Electric cars might be the future, but for some uses, like the demands of a delivery truck, they just don't have the power or range quite yet. But that doesn't mean giving up and using inefficient materials and construction while waiting for the electric revolution to come. UPS is testing out prototype plastic trucks that reduce the usual truck weight by 1,000 pounds, increase the mileage by up to 40%, and are even more easily serviced.
The trucks are constructed from ABS plastic, a lightweight and rugged material that reduces the weight of these vehicles by around 1,000 pounds, compared to the usual sheet metal. Trucks of this size typically weigh around five tons, depending on the packages being delivered. The plastic body has a few other benefits as well. Painted sheet metal is both heavy (the paint alone can weigh about 100 pounds!) and fragile--a slight dent or nick makes the metal beneath the paint visible, at which point UPS has to service the truck to keep it looking fresh. But this plastic is brown all the way through, so it can suffer dents without looking mangled.
There are a few other thoughtful elements to the new design, like switching all lights (besides headlights, for some reason) to more efficient LEDs, and a nearly modular design that allows for various parts (bumpers, side panels) to be replaced easily, quickly, and cheaply. Those adjustments make the new truck efficient enough that the typical 200-hp engine could be replaced with a sprightly 150-hp engine without losing power.
The important thing here is that this prototype is actually cost-effective, right now. It's not as exciting an advancement as, say, a fleet of hydrogen-powered trucks or cars made of hemp, but unlike a fleet of hydrogen-powered trucks, there's a legitimate chance of immediate adoption. The prototypes are undergoing testing this year, and provided they're found road-worthy, could start hitting the road in 2012.
[via Fast Company]
Thanks UPS. Good idea - let's hope your business expense cutting measures work and are adopted industry wide. Meanwhile at the USPS...
Going from 11 MPG to 15 is a huge improvement but still... They should really talk with tesla.
Also WTF popsci why do you keep blocking my accounts, this is not the just the buggy spam filters, someone is actively going in and blocking me. This is my third account, I tried emailing you about it last time but you just ignore me. (-_-)
I am pretty sure what is triggering your rage, the first time I was banned after complaining about clay dallow not understanding the difference between power and energy and the second time I was complaining about the spam filter but seriously a warning or at least a note acknowledging that you banned me and why would have been nice.
When I am supreme dictator of earth one of my first changes will be to take away your ban hammer privileges (^_^)
Even though you keep banning me I still love you popsci
@WhyRYouBlocking the SAME thing is happening to me. I have been a user for nearly 1 year, and now I am getting blocked! even if I just type ONE letter my message is blocked because it contains a URL!!!!! huh?? I also emailed the webmaster and have not heard back from him. It seems I can only post 1 time in a 24 hour period. So I guess this is my 1 message today! AWESOME!!! glad I got help initiate a good scientific discussion. I can MAYBE understand 1 message PER article, but 1 per day! hope its a just a bug. It took them MONTHS and MONTHS to add the new spam filter. I think the webmaster and\moderator on checks this site once a month or something.
If you reported a spam message it would often takes weeks IF EVER to get removed.
YES!! Way to go, UPS!!
google ultima gtr
pretty amazing that a plastic $100,000 car is a better performer than multimillion dollar exotics.
plastic cars should be everywhere
I'm surprised the manufacturer of the truck wasn't mentioned in this article. This is a new 2012 Isuzu Reach, and will be available later this year to anyone who wants to buy one, not just UPS. Just FYI... www.isuzucv.com to check it out...
Maybe now they can afford to actually train their employees to not leave my packages outside in the rain.
This is really a good step towards conserving energy. But why not use disposable light weight materials for all sort of vehicles which would drastically reduce the casaulty as well.
Why they don't use more plastic in all car bodies is beyond me. The doors at the very least should contain no metal except wires and the locks. They have nothing to do with the structural integrity of the car.
That said, a lot of metal is necessary in vehicle construction simply to save lives. In the front or back of a vehicle, the metal that bends and crumples on impact is absorbing more slowly the energy that would otherwise be exerted almost instantly on your body. But, if the vehicle is designed such that the internal metal components are sufficient to absorb that energy, then sure, let's use plastic for the entire outer body. Shave off a few hundred pounds and save both fuel and assembly costs, as plastic is considerably cheaper to form than metal. Then you can cut down on the metal frame because the car itself is lighter and therefore exerts less force on things, saving even more fuel.
Here's hoping more auto manufacturers take the hint.
@inaka_rob...the spam filter has become quite annoying but then again so are most of your posts, deleting you does not bother me, i'm sure you disagree with me