Fleet managers interested in incorporating electric vans into their fleets have a new option: the eStar EV, made by Navistar. The all-electric eStar’s design looks a bit futuristic, but it boasts a 4000-lb. payload and a 100-mile range on a single change. One catch: the eStar’s odometer tops out at 50 mph, likely limiting travel to city service calls.
Actually, two catches: the eStar has a $150,000 MSRP. Incentives through the Department of Energy and tax credits can take actual cost down significantly — to $75,000 or less, according to a DOE program manager — but no question, this is a carefully considered capital purchase.
The eStar charges completely after eight hours connected to a 220v power station, meaning the van will operate for an entire shift on a single charge. The $150,000 price tag will likely scare off some managers, but Truckininfo.com’s Tom Berg writes that federal and state incentives will help offset the cost. FedEx has signed on to test several vehicles in its Los Angeles fleet, playing into the urbane Navistar eStar’s sweet spot. Berg adds:
The truck’s low operating cost compared to a diesel walk-in van should also make it attractive to fleets, especially as the cost of fuel rises. Recharging the 300-volt battery “cassette” is done overnight by plugging it into the local power grid, which will cost far less than tanking up a truck with diesel fuel.
Despite its boxy design — granting opportunistic mangers plenty of real estate to brand the exterior with decals — the eStar features a 36-foot turning radius, which Gas 2.0’s Christopher DeMorro notes is equivalent to a newer model, two-door Jeep Wrangler.
While the price, speed and range limitations might discourage managers whose techs cover large distances, the eStar could find a home in largely city-bound service organizations looking to shed their fleets’ fuel costs.