When Ryder System announced it would become the exclusive sales channel partner and service provider for Chanje, a new California-based medium-duty electric vehicle manufacturer, the message it sent was loud and clear.
“Electric vehicle technology is advancing rapidly,” says Ryder Chief Technology and Procurement Officer Scott Perry. “The number of configurations is expanding, along with improvements in battery density and energy storage. The infrastructure to support these vehicles can be relied on more readily. Directionally, the cost of electricity on a per-unit basis is competitive with traditional vehicles in some medium-duty markets.”
Introducing Chanje electric vehicles into its lease and rental portfolios makes sense for certain applications and duty-cycles, Perry notes. For example, final mile delivery operations were top-of-mind.
“The Chanje vehicle fills a very specific role in the delivery van segment,” Perry continues. “In pick-up-and-delivery operations or in municipal fleets where vehicles return to base every night, this truck makes a lot of sense. It fits a range of demands and duty-cycles, especially in short haul regional operations and in larger cities.
“Designed as a fully integrated product, not as a retrofitted or converted diesel or gas vehicle, the Chanje truck is inherently efficient,” Perry adds. “That works well in highly populated urban areas where pollution and noise are mounting concerns.”
Ryder’s initial order of Chanje vehicles will first be distributed to locations in strategic U.S. markets starting this fall. Some leading markets for the all-electric trucks include large metropolitan areas in California and New York that have high population densities.
Over time, the company is planning to bring the vehicles to customers in as many as 30 markets it has identified as places where demand for the technology is likely to expand. The new vehicles will also be added to Ryder’s commercial rental fleet, so customers will have the opportunity to experience Chanje’s technology on a short-term basis.
At the same time, Ryder is working with Chanje to develop a charging infrastructure for the vehicles, with a focus on using renewable energy. For the launch product, a long-term overnight charge is required, but in the works is a fast charge solution that would take about 45 minutes to complete.
Based on the size of the customer’s operation and its location, the companies are planning to offer tailored solutions to help meet fleet needs. “When the time is right, customer demand and charging infrastructure will determine availability of the Chanje trucks,” Perry says. “We also want to be sure that our customers’ experience is complemented by an effective service network.”
Ryder’s plans for the all-electric medium-duty trucks include offering preventive maintenance solutions as part of its SelectCare fleet maintenance portfolio. “We have comprehensive parts availability and training plans mapped out for each market we intend to service with these vehicles,” Perry says. “We’ve been working on that for a while, and have already developed technical training, including protocols and safeguards involving how to interact safely with the vehicle’s energy management system.”
The Chanje vehicle is a battery powered, all-electric medium-duty delivery van equipped to haul up to 6,000 lbs. or 580 cu. ft. of cargo. The truck’s design places the entire drivetrain package in the rear axle assembly. The compact unit with the motor sitting close to the wheels eliminates the need for driveshafts and rear differentials, and other components.
“In all the markets we serve,” Perry says, “our customers are constantly looking to us for new technologies and solutions so they can differentiate their delivery operations and gain a competitive advantage.
“The Chanje vehicle fits the growing demand for a high-efficiency solution in the medium-duty market,” he adds. “Our involvement with Chanje and other developers and manufacturers helps assure our customers that they aren’t adopting new vehicle technologies that won’t fit or work well in their operations.