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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, July 2012
WEB Exclusive story

Lighter Could Make Brown Stronger

A recently concluded test of composite vehicles will transform the UPS fleet and provide business case ballast to the composites manufacturing sector.


One of the vehicles tested by UPS in five locations across the U.S.

iece by piece, composite materials have inched their way into products formerly monopolized by metals. But how is their performance from an energy efficiency and carbon footprint perspective? New results from United Parcel Service provide some guidance.

In June UPS announced it had tested five CV-23 pilot vehicles from Utilimaster/Isuzu from April 2011 to April 2012 to determine if the vehicles could meet the demands of UPS's operating needs, while producing positive environmental benefits. Here the company offers an overview of the test and results:

  • The goal of the testing was to determine if the CV-23 could withstand the rigors of UPS's daily delivery routes while achieving a 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency over the UPS P70 diesel package car. Factors that were tested include: durability, repair qualities, and structural strength.
  • The CV-23 is approximately 900 lbs lighter than the P70 due to the use of composite body panels and other body elements.
  • The 150-horsepower truck utilizes an Isuzu four-cylinder diesel engine and a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission. The engine is smaller than a traditional UPS diesel engine with the goal that the smaller engine will sip less fuel during daily operations.
  • UPS chose five locations to determine the ability of the CV-23 to handle all types of climate conditions. These routes were chosen because they presented varied extremes that UPS vehicles encounter around the country. The deployment areas included:
  • Lincoln, Neb. – rough back roads
  • Albany, N.Y. – tough winter conditions
  • Tucson, Ariz. – extreme heat of the desert
  • Flint, Mich. – long urban route near Isuzu headquarters
  • Acworth, Ga. – high mileage route and close access for the UPS corporate automotive department

Overview of Results and Next Steps:

  • The test vehicles demonstrated high reliability in all markets and succeeded in achieving a 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency as a result of the advanced powertrain technology, overall vehicle weight reduction and new body aerodynamics. Ease of repairs, durability and maintenance also proved to be positive.
  • As part of UPS's commitment to growing its alternative fleet and minimizing its environmental impact, UPS has ordered 150 Utilimaster/Isuzu CV-23 vehicles to operate along high mileage routes; delivery is expected Q4 of 2012.
  • As a result of the testing, UPS has become even more comfortable with composite material and will consider adding more composite components into larger vehicle types to reduce vehicle weight

The Site Selection Energy Report features exclusive and in-depth reporting and analysis on the most important energy projects and energy policy issues impacting the world of manufacturing and industrial real estate. Topics covered include oil and gas projects, investments into alternative energy installations and R&D, tax credits and financing, electric utility issues and much more.

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