MIAMI -- Ryder System Inc. announced it has signed its first Flex-to-Green lease agreement with media firm Source Interlink Companies Inc. With a Flex-to-Green lease for seven diesel-powered vehicles, Source Interlink will have the option to exchange these vehicles for natural gas-powered vehicles.

“With a fleet of over 300 vehicles that operate across the country as part of Source Interlink’s sales, services and logistics division, fuel volatility and cost is an important issue for us,” said Jim Tate, senior vice president of operations for Source Interlink Distribution. “The option of using a cheaper and readily available fuel supply such as natural gas to power our vehicles and mitigate fuel costs is an attractive avenue we’d like to explore. We appreciate the flexibility that Ryder makes available through the Flex-to-Green lease offering, which will allow us to pilot alternative fuel vehicles within our fleet.”

 Ryder’s alternative fuel fleet includes compressed and liquid natural gas vehicles -- which are offered in certain markets in California, Arizona and Michigan -- as well as hybrid vehicles that are available in most U.S. markets. 

Ryder became the first fleet provider to offer heavy-duty natural gas vehicles for the leasing and rental industry through a natural gas vehicle project with the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) in Southern California. In April 2010, Ryder announced a partnership with the SANBAG Board to take delivery of 202 heavy-duty, natural gas-powered vehicles that would be made available to companies for short-term rentals, long-term leases or Ryder’s dedicated logistics services. 

As part of the Southern California project, Ryder is building two natural gas refueling stations. Ryder is also equipping three maintenance facilities – located in Fontana, Orange and Rancho Dominguez -- for the indoor servicing of natural gas vehicles.

One of Source Interlink’s largest distribution centers is in Ontario, Calif. The proximity of its distribution operations to Ryder’s fueling and maintenance infrastructure was a key factor supporting the decision to sign a Flex-to-Green lease.

“We recognize there is a growing need for sustainable transportation solutions, not only as companies search for ways to mitigate fuel costs but also as they work to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Robert Sanchez, president of global fleet management solutions for Ryder. “We’ve seen great interest from our customers for natural gas vehicles across all markets and will continue to pursue the expansion of our alternative fuel vehicle offering to meet our customers’ needs.” 

Headquartered in Bonita Springs, Fla., Source Interlink Companies Inc. is a major publisher of magazines and online content.