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PHOTO CAPTION: Electric La Post mail vehicle; some will get hydrogen fuel cell range extenders.

French Postal Service to Test Fuel Cell Range Extenders

La Poste will equip a number of its Renault Kangoo-based electric delivery vans with hydrogen fuel cell range extenders for better rural operations.

Published: 11-Dec-2013

The French national postal service La Poste has been operating a fleet of all-electric delivery vans for at least the last half decade. Such EVs are ideally suited for quiet, clean operation in cities, but less so across its sprawling, often quite rugged rural countryside approximately the size of the state of Texas.

To make the use of the Renault Kangoo-based electric vehicles more adaptable to the rest of the country, the service is partnering with UTBM to test Symbio FCell fuel cell range extender kits on working postal vehicles on routes of more than 100 km (62 mi) in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France along the Swiss border.

In addition to doubling the range of the electric vans, the heat from the Symio FCell stack will be used to provide cabin heat and windshield defrosting, removing a significant electrical load off the batteries in cold weather.

According to Jean-François Courtoy, the Industrial Director at La Poste in Franche Comté, improving vehicle range and driver comfort means the service can replace its diesel vans.

"This will significantly improve our level of global CO2 emissions," he states.

Fabio Ferrari, the CEO at Symbio FCell noted, "As of today, we can demonstrate that with long range electrical solutions, a viable business model exists for zero emission city center delivery."

The first vans equipped with the hydrogen fuel cell range extender kits will be deployed in Q1 2014.

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