It's been almost a century since electric trucks were a common sight on city streets, but they may be poised for a comeback. There's increased interest among manufacturers in electric commercial vehicles for use as what were once called "delivery wagons" and at port terminals.
Navistar, the Warrenville, Ill.-based truck and bus maker, rolled out an electric delivery truck for members of Congress today, announcing plans to build 400 of the vehicles next year (read the story here, get the press release here).
Smith Electric Vehicles, a subsidiary of Britain's Tanfield Group, introduced its Smith Newton electric truck in the U.S. this summer, also rolling the medium-duty truck out on Capitol Hill.
A reader just pointed me to Balqon, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based company that produces electric terminal tractors for ports and rail yards and plans to introduce an all-electric medium-duty truck this fall.
Consumers so far are wary of electric vehicles, which come with hefty price tags as well as new technology (the Chevrolet Volt is expected to cost more than $30,000), but commercial fleets operating in urban areas may be more willing to buy electric trucks, Brent Snavely reports in the Detroit Free Press.
Of course, consumers are already paying for electric cars and trucks. There's a fair amount of taxpayer money — $2.4 billion — being directed toward research and development for electric powertrains and vehicles under the Obama administration's stimulus program.
Navistar received a $39 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build its electric truck. Exide Technologies received $34 million for research into new batteries that could power micro-hybrid and hybrid commercial vehicles.
This is old hat for Exide, as this advertisement from 1921 shows: