PHILADELPHIA - Aramark Uniform Services (AUS) announced it is the first commercial uniform provider to introduce hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) into its national fleet. The initial roll out of 25 hybrid stepvans is currently underway and by spring of 2011, a total of 78 HEVs will be rolling along AUS service routes in 28 states.

The launch was made possible by a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Maryland Clean Cities Program which is dedicated to stimulating alternative fuel and advanced technology in the transportation sector. Each hybrid - when compared to a standard diesel model - reduces total greenhouse gases emissions by 30 percent and generates fuel efficiency gains between 20 to 40 percent. As a result, AUS anticipates annual fuel savings will top 500 gallons per each HEV.

"Our team continues to proactively introduce environmentally sound practices in all of our operations," said Brad Drummond, president of Aramark Uniform Services. "The addition of hybrid technology to our fleet services will complement all of our programs designed to reduce our environmental impact."

The HEVs use the combination of an energy-efficient diesel engine and a battery-driven electric motor. When traveling under 30 miles-per-hour, the hybrids run on electricity. When the speed increases, the vehicles shift over to diesel-engine-use. The HEVs are being deployed to mostly urban areas with stop-and-go traffic and limited highway miles, taking advantage of the regenerative braking system.

"We are proud to be the first commercial uniform provider awarded funding. Energy conservation has always been AUS' focus and the fleet's expansion with hybrids is but one part of our comprehensive fleet management program," said Manuel Nieto, vice president of Operations Support.

Currently his team is implementing its route-optimization program. Using GPS devices in each fleet vehicle and routing software, AUS has sorted client accounts by their similar locations and mapped out the most efficient and effective travel route between them. By eliminating service overlaps, AUS has reduced travel time, total number of miles traveled, and corresponding fuel consumption.

Aramark is ranked No. 26 on Automotive Fleet's Top 300 Commercial Fleets listing for 2010.