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Fleets Could Help U.S. Reduce Foreign Oil Dependence by Running More Alt-Fuel Vehicles

October 23, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO – Fleet owners could play an increasingly important role in helping kickstart the alternative-fuel revolution, according to author Edwin Black in the San Francisco Chronicle. He contends that in the absence of a federal Manhattan Project initiative to push the market away from dependence on imported oil, the public must turn not just to the White House or the state capitol but also to the largest fleet owners in the country. Fleets have volume purchasing power that manufacturers can’t ignore. For instance, the carrier company UPS deploys about 80,000 trucks daily as it makes 13 million deliveries every 24 hours. But, only about 1,000 of UPS’ fleet run on compressed natural gas as of this past summer. Within Federal Express’ 70,000-vehicle fleet, the company operated 30,000 medium-duty trucks, of which fewer than 100 were hybrid diesel as of this summer.About 6 million vehicles are owned by private commercial fleets such as Sysco, Wal-Mart, Halliburton, and Frito-Lay. City, state, and federal agencies, as well as universities, comprise just a fraction of America’s 38,000 private fleets, according to Black. If fleet managers adopted a green fleet initiative, that could spark the race among truck and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to be the first to fill those orders. The federal government itself maintains America’s single largest fleet at about 600,000 vehicles. And, the Energy Policy Act, passed after the first Gulf War, mandates that all federal agencies reduce oil dependence by ensuring that 75 percent of new-vehicle purchases use alternative fuels.
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