Blog: FedEx Rolls Out 15 GSE Cargo Tuggers Powered by GenDrive and GenFuel

Plug Power’s GenDrive and GenFuel solutions have revolutionized the material handling industry – and it’s no wonder, as they provide tremendous value to users by increasing fleet uptime and productivity. With smart and strategic expansion in mind, Plug Power has developed product for ground support equipment (GSE), starting with the airport baggage tuggers used by FedEx at its Memphis International Airport transport hub.

On April 9, 2015 Plug Power participated, alongside the US Department of Energy (DOE), Charlatte and FedEx, in a press event held at the Memphis airport terminal to demonstrate the value and viability of Plug Power’s hydrogen fuel cell solutions.

The event showcased GenDrive-powered ground support vehicles and the GenFuel infrastructure that have been rolled out by FedEx at the site.FedEx1

What Attendees Heard

Distinguished guests in attendance were witness to remarks provided by:

  • Andy Marsh, CEO, Plug Power “We’re proud to be working with FedEx – a partner who’s willing to invest in improving their business. FedEx is a company that really understands how to move goods, and is willing to teach a company like Plug Power how to refine and make a better product, because it’s critical to the industry’s long-term success. I’m hope to come back someday and seeing all 1400 GSE in Memphis units converted to Plug Power fuel cells!”
  • Steve Cohen, US Congressman for Tennessee, 9th District “Whether helping secure the $15 million TIGER grant that is funding the Main2Main project or promoting forward-looking clean energy programs, I have long worked to make Memphis a more sustainable and innovative community. I am pleased that FedEx and Fred Smith share these goals, not just with their cutting edge air cargo and distribution efforts, but with environmentally advanced projects like these that improve our environment by reducing carbon footprints while bolstering our economy. I was proud to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provided the start-up funds for the fuel cell industry and other forward-looking technologies.”
  • Mitch Jackson, Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, FedEx Corp. “We believe that we can decrease our environmental footprint while simultaneously expanding our business – and the data backs that up. This year, we continued to reduce our emissions even as our revenue and the number of items we deliver have gone up.”
  • John Dunavant, Vice President of the FedEx Express World Hub in Memphis, TN – “While these hydrogen fuel cell powered cargo tractors may not look big, they are capable of pulling 40,000 lbs. of cargo on airport dollies in even the harshest weather conditions; and they embody our strong commitments to innovation and to reducing our environmental footprint.”
  • Reuben Sarkar, DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary


What Attendees Experienced

Event attendees were able to drive the fuel cell-powered GSE, as well as observe a refueling at a GenFuel dispenser.

FedEx3Attendees also learned that hydrogen fuel cell-powered ground support equipment is highly rugged, capable of pulling 40,000 lbs. of cargo on airport dollies in even the harshest weather conditions. The units are fueled by hydrogen, dispensed directly into the fuel cell systems by the truck driver from a 15,000 gallon liquid hydrogen fueling infrastructure installed by Plug Power on the airport ramp.

The cargo tuggers, manufactured by CharlatteAmerica, have been fitted with specially-designed Plug Power GenDrive units. Powering these vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells provides significant value to FedEx in its airport-based ground support equipment application.

Benefits include:

  • Economic Payback Based on Fuel Savings: Hydrogen fuel cells are at least twice as efficient as the diesel engines that are commonly used to power GSE fleets.FedEx4
  • Zero Emissions: Fuel cells eliminate noxious diesel fumes and noise. Fuel cells produce only heat and water as by-products.
  • Cost Efficiency: Fuel cells are a better option than lead-acid batteries for replacing diesel, because fuel cells are a low-cost alternative. It would cost tens of millions of dollars to electrify an airport with an electrical infrastructure and battery chargers.
  • Safety: With implementation of fuel cells, FedEx operations also eliminate the safety concerns that would accompany the storage and handling of lead-acid batteries.

Hydrogen fuel cells have an important place in the energy independence FedEx5of our country, and this event in Memphis helped demonstrate their commercial viability to an influential audience of decision makers. The continued support of hydrogen fuel cells and policies by regional legislators, national organizations and members of the international business community is not only critical, but much appreciated as well. And, Plug Power remains at the forefront of this activity.