UPS is buying 150 plastic-bodied delivery trucks by the end of 2012, after completing a year of testing.
The company said on Friday that the CV-23 trucks from suppliers Utilimaster and Isuzu achieved a 40% increase in fuel efficiency because of their lightweight composite bodies.
UPS had been testing five vehicles from April last year to April this year in the US states of Nebraska, New York State, Arizona, Michigan and Georgia.
The trucks had a slightly smaller payload than the conventional P70 truck – 630 cubic feet compared to 700 in the traditional aluminium-bodied UPS diesel package car – but is about 900 lbs (409 kg) lighter.
Its lighter weight means it can use a smaller engine – a 150bhp four-cylinder Isuzu unit, which uses less fuel during daily operations than a traditional UPS diesel power unit.
The company said the tests had shown the vehicles had high reliability in all conditions, from the back roads of Nebraska and the deserts of Arizona to the tough New York winters.
The UPS testing found that composite body trucks were easy to repair and durable, as well as saving on fuel
UPS also noted the ease of repairs and durability in the vehicles’ favour – since the composite is brown when it is cast, it does not require painting when scratched.
It said that as part of its efforts to grow its alternative vehicle fleet, and cut its environmental impacts, the 150 CV-23 vehicles now ordered should arrive in the fourth quarter of 2012, mainly in the Western United States region.
“As a result of the testing, UPS has become even more comfortable with composite material and will consider adding more composite components into larger vehicle types to reduce vehicle weight,” the company said.
UPS currently has more than 2,200 alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet, including all-electric vehicles, natural gas-powered vehicles, propane-powered trucks and hybrid vehicles.