E-commerce is booming, and it’s only expected to grow – from $505 billion in the U.S. in 2018 to $735 billion in 2023, according to Statista. And that’s generating a huge need for green vehicles to deliver all those packages.
“There’s a lot of stuff to handle, so the industry is looking for solutions,” said Michael Schoening, president of the clean tech startup CityFreighter, which unveiled its delivery truck at Wednesday’s Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach.
Called the CF1, it’s an all-electric, last-mile, medium-duty delivery truck with an ultra-low floor that makes it easy to load and unload, a keyless entry system that remotely opens and closes the door, and a modern design. It features a Tesla-esque navigation screen designed to appeal to younger drivers at a time when companies are struggling to recruit new delivery people.
Payload for the CF1 is 2.4 tons. Its cargo box has a minimum of 710 cubic feet. And its electric driving range is 100 miles.
“It isn’t simply enough to change the combustion engine and put in an electric motor,” Schoening said. “Nobody is buying an electric truck because it’s electric. You have to show that you’re saving operations costs, so one of our main focuses is a very driver-, customer-oriented design.”
Schoening said delivery people waste time loading and unloading packages with a lift that’s only necessary because the truck floor is too high. With the CF1’s electric air suspension, “when the driver opens the door and opens the shutter at the back, it’s all electric and keyless. The truck automatically lowers down.”
How low does it go? It’s 17 inches. By comparison, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo van has a loading edge of 21 inches.
“It makes it much easier for the operator to get in and out, so you don’t need a step,” Schoening said.
Other features are designed to make the delivery driver’s job easier.
The key fob serves as an authorization. When the driver approaches the truck with the key, it automatically unlocks and opens the cargo doors. It also relocks and closes them when the driver walks away.
TWO YEARS IN DEVELOPMENT
In development for two years, the CF1 incorporated feedback from CityFreighter interviews with United Parcel Service and DHL drivers. They can make up to 80 stops per shift.
“Any additional thing you need to do, whether it’s opening a handle or pulling the key out of your pocket, it adds up,” Schoening said. “In the end, the package is driving this whole thing. The truck for the last mile, it’s part of the supply chain system.”
With offices in the U.S., China and Europe, CityFreighter plans to enter the U.S. market first, followed by Europe. It has already presold 500 CF1s to XPO Sales, a green leasing service based in Inglewood, Calif., that is focused on commercial fleet operators.
“The CF1 will be a game changer for the industry,” Remo Weber, chief executive of XPO Sales, said in a statement. “When we signed the initial letter of intent for the purchase of 100 trucks, there were only concept drawings in existence.”
After seeing the prototype unveiled at this week’s ACT Expo, XPO Sales increased its order to 500 trucks, which it will lease out to its fleet customers.