The Quicksider EV delivery van displays its kneeling capabilities during its introduction.

The Quicksider EV delivery van displays its kneeling capabilities during its introduction.

Photo: Purolator

Contrary to popular belief, urban package delivery vehicles spend more time parked while making deliveries or doing pickups than they actually spend on the road. As it turns out, the average delivery vehicle only travels 23 miles a day. Purolator Courier’s new electric vehicle (EV), the Quicksider, fits this kind of driving.

While operating, Purolator’s Quicksider EV is a zero-emission vehicle. Emissions associated with charging its battery are expected to be fewer than 20 percent of those produced by a conventional diesel-powered, curbside delivery vehicle. The Quicksider EV will be tested and evaluated for performance on the streets of Toronto.

Preliminary design work on the Quicksider EV began at Toronto-based Unicell Limited in 2000. In 2003, Purolator joined the development team to provide key insights and recommendations to 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 with features to help maximize efficiency in delivery operations.

Drivetrain systems manufacturer ArvinMeritor joined the project team in 2004 to design and build the electric axle drivetrain, regenerative braking system, and system integration of motors, gears, and controls for a working prototype vehicle. The Transportation Development Centre of Transport Canada has also supported the project throughout its development.

High Features & Low Maintenance

The Purolator Quicksider EV combines several operation-enhancing features, including automatic doors, a tight turning radius, and a pneumatic suspension enabling the truck to kneel to curb level to unload packages. With its advanced electric drivetrain, the Quicksider EV is expected to require less maintenance than a conventional diesel-powered curbside delivery vehicle.

The 16-ft. fiberglass-bodied van is built on a stainless-steel chassis and uses a sodium nickel chloride battery that provides a 40-mile range and top speed of 65 mph. Cargo capacity is 10-percent more than a conventional 16-ft. step van. The electric motors in the powertrain deliver a combined 230 hp and are currently powered by a sodium nickel chloride battery pack. Another partner in the program, Electrovaya, is working on a lithium-ion battery pack for testing in the Quicksider EV.

With one-piece body aerodynamics, the van shows half the drag of conventional delivery vehicles, a feature that leads to greater mileage. In fact, during the testing, (traditionally performed by taking a vehicle up to 37 mph, placing it in neutral, and measuring the distance before it stops), officials had to double the length of the testing area to get results.

In addition to the Quicksider EV prototype, Purolator added 30 new hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) to its curbside delivery fleet across Canada, with 28 in Vancouver, one in Ottawa, and one in Montreal. The vehicles join Purolator’s national green fleet, which includes 19 HEVs and one fuel-cell hybrid electric vehicle, in service in Toronto since 2005. 

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Paul Dexler

Paul Dexler

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Paul Dexler is a former contributor to Bobit Business Media's AutoGroup.

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