksider combines several operation-enhancing features, including automatic doors, a tighter turning ratio and pneumatic suspension that enables the truck to kneel at curb level to unload packages. With its advanced electric drivetrain, the Quicksider also is expected to require less maintenance than conventional diesel-powered curbside delivery vehicles.

In addition to the introduction of the Quicksider, Purolator also has added 30 new hybrid electric vehicles to its curbside delivery fleet across Canada, with 28 in Vancouver, one in Ottawa and one in Montreal. These vehicles join Purolator’s national greet fleet, which includes 19 HEVs and one fuel-cell hybrid electric vehicle that have been in service in Toronto since 2005.

“At Purolator, we make it our business to know where business is going, and clearly it’s toward sustainable practices that will result in long-term benefits for the environment, customers, employees and business,” says Robert C. Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Purolator. “As Canada’s largest courier company, we are proud to continue to lead the industry towards green alternatives. The Quicksider represents the next step to fulfilling our commitment to protect and preserve the environment and to lead the industry to a future standard of zero vehicle emissions.”

Preliminary design work on the Quicksider first began at Unicell in 2000. In 2003, Purolator joined the development team to provide key insights and recommendations that would help make the electric vehicle more effective for use in a courier environment. After analyzing courier routes and terminal operations with Purolator drivers, managers and engineers, Unicell enhanced its original designs to include features that will help maximize efficiency in delivery operations.

ArvinMeritor, a Troy, Mich.-based drivetrain systems manufacturer, joined the project team in 2004 to design and build the electric axle drivetrain, electric braking system and system integration of motors, gears and controls, for a working prototype vehicle.

The Transportation Development Centre of Transport Canada also has supported the project throughout its development. After completing rigorous safety, handling and compliance testing throughout 2006 and 2007, the Purolator Quicksider will be tested and evaluated for performance as part of Purolator’s existing green fleet in Toronto.

Purolator’s expansion of its green fleet is part of the company’s commitment to being a responsible corporation. After analyzing the environmental impacts of its operations and services, Purolator identified fleet fuel usage and vehicle air emissions as the best way to reduce its environmental footprint. Purolator piloted its first HEV fleet in the Toronto market in 2005 with the goal of eliminating up to 50 percent of greenhouse gasses currently emitted with conventional gasoline/diesel delivery vehicles and reduce fuel consumption by an average of 50 percent. After 333,000 kilometres on the road, the vehicles have saved almost 60,000 litres of fuel and prevented the emission of more than 150 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, in carbon dioxide equivalents, as well as associated smog-causing emissions.

In addition to its fleet, Purolator says it has implemented other environmentally friendly technologies and programs, including:

  • The recent order of 105 HEVs on the Ford E-450 platform, expected to be received in the third and fourth quarters of 2008;
  • Testing of a zero-emissions fuel-cell hybrid electric vehicle (FC-HEV);
  • Construction of an onsite hydrogen production, storage, refueling and dispensing facility;
  • A route optimization program that reduces overall distances traveled by vehicles, thereby minimizing fuel consumption and emissions;
  • A strict no-idling rule which imposes an automatic 20-second maximum idle time on all vehicles, helping conserve fuel and reduce emissions;
  • An energy-efficient lighting program that enables terminals to use less energy, draw less demand on the electrical grid and produce less pollution. The result of the lighting retrofit program has been a 40 percent reduction of energy consumption and energy demand for lighting; and
  • Environmentally responsible packaging, which include PuroLetters made from 50 percent recycled fibres, including 35 percent post-consumer fibres, which are recyclable in virtually all municipal and private recycling programs. In addition, Purolator boxes are made from 40 percent recycled fibres, including 35 percent post-consumer fibres.