UPS intends to purchase 150 composite-bodied vehicles, as a result of a year-long pilot programme to test the composite materials’ durability, repair qualities and structural strength.
The delivery van with composite body panels and other body elements weighs nearly 900 lbs lighter than a traditional truck. According to test results, this overall weight reduction, combined with advanced powertrain technology and new body aerodynamics, results in a 40% increase in fuel efficiency over the UPS P70 diesel package car.
Ease of repairs, durability and maintenance also proved to be positive. A year’s worth of testing five trucks in high-mileage settings showed that composites are durable, work well in all kinds of climates (especially where corrosion from road salt is an issue) and are easily repaired since they are modular.
UPS has had some limited composite materials included in previous vehicles but this version extends the material across the entire vehicle with the exception of the floor. This area still requires metal structures to protect and support the weight of the shipments inside.
Delivery of the composite vans is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2012.
As a result of the testing, UPS has become even more comfortable with composite materials and will consider adding more composite components into larger vehicle types to reduce vehicle weight.
The use of composite materials signals a strategic shift for UPS. In the past, UPS package cars were “built like tanks” because they were kept in service for decades. Now, with different materials available, we are changing our mindset,” says Dale Spencer, UPS Director-Automotive Engineering.