Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

UPS Has an Alt-Fuel Ambition

September 2013, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

A delivery truck driver of one of UPS’ 96,176 vehicles worldwide — including delivery trucks, vans, tractors, and motorcycles — fuels a tractor with liquefied natural gas (LNG).
A delivery truck driver of one of UPS’ 96,176 vehicles worldwide — including delivery trucks, vans, tractors, and motorcycles — fuels a tractor with liquefied natural gas (LNG).

When it comes to sustainability, UPS delivers. Recently, the company set an ambitious goal to drive 1 billion miles using alt-fuel vehicles by 2017 — that’s more than double the previous goal of 400 million miles.

The 1-billion-alt-fuel-miles goal appears more ambitious, considering it took UPS employees 12 years to rack up 295 million miles in alt-fuel vehicles between 2000 and 2012. However, in 2012 alone, the growing alt-fuel fleet drove 49 million miles, a 43-percent increase, compared to 2011.

To support the 1-billion-alt-fuel-miles goal, UPS plans to add nearly 1,000 liquefied natural gas (LNG) tractors to its fleet in the next two years, expanding its current fleet of 2,700 alternative-fuel and technologically advanced vehicles. The fleet today includes all-electric, electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids, natural gas (LNG, compressed natural gas [CNG]), propane autogas, biomethane, and lightweight fuel-saving composite body vehicles. Driving 500 to 600 miles per day, the new LNG vehicles should make a solid contribution toward 1 billion miles.

Steve Leffin, director, UPS Global Sustainability.
Steve Leffin, director, UPS Global Sustainability.

“As part of its environmental strategy, UPS is always looking for ways to expand our options and increase efficiency — through our use of both technology and our alternative-fuel/advanced-technology vehicles,” said Steve Leffin, director, UPS Global Sustainability. “Vehicles represent approximately 35 percent of UPS’ carbon footprint, so the company is very committed to researching and using lower-emission alternative fuels.”

Tracking Progress

When it comes to tracking progress toward its billion-mile goal, Leffin said UPS takes an engineering approach to operations. With a host of IT systems for planning, tracking, and summarizing vehicle routing and travel, the company is able to closely monitor its progress.

“Our sustainability report is assured by Deloitte & Touche LLP and has been ‘checked’ by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) at the A+ Application Level,” Leffin said. “And, for the second consecutive year, UPS earned one of the highest CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) scores among all companies in the U.S., receiving 99 out of 100. We track these scores to ensure we’re a world-class leader in sustainability.”

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