'Green for Free' Financing Program from FCCC, Enova Will Make Electric Vans Easier to Buy

November 16, 2011

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A "Green for Free" program from FCCC and Enova Systems allows fleets to purchase electric-drive walk-in vans for the cost of diesel-powered versions, then pay the electric's extra cost with savings in fuel and maintenance.
FCCC and Enova introduced their E-Cell electric van last year at the Hybrid Truck Users Forum meeting in Dearborn, Mich. (Photo by Tom Berg)
FCCC and Enova introduced their E-Cell electric van last year at the Hybrid Truck Users Forum meeting in Dearborn, Mich. (Photo by Tom Berg)
Special financing arrangements will make it possible, company executives said during a call-in press conference late yesterday.

"This program is more viable than one involving government subsidies, which eventually dry up," said Jonathon Randall, marketing manager for Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.

The "green" electric part of the truck is "free" because customers will make lease payments with money they'd otherwise spend on fuel and maintenance for a gasoline- or diesel-powered truck, he said. When the electric van's incremental cost is paid off, customers will keep 100% of those savings.

Customers can arrange to pay for the basic chassis any way they choose, and can finance the electric portion through leasing, standard financing, or a combination, Randall said.

The Green for Free program will use FCCC's All-Electric Walk-in Van chassis powered by a Enova drive system, which was announced last year as the E-Cell. Fleets with predictable routes in pickup and delivery applications are ideal for the program because they return each night to a company depot for recharging of batteries.

Vans will be designed and built for specific applications and financing will be structured for the anticipated savings that should accrue over time, Randall said. Most fleets run their walk-in vans for 10 years or longer, and terms of Green for Free financing will end before then, Randall and others said.

Components of electric-drive trucks are almost maintenance-free and use no fuel. They're green because they emit no pollutants, something that Clean Air authorities appreciate.

Leasing the vehicles' electric part makes them more affordable and fleets can buy more electric vans than they otherwise could, said Bob Harbin, FCCC president.

The vans' batteries will be sized so 80% of their charge is consumed in a day's operation instead of for extended ranges, which would require larger battery packs. Batteries will probably be lithium-ion types, but the supplier is not yet chosen.

FCCC has a dominant share of the market and can provide immediate volume, which is required to reduce the cost of components like batteries. FCCC and Enova plan to deploy 3,000 alternative-fuel vehicles within a two-year time frame beginning no later than the third quarter 2012 as a result of the Green for Free program, Harbin said.

Enova and FCCC developed an integration method for both new and retrofit applications. FCCC's all-electric chassis is based on the MT-45 model with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 to 19,500 pounds.

"This business model has the potential to stimulate tremendous and rapid growth, helping achieve economies of scale through cost reduction, resulting in an excellent value proposition for the commercial fleet operator," said Mike Staran, Enova president and CEO.

"Enova has been delivering proven electric drive systems to a diverse set of domestic and international customers, and has the distinction of seeing more of its green drive systems on the road than any of its competitors. The company continues to build on more than 20 years of innovation and traces its roots back to General Motors' EV1 electric car."

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