Currently, fuel prices have leveled out; however, proactive fleet managers have been and will continue to look for ways to reduce fuel expenses. Several commercial fleets have switched to more fuel-efficient vehicles or right-sized existing units while others have looked to alternative fuels or driver training to keep fuel expenses out of the “red” at budget review.

Fleets Switch to More Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Frito-Lay North America is adding more  than 1,200 fuel-efficient Sprinter vehicles to its nationwide fleet, helping the company improve miles per gallon, continue cutting energy costs, and reduce emissions. The new additions make up 10 percent of the Plano, Texas-based company’s fleet of vehicles that transport snack food products daily across the U.S.

The new Sprinter vehicles improve gas mileage to 17 mpg — more than 50 percent over current route trucks, according to Frito-Lay. The improved mpg and more efficient 3.0L diesel engines translate to a 28-percent reduction of CO2 emissions per vehicle.

“Lowering fuel consumption is one approach to reduce costs and our environmental impact, but in the future, new emerging technologies and advances in hybrids, fuel cells, and hydrogen might move us away from gasoline altogether,” said Mike O’Connell, director, fleet, Frito-Lay North America.

Owens Corning, a Toledo, Ohio-based supplier of building materials systems and glass fiber reinforcements, has begun systematically measuring and reducing fleet greenhouse gas emissions. To cut fuel consumption and operating costs, improve efficiency, and reduce emissions from North American sales fleet vehicles, the company joined the PHH GreenFleet program, developed by PHH Arval and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Through PHH GreenFleet, Owens Corning incorporated more efficient vehicles into its fleet. Early steps included eliminating the company’s least fuel-efficient vehicles, right-sizing trucks and SUVs, and incorporating more front-wheel drive and four-cylinder engine vehicles. Owens Corning expects to increase fleet average mpg by 18 percent, reduce greenhouse emissions by 15 percent, and trim projected operating costs by 8 percent.

Parcel Delivery Companies Deploy Alt-Fuel Vehicles

UPS deployed 300 new CNG-powered delivery trucks to seven cities in Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, and California. The vehicles joined more than 800 UPS CNG fleet vehicles already in worldwide use.

The CNG vehicles, part of an order placed May 2008, allow UPS to further reduce its dependence on traditional fossil fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, and lower its carbon footprint. UPS already operates the largest private fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles in its industry — 1,819 total, including these additions.

The CNG truck bodies are identical externally to the signature-brown trucks that comprise the UPS fleet. Marked with CNG decals, the trucks are expected to yield a 20-percent emissions reduction over the cleanest diesel engines available in the market today, according to the company.
In its alternative-fuel fleet, UPS has deployed CNG, liquefied natural gas, propane, electric, and hybrid-electric vehicles in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Brazil, Chile, Korea, and the United Kingdom. The company also announced the purchase of seven hydraulic hybrid delivery vehicles and has researched hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

By 2020, FedEx Corp. plans to improve the fuel efficiency of its FedEx Express vehicle fleet by 20 percent. The new goal was outlined in the FedEx 2008 Global Citizenship Report. Since 2005, FedEx has improved FedEx Express vehicle fuel efficiency by 13.7 percent, reducing vehicle carbon emissions by almost 1 billion lbs.

“FedEx recognizes one of the most responsible steps we and the industrial sector can take for our businesses, society, and the environment is reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Fred Smith, FedEx Corp. chairman, president, and CEO.

FedEx continues to make significant progress toward achieving its fuel efficiency goals by investing in more fuel-efficient vehicles and aircraft facilities, including:

  • FedEx E700 hybrid-electric trucks, which improve fuel economy by 42 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 25 percent, and cut particulate pollution by 96 percent compared to conventional vehicles.
  • Optimized delivery routes to ensure the most efficient vehicle size is used on each route. As a result of these efforts, more than 25 percent of the FedEx Express fleet has been converted to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, saving more than 45 million gallons of fuel in the past three years.

One Fleet Uses Cow Waste to Fuel Vehicles

At the World Agricultural Fair, Lindsay, Calif.-based representatives of Hilarides Dairy announced the company is converting cow waste into fuel to power trucks and generators while minimizing pollution and diversifying energy sources.

Rob Hilarides, owner, received a $600,000 grant from the California Air Resources Board Alternative Fuel Incentive Program, which subsidizes projects facilitating greater use of non-petroleum fuels.

“It’s energy projects like this that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get us off our dependency of foreign oil,” said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. “It also addresses sources of long-term air and water pollution problems.”

Hilarides converted two heavy-duty diesel trucks to run on clean-burning bio-methane produced from his cows’ manure. Using an anaerobic-lagoon digester that processes the run-off from nearly 10,000 cows, the project generates 226,000 cubic-feet of biogas per day and enough fuel to run two heavy-duty trucks making daily runs. The dairy’s diesel consumption has been reduced by 650 gallons per day. Hilarides said he intends to convert five pickup trucks to use the biogas.

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About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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