DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. truck leasing and rental company Ryder Systems Inc said on Thursday it will order 125 all-electric delivery vans from Chanje, one of the first big purchases made in the still nascent electric truck industry.
Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup Chanje’s main investor is FDG Electric Vehicles Ltd, which sells the same delivery van in China under the brand name Changjiang.
Ryder announced in August it would become the exclusive U.S. sales and lease partner for Chanje, pronounced “change.”
The market for electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which are still limited in the distance they can travel before recharging, is in its infancy.
Vehicle manufacturers such as Daimler AG and Navistar International Corp, as well as Tesla Inc and a host of other new entrants, are racing to overcome the challenges of substituting batteries for diesel engines as regulators crack down on carbon dioxide and soot pollution.
Daimler said last month that United Parcel Service Inc will be the first U.S. commercial customer for its new battery-powered eCanter truck, and the company will expand its electric truck production as lower cost, longer-range batteries become available within two to three years.
As delivery vans or trucks tend to run on short, predictable routes, especially in urban environments, vehicle makers see them as a prime target for electrification.
The Chanje delivery vehicle ordered by Ryder is a medium-duty truck equipped to haul up to 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg) and up to 580 cubic feet (16 cubic meters) of cargo, with zero tailpipe emissions and a range of 100 miles (161 km).
Chanje Chief Executive Officer Bryan Hansel said FDG has spent five years and $1 billion developing the vehicle and has annual production capacity of 100,000 units from its factory in China.
Chris Nordh, Ryder’s director of advanced vehicle technology, said that by handling the charging infrastructure and servicing of leased Chanje vehicles, the Miami-based leasing firm will help acclimatize and familiarize customers with all-battery delivery trucks.
“We’re acting as a springboard for Chanje to become widespread across the U.S. very quickly,” Nordh said.
Ryder announced earlier this year it would be the strategic service partner for Cincinnati-based electric delivery vehicle and drone maker Workhorse Group Inc.
Reporting By Nick Carey, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien