Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Green Initiatives Flourish in Commercial Truck Fleets

November 2009, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Lauren Fletcher & Grace Lauron

Adding compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, hybrid-electric delivery trucks, hydrogen-injected trucks, and all-electric vehicles, and utilizing biodiesel in service trucks are just a few ways commercial truck fleets are implementing green fleet initiatives.

These green efforts have provided such positive outcomes as increased fuel efficiency and lowered greenhouse gas emissions. Several truck fleets are seeing positive outcomes as a result of green initiatives.

AT&T Invests in CNG Fleet

AT&T will convert 600 Ford E-Series vans to compressed natural gas (CNG) technology through BAF Technologies, a provider of natural gas vehicle upfits.

AT&T expects to purchase about 8,000 CNG vehicles for an estimated $350 million as part of a $565 million, long-term strategy to deploy more than 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles over the next 10 years. The new deployments will bring AT&T's alternative-fuel fleet to more than 15,000 vehicles by 2019.

"AT&T's commitment to alternative-fuel vehicles reflects our long-term goal to minimize dependence on imported sources of fuel and explore new automotive technologies," said Charlene Lake, AT&T chief sustainability officer.

The vehicles will use the BAF CapComp system, a proprietary, EPA-certified CNG fuel system. CNG vehicles are expected to emit approximately 25-percent less greenhouse gas emissions than those powered by gasoline.

AT&T will work with natural gas service providers to build up to 40 new CNG fueling stations across its operating region, providing a fueling infrastructure for the new vehicles.

In addition to deploying CNG vehicles, AT&T has committed to replacing retiring gasoline-powered passenger vehicles in its fleet with alternative-fuel models. AT&T expects to replace 7,100 passenger cars over the next 10 years. The alternative-fuel vehicles, used by employees in a variety of functions across AT&T's operations, are expected to offer up to a 39-percent improvement in fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 29 percent.

During the initial deployment phase, gasoline-powered passenger vehicles will be replaced with hybrid models. As technologies evolve, additional alternative-fuel vehicle types will be considered. A "Green Technology" insignia will identify AT&T's alternative-fuel vehicles.

UPS Completes Deployment of 300 New 'Green' Trucks

UPS deployed 300 new delivery trucks powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) to seven cities in Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, and California. The units join more than 800 CNG vehicles already in use by UPS worldwide.

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

The new CNG trucks are deployed to Denver (43); Atlanta (46); Oklahoma City (100), and four cities in California: Sacramento (21), San Ramon (63), Los Angeles (9), and Ontario (18).

The CNG truck bodies are identical externally to the signature-brown trucks that comprise the UPS fleet. Marked with decals as CNG vehicles, the trucks are expected to yield a 20-percent emissions reduction over the cleanest diesel engines available in the market today.

In its global alternative-fuel fleet, UPS deployed CNG, liquefied natural gas, propane, electric, and hybrid-electric vehicles in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Brazil, Chile, Korea, and the U.K. The company also announced the purchase of seven hydraulic hybrid delivery vehicles and has conducted research with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Smith Delivers 1st Electric Truck to Major U.S. Corporations

Four major U.S. corporations and two utility companies took delivery of the Smith Newton on-road electric truck. Coca-Cola, Staples, Frito-Lay, AT&T, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), and Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) are the first U.S. Newton customers.

Initially launched in the U.K. in 2005, the trucks, developed by Smith Electric Vehicles, were handed over at an official ceremony in Washington, D.C. last summer.

Powered by the latest lithium-ion batteries and a 120kw electric motor, the Smith Newton has a top speed of 50 mph and a range in excess of 100 miles on a full charge. It can be recharged in six hours, according to the company.

Emissions-free, the Smith Newton runs without noise or vibration, and reclaims electric energy during stop-start urban operations through regenerative braking.

Avista Service Trucks to Use Biodiesel

Spokane, Wash.-based Avista Corp. has begun testing the use of biodiesel in four service trucks in an ongoing effort to "green its fleet." A partnership with Inland Empire Oilseeds (IEO) and Whitley Fuel has made the fuel available locally, and results show the clean-burning alternative fuel may be a successful long-term solution for Avista and others, according to Avista.

Avista began testing use of the B-20 blend in two flatbeds, a line truck, and a bucket truck in August, according to company officials.

Oncor Unveils Hybrid-Powered Bucket Trucks

Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC added two new hybrid-powered bucket trucks to its fleet, following participation in a 2006 trial of the hybrid trucks in the field, organized by CALSTART, an organization dedicated to supporting a clean transportation industry.

The Dallas-based utility added the new trucks to coincide with the launch of a new Web site, www.BetterTexas.com, to highlight small changes the electric company has implemented to save on costs.

Oncor was one of 14 utility companies included in the trial. The trial proved the hybrid-powered bucket trucks, which alternate between diesel fuel and battery power to operate, achieve up to 60 percent in fuel savings. In addition to improved on-road fuel efficiency, most savings are derived from off-engine operation of the truck's bucket or aerial devices at the jobsite.

Other benefits include less maintenance, quieter operation at jobsites, and reduced emissions.

Oncor operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, delivering power to approximately 3 million homes and businesses.

Powers' Green Plan Includes Hybrid & Biodiesel Medium-Duty Trucks

Powers Distributing Co., a Michigan-based beverage distributor, currently operates 15 International DuraStar hybrid medium-duty trucks in its fleet. The trucks were purchased from Tri-County International Trucks Inc., Navistar International Corp.'s southeast Michigan franchise for the International line of diesel trucks.

The purchase is part of a broader commitment by Powers Distributing to "green" its fleet. In 2008, the company switched its fleet of more than 50 trucks from regular diesel to biodiesel.

The International DuraStar Hybrid trucks are expected to increase diesel fuel economy from 25 percent to 40 percent in standard in-city pickup and delivery applications, Tri-County International Trucks said.

Powers Distributing Co. distributes about 100 beverage products - including Miller, Coors, Heineken, and Guinness beers - to bar, restaurant, and retail clients. WT

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