Portland plugs in eStar

Portland, OR. Navistar, Inc. yesterday announced that Portland, OR will be the initial launch market for the company’s new eStar all-electric truck. The new Class 2-3 eStar is produced through the Navistar-Modec EV Alliance, LLC, a joint venture between Navistar, Inc. and Modec Limited of the UK. It has a top speed of about 50 mph and an operating range of 100 miles per charge, making it a good fit for many urban applications, such as product or parcel deliveries and various service applications.

Portland, OR: Navistar, Inc. yesterday announced that Portland, OR will be the initial launch market for the company’s new eStar all-electric truck. The new Class 2-3 eStar is produced through the Navistar-Modec EV Alliance, LLC, a joint venture between Navistar, Inc. and Modec Limited of the UK. It has a top speed of about 50 mph and an operating range of 100 miles per charge, making it a good fit for many urban applications, such as product or parcel deliveries and various service applications.

The announcement was made at a the city’s landmark Convention Center with Portland Mayor, Sam Adams, the chair of Oregon’s Transportation Commission, Gail Achterman and other officials and local media in attendance.

Jim Hebe, sr. vp, North American sales operations for Navistar told the audience, “We’re excited to debut the eStar in Portland and give local media and government officials an up-close look at one of the coolest, most environmentally friendly commercial trucks on the road today. As one of the most sustainable cities in the nation, a city like Portland can appreciate the amazing potential of the eStar all-electric truck when it comes to clean, energy-efficient transportation.

“Along with the advancements we’ve made in aerodynamics and fuel efficiency for heavy trucks, our comprehensive line-up of hybrid trucks and school buses, and now with the addition of the eStar all-electric truck, Navistar has the largest portfolio of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly trucks in the industry,” he said.

“It is exciting to be here today,” said Achterman. “We are thrilled, really thrilled that Navistar has selected our city and state to introduce the eStar. It is a very important milestone in our efforts to migrate to electric vehicles.” The state has an alternative fuel vehicle tax credit incentive of up to 35% of the purchase differential for which the eStar qualifies. The current Federal income tax credit is also applies to eStar purchases, and there are support funds available for installing charging stations.

“We depend upon the movement of freight here and we have a freight movement master plan.” said Portland mayor Sam Adams. “I look forward to being a purchaser [of the new eStar] on behalf of the people of Portland.”

The city will be deploying 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations in publically accessible places, Adams said, adding that the city has “fast-tracked” the permitting process.

To underscore the eStar’s zero emissions performance, test drives of the new truck were done inside the Convention Center. Drivers twisted through a tight course of orange cones set up in a ballroom designed to showcase the vehicle’s maneuverability and 180-degree visibility instead of out on the city’s rainy streets.

The eStar has a GVWR of 12,100 lbs, with a payload capacity of 4,000 lbs. The front axle is rated at 5,730 lbs with a rear axle rating of 7,053 lbs. Steering is electro-hydraulic power assisted, providing a turning circle of 36 feet.

There is no engine and no transmission, so the eStar has no tailpipe emissions, or tailpipe for that matter. It features a low floor; low center of gravity thanks to the below-frame rail mounted battery system; and a huge windshield, which provides enhanced visibility supported by a back-up camera and unique mirror systems for side and front-of-bumper views.

It comes standard with anti-lock brakes and a regenerative braking system to help charge the battery through the onboard charger during operation. Full recharging through a Level 2 recharging system can be completed in approximately 8 hours, or the batteries can be traded out in less than 20 minutes. As new battery technologies become available, the truck is designed to easily accommodate changes to other batteries or energy storage options, making it what the company calls “future-proof.” The vehicle itself is also almost entirely recyclable when its work life is finished.

Some changes and enhancements to the truck are scheduled for 2011, including the transition to the SAE J1772 EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) charger connector system, and the addition of air conditioning. Trucks delivered in 2010 will be retrofit to include these and other enhancements, according to Navistar.

U.S. production of the eStar is underway and the company expects to ramp up to full production by August, while also outsourcing more parts to suppliers, such as A123 systems, the new Michigan supplier for the eStar’s 80k Whr Li-ion battery.

The eStar all-electric truck transitioned from concept to reality in August 2009, when President Barack Obama visited Navistar’s manufacturing plant in Indiana to announce a $39.2 million federal stimulus grant to build electric trucks. Less than one year later, Navistar has completed testing and validation, developed and delivered prototype vehicles, and received EPA and CARB certifications. The eStar meets all Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Navistar is now taking orders and building these all-electric trucks.

Navistar also announced its eStar dealer for the Pacific Northwest market—Cascadia International Trucks of Tacoma, WA, which has served the area’s commercial truck users for over 50 years.

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