Japanese truck manufacturer Hino introduced a concept all-electric delivery vehicle during the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011. This commercial vehicle allowed Hino to gauge interest from parcel companies and small businesses in short-range trucks powered by electricity. The next stage in Hino’s development of this concept is the EV Truck created in conjunction with Toyota. The EV Truck will be delivered later this month to Yamato Corporation. A trial run of the EV Truck is slated to start in late March and last through the remainder of 2013. Toyota and Hino will manufacture a pair of EV Trucks intended for daily routes in Tokyo. Toyota, Hino and Yamato will assess each vehicle’s performance and practicality before committing to future production.
Hino’s familiarity with the commercial truck market is revealed in the design of the EV Truck. The one-ton delivery vehicle has a low cargo bed for easy loading and unloading. Hino worked with Yamato to install the Cool TA-Q-BIN refrigeration system in the cargo bay. This feature allows the driver to keep frozen or cooled products at the right temperature using only electrical power. The EV Truck uses a front-wheel drive system ideal during adverse weather. The battery pack is placed underneath the passenger area to free up space for cargo and provide proper weight distribution.
The core of the EV Truck is a 70 kW electric motor capable of keeping up with traffic in downtown Tokyo. A 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack should be sufficient for urban routes concentrated in dense neighborhoods. The battery pack can recharge fully in eight hours using a standard 20-volt outlet. An optional 50 kW rapid charger reduces recharging times to about 45 minutes. Hino estimates that the EV Truck can reach a top speed of 37 miles per hour though range estimates were not given. These estimates allow the EV Truck to enter the commercial truck sector without missing a beat.
Yamato’s commitment to the EV Truck is part of a company-wide effort to reduce environmental impacts. The company wants to reduce overall fleet size by retiring high-emitting trucks in exchange for a smaller group of eco-friendly vehicles. Yamato wants to lower fleet emissions immediately, which places a premium on using all-electric vehicles that produce no tailpipe emissions. A final pillar of the company’s fleet conversion is a reduction in delivery distances and vehicle use. This effort might seem contradictory for a delivery firm but Yamato is reviewing inefficiencies in current routing as a means of reducing environmental damage.
Hino and Toyota should glean valuable information from the EV Truck tests starting this month. A year’s worth of maintenance and performance data along with driver evaluations is critical for the vehicle’s future development. The incorporation of the EV Truck into Yamato’s fleet also shows that commercial trucks need not billow exhaust to be successful. Economies throughout the world rely heavily on delivery vehicles to connect products and consumers. A few EV Trucks in Tokyo could be replicated thousands of times to achieve meaningful changes in commercial transportation.