DaimlerChrysler's EPIC Electric Minivans to Shuttle Passengers at Busy Los Angeles World Airport



Update: January 5, 2000

Auburn Hills/Stuttgart - Hundreds of thousands of air travelers will be experiencing electric vehicle technology in traveling to and from Los Angeles World Airport as the first 10 DaimlerChrysler Electric Powered Interurban Commuter (EPIC) minivans join the fleet of Xpress Shuttle.

The five-passenger minivans, which represent DaimlerChrysler's state-of-the-art electric vehicle presence in California, are being added to the shuttle company's fleet, each expected to log up to 100,000 miles of service per year, an unprecedented workout for an electric vehicle. The breakthrough comes thanks to EPIC's unique fast-charging capabilities that allow the minivans to quickly refuel with electricity and return to the road.

Eventually, up to 50 EPICs could be in service at Xpress Shuttle, California's second largest shuttle service and one of only three with contracts to serve Los Angeles World Airport. Shuttle and taxi services operating out of the airport are bound by contract to include vehicles powered by alternative fuels, as California continues to address its air and noise pollution concerns.

"This project continues DaimlerChrysler's commitment to work with the State of California in addressing their unique air quality problems. With the Xpress Shuttle program, hundreds of thousands of Californians will experience electric vehicle technology, and DaimlerChrysler will gain
valuable knowledge about the vehicles' performance over hundreds of thousands of miles of real-world travel," said Susan M. Cischke, Senior Vice President - Regulatory Affairs and Passenger Car Operations.

Passengers won't be able to distinguish the sparkling EPIC minivans from their gasoline-powered Dodge Caravan counterparts because the batteries are installed in an aluminum tub under the vehicle. The electric power port for recharging is located right where one would expect to find a gas cap.

However, it's what EPIC doesn't have that sets it apart from other minivans: No internal-combustion engine means no harmful pollutants released into the air -- and far less noise.

"Xpress Shuttle will be able to move a lot of people for zero emissions," said James C. Cerano, DaimlerChrysler's Engineering Program Manager for the EPIC.

Commuters won't have to trade creature comforts for environmental friendliness, either.  EPICs can go up to 80 miles per hour and are equipped with air bags, antilock brakes, air-conditioning and power door locks. . "With the EPIC, we're trying to give our electric customers the
same conveniences they would find in a gas-powered vehicle," said Cerano.

The EPIC can carry a payload of 925 pounds - about five passengers and 175 pounds of cargo. The current model is powered by 28, 12-volt advanced nickel-metal-hydride batteries that deliver up to 80-90 miles per charge. In addition, the batteries can be fast-charged in about 30 minutes, a
feature that can keep them on the road as many as 16 hours a day.

This fast-charge capability is unique to DaimlerChrysler, said C. Fred Roberts, DaimlerChrysler Senior Manager - Vehicle Development Team EPIC. "Without it, these vehicles could not be used as shuttles."

AeroVironment Inc. of Monrovia, Calif., is providing the EPIC fast-chargers for this project. Where a traditional charger delivers six-to-seven kilowatts and recharges an electric vehicle in five-to-seven hours, the EPIC fast-charger operates at much higher power (60-150 kilowatts) and has the minivan back at close to full charge within a half-hour.

"The people at DaimlerChrysler should be patting themselves on the back - they have produced a very nice-performing vehicle, and the only vehicle that could fit this application," said Sam Smith, president of Sentry Hill Management Group in Los Angeles, which is coordinating the EPIC minivan
project at the airport.

Besides DaimlerChrysler, Xpress Shuttle and the Los Angeles World Airport, the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are participants.

DaimlerChrysler is leasing the EPIC minivans to Xpress Shuttle on a zero-down lease for $450 each per month.

Xpress Shuttle conducted an extensive training program for drivers and for dispatchers, who rely on computers and high-tech Global Positioning Satellites to track each vehicle at all times - right down to how fast they're going.

That state-of-the-art tracking system is instrumental in ensuring that the EPICs are used effectively and efficiently, and will give engineers valuable data as they study even newer technologies. Based on preliminary calculations, EPICs will carry more than 500,000 commuters per year, more
than any other program of its kind.

"We'll be exposing a lot of people to this new technology," said Mike Clement, Director of Alternative Fuel Vehicle Sales and Marketing for DaimlerChrysler, "people who until now have associated electric vehicles with golf carts. They're in for a pleasant surprise."

Media Contact:
Max Gates 703/578-1353
Marianne Muerau 49 711 17 93039

Business Contact: Sam Smith
Sentry Hill Management Group
(310) 420-1645
SamSSHMG@aol.com

Visit their Web Site at
http://www.daimlerchrysler.com/presse/foto.htm
for additional news.

Xpress Shuttle Service at Los Angeles World Airport To Add DaimlerChrysler Electric Minivans to Fleet


This press conference held on the Los Angeles World Airport (LAX) shared ride shuttle lot 1:00 PM, Wednesday, January 5, 2000 announced the addition of DaimlerChrysler’s EPIC electric minivan to the fleet of Xpress Shuttle. The media was invited to a lunch and reception at Wyndham Hotel before the event.

Invited speakers included:

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan
Councilmember Ruth Galanter
Lydia Kinnard, Executive Director, Los Angeles World Airport
S. David Freeman, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Mike Clement, Director Alternative Fuel Vehicle Sales and Marketing, DaimlerChrysler Corporation
Roger Moradi, General Manager, Xpress Shuttle

Text of the release:

Xpress Shuttle will launch its Electric Xpress program, introducing DaimlerChrysler’s advanced Electric Powered Interurban Commuter (EPIC) minivan into commercial shared ride shuttle service between Los Angeles World Airport and various downtown destinations. The Electric Xpress program will be the largest commercial electric transportation project attempted in terms of passenger miles.

The Electric Xpress program will use the advanced technology EPIC in conjunction with rapid charging capabilities, pioneered by DaimlerChrysler, which add up to 40 miles of range in a 20-minute charge. With fast charge technology, EPIC minivans can achieve 300-plus miles in a single day of operation, addressing two key issues that have challenged electric vehicles: daily range and time to recharge.

Initially, 11 EPICs will be introduced into service at Xpress Shuttle. Nine more are planned to be added in 2000, with a potential for up to 50 total EPIC minivans. Like all programs we feel ours is unique. What this program does address is two key issues that have been barriers for the applications of EV's in large quantities: daily range and time to charge. As witnessed in Atlanta the EPIC is capable of more than 350 miles a day using rapid charging. We can put 2 miles of range back into the vehicle for each minute on the rapid charger. We feel this capability overcomes several issues that have been raised by fleet operators.