ANN ARBOR, MI-In August, DaimlerChrysler unveiled the first medium-duty fuel cell vehicle for commercial use in the United States. The vehicle, a modified Dodge Sprinter van, is now in regular service as part of the United Parcel Service (UPS) fleet in Southeastern Michigan. It is the second of four fuel cell vehicles slated for regular UPS use. The first vehicle was a modified F-Cell car, a fuel-cell-powered Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan, which is still in use with the carrier.

The vehicles are part of a joint effort between DaimlerChrysler, UPS and the U. S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency intended to demonstrate and develop fuel cell vehicle technology and a hydrogen fuel infrastructure. According to DaimlerChrysler, the collaboration represents the first commercial use of a fuel cell vehicle in the United States.

"This vehicle is one of 100 fuel-cell vehicles DaimlerChrysler is currently building," says Eric Ridenour, executive vice president product development for the Chrysler Group. "Putting vehicles like this into real commercial use is vital to developing technology that has true societal and business value. These collaborations and partnerships are required to ultimately prove real-world benefits and to gain customer familiarity, in order to move closer to a hydrogen economy," Ridenour says.

The Sprinter is powered by a Ballard fuel cell. The system is housed in the floor, leaving full use of the van's cargo space. The modified Sprinter has a range of approximately 155 miles and a top speed of 80 mph. The next two Sprinters will be deployed in Los Angeles and Sacramento, CA.