ATLANTA – UPS’s Automotive division is testing new CV-23 delivery truck prototypes it had custom built by working with Utlilimaster/Isuzu. UPS hopes these vehicles will provide improved fuel economy characteristics and be able to withstand the rigors of long-haul routes.

The CV-23’s four-cylinder diesel engine can produce 150-horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission. UPS said the engine is smaller than the diesel engine used in its P70 delivery truck, and the company is hoping for a 40-percent reduction in fuel use when compared with the P70. Other vehicle characteristics include lighter vehicle weight, approximately 1,000 lbs. less than the P70 (due to the use of ABS plastic), and somewhat less cargo room, with 630 cu. ft. of space compared with 700 cu. ft.

“The UPS Automotive group worked closely with Utilimaster / Isuzu on the engineering requirements to take an ‘off the shelf’ chassis and custom-modify the cab and cargo areas to meet UPS operations requirements while working to save weight and utilize a smaller engine,” said Michael French, public relations supervisor for UPS.

The company is testing the vehicles currently and plans to conclude testing in December. The regions the company is testing these vehicles in include Lincoln, Neb., which has rough back roads; Albany, N.Y, to test the vehicles in tough winter conditions; Tuscon, Ariz., to test them in desert heat; Flint, Mich., which has a long urban route near Isuzu’s headquarters; and Roswell, Ga., which is close to UPS’ corporate automotive department.

The company is basing future purchase decisions related to this prototype vehicle on these tests, French said.

“This test will help UPS determine what the durability and lifespan of this vehicle would be under constant operating conditions,” he said. “If the vehicle holds up to the rigors of UPS's delivery network, and if it achieves a 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency, we would consider purchasing CV-23 vehicles to incorporate into our fleet as the next step in our continuing effort to reduce our dependence on imported fuel.”

One main reason the company is going this route with regard to a potential fleet vehicle is cost.

“The cost of the CV-23 is comparable with the P70,” French said. “That is one of the advantages of this vehicle - it has cost parity due to the use of traditional diesel drivetrains.”

UPS’ French said the company regularly pursues technological innovations to improve its fleet efficiency, from alternative fuels and technologies, such as hybrid-electric or liquefied natural gas, to working on improving current technologies.

“Our telematics system monitors and collects data on vital vehicle systems so our maintenance teams can predict repairs and keep maintenance costs lower on every vehicle in our fleet,” French said. “This test of composite vehicles is one of many improvements UPS Automotive actively explores.”

By Greg Basich

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet