Orange EV, an electric-truck startup company in search of customers, has found what could be the perfect partner, Kalmar Ottawa.
Orange EV, headquartered in Riverside, has focused on retrofitting its electric motors into terminal tractors, which pull loads of freight around such places as railroad yards and distribution centers.
And now it has a deal to work with Kalmar Ottawa, an Ottawa, Kan., manufacturer known as the inventor of the terminal tractor in 1958 and its chief seller. Kalmar’s dealer network for terminal tractors has 171 locations in North America.
The companies, in a joint release, said a Kalmar T-Series terminal tractor retrofitted by Orange EV “is the first and only one to match the power and reliability for which Kalmar Ottawa is known.”
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The financial terms of the collaboration were not released. But Wayne Mathisen, CEO and co-founder of Orange EV, said in the release, “The opportunity to work with industry leader Kalmar Ottawa will enable Orange EV to accelerate adoption of electric terminal tractors.”
The companies said they had interest in the vehicles and oral commitments but were awaiting their first firm orders. Orders will be filled with retrofitted vehicles for now, but the companies said made-new electric terminals tractors would be possible in the future if the demand materialized.
Orange EV and Kalmar are taking their show on the road, too. Their zero-emission terminal tractor, an Orange-equipped version of Kalmar’s 2014 T2 model, will be demonstrated in April in Illinois and eventually make its way to Southern California. The stopping points are no accident. The Port of Los Angeles complex uses thousands of terminal tractors, and a program called Drive Clean Chicago offers incentives to buy alternate-fuel vehicles.
The companies said the Orange EV-equipped terminal tractor is the only one eligible under Drive Clean Chicago, whose incentives save buyers $150,000 per vehicle.
Building a market is the big challenge for electric vehicles because of their upfront costs. But Orange EV estimates that lower fuel and maintenance costs in heavy-duty, high-use situations mean an electric terminal tractor can pay off for a buyer in just a year or two, and right away when there are sufficient incentives. And with incentives such as Drive Clean Chicago’s, an electric terminal tractor can cost less than a diesel version. There’s also the bonus of no emissions.
Mathisen, who had been a manager at Sprint, Embarq and CenturyLink in jobs ranging from financial management to leading a team that oversaw a fleet of 10,000 vehicles, became a founder of Orange after seeing its plans.
Another founder, Kurt Neutgens, had worked 17 years at Ford, including time as its engineering manager for the best-selling F-150 pickup. He took a buyout from Ford in 2006 to pursue his dream of developing an electric vehicle.
An Orange vehicle had already passed muster in tests at the BNSF intermodal freight facility in Gardner, where it pulled 80,000-pound loads with enough power for 10 or more house of work without a recharge.
And now it has Kalmar Ottawa’s endorsement.
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