The Coca-Cola Company plans to more than double the number of hybrid full-size vans in its service fleet by early 2015 and eventually reach a 10 percent replacement level for the fleet, the company's fleet manager told AutomotiveFleet.com.
Coca-Cola is adding 140 additional gasoline-electric hybrid Chevrolet Express 3500 vans by early 2015 to go with the 103 it had in the fleet at the end of 2013, said Tony Eiermann, Coca-Cola's fleet manager of assets and value management. Coca-Cola is partnering with XL Hybrids to add the XL3 parallel hybrid-electric drive system.
The company's investment in the conversions has added more than 20 percent to the range the vehicles can travel on a single tank of gasoline. The system also reduces carbon emissions by about 20 percent, according to XL Hybrids.
After the initial order, Coca-Cola ordered 70 more converted vans in the spring and an additional 70 earlier this month. The company is now taking delivery of vans ordered in the spring. The vans will be assigned to Coca-Cola service technicians that make calls to repair vending and fountain machines serving the company's beverages.
The vans upfitted with the XL Hybrids system feature regenerative braking technology, which is charge-sustaining and doesn't require a plug. During operation, the van’s OEM engine continues to run with help from the XL3 electric motor, thereby using less fuel.
"The reason we went with this technology is because it's very simple," said Eiermann. "The biggest thing for Coca-Cola is if for any reason this system fails, we can still operate the van. It goes into a bypass mode."
The company can service the vans at any of its more than 200 fleet garages around the country by ordering readily-available replacement parts. The van's lithium-ion battery pack, for example, is sourced from Johnson Controls.
"From a fleet manager's perspective, having a low risk technical solution is a good selling point," said Clay Siegert, vice president and co-founder of XL Hybrids. "We source our hybrid components from large component suppliers, and have achieved a 99.9 percent vehicle uptime over 4 million miles with our customers."
The 240 hybrid vans are included within Coca-Cola's 3,600-vehicle service fleet. Coca-Cola also operates a delivery fleet of heavy-duty trucks. Coca-Cola operates about 26,000 on-road vehicles, including the single-axle and tandem-axle trailers.