The eStar, Navistar’s all-electric Class 2 and Class 3 truck, soon will be available as a cargo van with an integrated body, according to Shane Terblanche, the company’s general manager for electric trucks. Future plans include all-electric buses and emergency vehicles.
Last year, the Department of Energy received $2.4 billion in American Recovery and Reconstruction Act funds to support the electric-drive industry and to reduce the reliance on petroleum and fossil fuels. The DOE awarded Navistar $39.2 million to develop an all-electric vehicle, as Class 2 and 3 trucks account for one-third of all trucks in the United States, according to the DOE’s Patrick Davis. Navistar introduced a prototype of an all-electric electric truck to Congressional leaders in September.
The eStar was designed and built to be all electric, “not a conversion of fossil-fuel vehicle,” Terblanche said. “With zero tailpipe emissions, each eStar saves ten tons of CO2 each year.”
The eStar’s motor has a maximum (governed) speed of 50 mph, is 102 hp and features a 220-volt split-phase electrical charging process, with a range of 100 miles on a single charge. The current configuration has a maximum 4,000 payload and includes anti-lock braking system, electronic braking distribution, and regenerative braking. The front windshield offers 180-degree visibility and a tight, 36-foot turning circle. Without an engine compartment or fuel space, the eStar offers greater cargo space.
Navistar plans to initially introduce the eStar in three geographic areas: the Pacific Northwest, the Los Angeles/Sacramento area, and Chicago/Indianapolis. The trucks will be produced in Elkhart County, Ind., with plans to deliver 400 vehicles in 2010. FedEx will be recipient of the first eStars.