Schindler chose the Prius hybrid-electric sedan for its reduced emissions and safety features.

Schindler chose the Prius hybrid-electric sedan for its reduced emissions and safety features. 

Corporations around the globe are integrating sustainability and “green” initiatives into their day-to-day operations. And, Schindler Elevator, a global manufacturer of elevators, escalators, and moving walks, is one of the good corporate citizens making sustainability a primary goal for its worldwide operations.

Schindler Elevator operates a fleet of more than 2,600 vehicles in North America, and out of that total, 500 are sedans used by its salespeople and managers.

One way the company is making its operations more sustainable is by replacing the 500 sedans in its fleet — 2009 and 2010 model-year Ford Fusion SE and SEL models —with Toyota’s Prius Two hybrid-electric sedans over the next three to four years. Green Fleet spoke with John Impellizzeri, vice president of supply chain for Schindler North America, about the switch to the Prius and the benefits the company expects to reap.

Although optimizing fleet efficiency is important to Schindler, the company’s main reason for choosing the Prius is to improve sustainability, according to Impellizzeri.

“The primary motivator was not total cost of ownership (TCO),” Impellizzeri said. “We acquire vehicles; we don’t lease them. While the acquisition cost of the Prius might be a bit higher, we’re making that up on fuel consumption and resale. Essentially, it was break-even from a TCO perspective. It was more about efficiency, safety, and sustainability.”

The company said the replacement cycle for vehicles in its sales fleet is based on age and mileage, specifically three years and 75,000 miles. By replacing the existing sedans in its sales fleet with the new Prius sedans, Schindler expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 42 percent.

“We’re looking at going from 191 to 111 grams per kilogram in CO2 emissions,” Impellizzeri said. “We view the fleet as another tool for us to optimize efficiency and safety on all fronts. Our fleet will continue to evolve as our needs change. Our goal is to provide our employees with the safest, greenest options possible to satisfy our customer requirements. [The fleet is] not the ‘tail wagging the dog.’ It’s just one of the tools in the toolbox.”

In addition to reduced CO2 emissions, Schindler looked at two other key factors when choosing a new sedan: fuel economy and safety.

“With published fuel-efficiency numbers of 50 mpg, [fuel economy] was absolutely part of our decision-making process,” Impellizzeri said. “But, again, we want to be as conscious of our carbon footprint as possible with these models, as well as their safety record. They will be equipped with dual seat-mounted side air bags. Safety trumps everything in our business. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees and our riding public on our elevators and escalators. At every management committee meeting, safety is on the agenda.”

Replacing the 500 sedans with hybrid-electric models is Schindler’s most recent fleet sustainability effort, but not its only one. Out of the 2,600 vehicles in its fleet, 1,000 are Ford Transit Connect vans, which the company brought in a few years ago to replace large trucks it was operating at the time. Doing so reduced that fleet segment’s emissions by 100 percent, according to Schindler.

Vehicle Selection

Schindler consulted with its fleet management services provider, ARI, when looking for a new vehicle, but the global elevator company had already been eyeing the Prius, according to Impellizzeri. Although the company owns rather than leases its vehicles, it works with ARI to manage many aspects of its fleet, including maintenance, its fuel card program, vehicle acquisitions, remarketing, and fleet-related administrative tasks.

To personally evaluate the Prius prior to selection, Impellizzeri took one home for a three-week field test.

Since these vehicles will be used by the company’s salespeople, upfitting was not a concern beyond selecting certain optional features.

As of press time, the company expected to receive its first order of 2013-MY Prius sedans in April or May, and had more than 100 on order. Impellizzeri said the company’s goal is to have between 130 and 150 Prius sedans on the road by the end of 2013.

Commitment to Corporate Sustainability

Schindler’s North American HQ recently received a multi-million dollar sustainable renovation, including the addition of a 21,000-sq. ft. solar array. The company also recently broke ground on a new, sustainable manufacturing facility in Hanover, Pa., that is expected to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Another innovation is the company’s Solar Elevator, which offers energy savings of 50 percent per year compared to a conventional model. Beyond sustainable facilities and products, Schindler is one of four main companies supporting Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered airplane to make an international flight.

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

View Bio