Navistar Inc. announced May 13 during a Web conference with the U.S. Department of Energy and FedEx that it will deliver to FedEx the first full-production eStar all-electric commercial truck.

FedEx showcased a prototype of the eStar electric truck during last month's "Charge Up Route 66" tour that began in Chicago and ended in Los Angeles as part of the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference. FedEx will evaluate the performance of the eStar vehicle in its fleet as it operates in the Los Angeles area.

"FedEx is continually looking to connect the world more responsibly," said Mitch Jackson, vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability at FedEx. "Navistar's purpose-built electric truck has the potential to assist in making our business more environmentally sustainable and reduce dependence on foreign oil, while ensuring FedEx the reliability necessary to meet our commitment for superior customer service."

The eStar all-electric truck is the first medium-duty commercial vehicle to receive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certification as a clean fuel fleet vehicle as well as California Air Resources Board certification as a zero emissions vehicle.

This Class 2c-3 electric truck - the first in its category - has a range of 100 miles per charge and can be fully recharged within 6-8 hours.

"For businesses, municipalities and other organizations that demonstrate their environmental commitment, the eStar provides them with a smart option," said Shane Terblanche, Navistar's general manager of electric vehicles.  

Unlike other electric trucks that are reconfigured models of fossil-fuel trucks, the eStar truck has been purpose-built for electric power, creating an advantage with a low center of gravity (the battery is between the frame rails, not mounted on top) and a 36-foot turning radius. The eStar is engineered with superior aerodynamics, a walk-through cab and a quick-change cassette-type battery that can be swapped out in 20 minutes, enabling around the clock operation. It is capable of carrying payloads up to two tons.

With zero tailpipe emissions, each eStar truck can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 10 tons annually. Drivers will be able to experience the ultimate in ergonomic design as the windshield provides nearly 180-degree visibility, the low-floor design provides easy loading/unloading and the noise level is nearly non-existent, which makes this nimble vehicle ideal for urban areas facing noise challenges. 

Navistar is currently taking orders for the eStar and intends to deliver 400 units by the end of 2010.