Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Fleets Go Green Without Going Broke

May 2008, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

As more fleets express interest in acquiring alternative-fuel vehicles to decrease greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), reduce carbon footprints, and increase fuel efficiency, the concern is how to do so without adversely affecting the bottom line.

Many U.S. fleets can go green without going broke by investigating the options before implementing alternative-fuel vehicles (AFV) into their fleets, running pilot tests, closely monitoring vehicle performance, and utilizing government grant programs. Read on to find out how some of the biggest fleets in the nation have successfully integrated “environmentally conscious vehicles” into their fleets.

100 Hybrid Sedans Help Verizon’s Fleet Get Greener

In metropolitan areas across the country, Verizon is adding “green” to the company’s traditional red and black colors. One hundred hybrid sedans are replacing gasoline-powered vehicles in Verizon’s fleet, for an estimated annual reduction in carbon emissions of 2.63 metric tons per vehicle.

The Toyota Prius sedans being added to Verizon’s fleet can travel nearly double the miles per gallon and emit less than half the carbon of most traditional sedans.

Last year, Verizon began using 13 specially designed service vans with environmentally friendly hybrid-engine systems in Maryland and Texas. No domestic motor vehicle manufacturer currently makes hybrid vehicles in the van category, so Verizon worked closely with a company that specializes in hybrid power and retrofitted the new vehicles to Verizon’s specifications.

“We reduced greenhouse gas emissions across our operations by more than 334,000 metric tons, which equates to keeping more than 72,000 cars off the roads for a year,” said Dan Mead, president of Verizon Services Corp., which manages Verizon’s fleet, buildings, and various financial operations, such as collections and printing bills. Mead is also co-chair of Verizon’s Corporate Responsibility and Workplace Culture Council.

Verizon’s commitment to green energy practices includes pursuing network equipment and building energy-reduction initiatives; using alternative energy sources in the network, buildings, and vehicle fleet; and promoting the company’s technology as an alternative to travel, among other efforts.

Other examples are in New Jersey and Texas, where Verizon has pilot-tested the use of B-20 biodiesel to power service vehicles.

UPS Adds 306 Alternative-Fuel Vehicles to Fleet

UPS is another trailblazer in the use of alternative-fuel vehicles. The company recently placed an order for 167 compressed natural gas (CNG) delivery trucks and took delivery of 139 new propane delivery trucks for its North American delivery service. In addition, the company has launched an initiative to use biodiesel fuel in ground support vehicles at its air hub in Louisville, Ky.

UPS’ worldwide AFV fleet includes 1,629 vehicles, the largest private fleet in the transportation industry. The fleet includes CNG, liquefied natural gas (LNG), propane, electric, and hybrid-electric vehicles. UPS already operates 800 CNG delivery trucks in the U.S. and plans to place the new CNG vehicles in Dallas; Atlanta; Los Angeles; and Ontario, San Ramon, and Fresno, Calif.

The propane vehicles will join the nearly 600 propane trucks already operating in Canada and Mexico. The propane and CNG trucks currently in the UPS fleet were converted from gasoline and diesel vehicles in the 1980s to run on alternative fuels. The new trucks are originally manufactured for alternative-fuel use. The chassis for the CNG trucks are purchased in two sizes from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.

Engines are manufactured by Cummins Westport and are expected to yield a 20-percent emissions reduction and 10-percent improvement in fuel economy over the cleanest diesel engines available in the market today. The new propane-powered vehicles were manufactured by Workhorse Custom Chassis and feature the latest technology in clean-burning propane engines provided by Baytech Corp.

The 139 new propane trucks are expected to reduce UPS’ carbon dioxide emissions by a total of 254 metric tons per year, the equivalent weight of 80 UPS trucks. This would be a 35-percent improvement compared to conventional gas engines. Additionally, particulate matter emitted from vehicles will be virtually eliminated.

“While there’s a great deal of interest in the research we’re doing with new types of hybrids, 70 years of testing alternative-fuel vehicles has taught us there are technologies that can effectively reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as well as our carbon footprint,” said Robert Hall, UPS’ director of vehicle engineering. “Adding this many propane and CNG vehicles is going to have a very positive impact.”

The UPS propane vehicles will run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) provided at eight onsite fuelling stations at UPS facilities in Canada. LPG is derived from petroleum during oil or natural gas processing and is cleaner-burning than regular gasoline.

The biodiesel initiative in Louisville is funded with the support of a $515,000 federal grant offsetting some of the cost of building a fuel infrastructure at the airport. The infrastructure will provide B-5, a 5-percent biodiesel blend, to operate 366 UPS ground support vehicles.



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