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Clean Vehicles

Electric Last Mile Solutions and Notre Dame Team Up For All-Electric Refrigerated Van

Steven Van Elk

Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS), a Michigan-based electric vehicle manufacturer, is changing the way delivery vans run by launching a new electric refrigerated delivery van that is among the first of its kind in the United States. This fully-electric light-duty van is designed specifically for commercial fleets, in particular for deliveries and contractors. ELMS is partnering with the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, to pilot an all-electric delivery van program called Urban Delivery on campus.

Urban Delivery ties into Notre Dame’s long-term sustainability and efficiency goals by reducing emissions, cost, and fossil fuel use. The ELMS van will be the first class 1 commercial electric vehicle available in America. With a range of 150 miles on one charge, it is a perfect fit for the average 70-80 miles driven per vehicle per day for most delivery and contract operations. Notre Dame will help ELMS gather performance data throughout the trial run.

“Partnering with ELMS on this pilot program represents a terrific opportunity to explore how Notre Dame can accelerate its sustainability goals while driving operational efficiency and supporting local manufacturing,” said Carol Mullaney, Notre Dame’s Senior Director of Sustainability and Logistics.

“We look forward to…setting an example for how higher education can move the needle on sustainability through fleet electrification.”

It’s also likely to set a trend for a swift ramp-up of electric vehicles in commercial use. Since commercial drivers aren’t concerned about charging up or longer drives, they can precisely manage each charge and recharge based on each day’s schedule. The growing demand for food and perishables delivery in both urban and suburban markets means this vehicle, with 171 cubic feet of cooled space designed by Thermo King, is likely to be in high demand for companies looking to reach sustainability goals and save significant money on fuel cost. The combination of Thermo King’s technology and the ELMS’ electric vehicle design allows these vehicles to easily meet emissions and noise standards. And, like electric vehicles, they require significantly less maintenance, which also decreases the cost-per-unit investment.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Notre Dame, one of the country’s leading research universities, to pilot our Urban Delivery in what we believe is a considerable yet underserved vertical in the commercial vehicle market,” said James Taylor, ELMS Chief Executive Officer. “With our intended manufacturing operations just down the road, we are excited to work with local partners like Notre Dame to put St. Joseph County on the map as a national hub for American-made, sustainable electric vehicles.

“[Notre Dame] is learning and we are learning by putting them in the hands of customers and getting that feedback back for us so we can alter our course and adapt our next generations of products,” he added. “We can expand our footprint and the sales in this particular area of universities.”

ELMS already has 45,000 pre-orders for the vehicle, which will begin production later this year.

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