Electric vehicles deliver the goods

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Renault Trucks and EDF are collaborating to develop the use of electric lorries and commercial vehicles for transportation of goods in urban areas, according to a co-operation agreement signed by the companies.

The vehicle manufacturer and energy giant will test the best methods for electrically transporting goods locally and study the performance of lithium-ion batteries in this type of application. Their collaboration will centre initially on the Maxity Electric, a light-duty vehicle with a payload of two tonnes. The partners are leaving open the possibility of future collaboration on other vehicles in the Renault Trucks range.

Renault Trucks is developing electric technology as an alternative solution to the use of the combustion engine, particularly for vehicles in the delivery and distribution ranges. Their first attempt, the Maxity Electric — an electric version of its light-duty vehicle, the Maxity — will be tested and evaluated while in use by customers of Renault Trucks.

The manufacturer describes the Maxity Electric as a quiet, zero-emissions emitting vehicle that can be driven with a category B driving licence at a top speed of 90km/h. Optimisations performed on its electric engine and regenerative braking to recharge the batteries have helped the vehicle reach a range of approximately 100km.

Renault Trucks and EDF are working together to further optimise energy storage systems such as batteries and super-condensers and charging systems. The partners will also study economic models for marketing the electric vehicle to companies, institutions and local authorities for urban and suburban transport.

The Maxity Electric was developed by Renault Trucks in collaboration with electric commercial vehicle manufacturer PVI. Renault Trucks stated that between 10 and 30 pre-series Maxity Electric vehicles are set to be put on the road with pilot customers in France in 2010, and the vehicle is scheduled to be on the market by 2011.

Separately, Chrysler Group has announced plans to engineer and produce a pure electric vehicle using the Fiat 500.

According to Chrysler, the Fiat 500EV powertrain is comprised of three main systems — high-power electric powertrain module, advance lithium-ion battery, and an EV control unit — to manage power flows.

Beginning in 2012, Chrysler Group will manufacture the Fiat 500EV for the US market. All powertrain engineering and vehicle development will take place at Chrysler Group headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Pricing will be announced closer to launch but is expected to be competitive with similar electric vehicles in the market.