Beer distributor J.J. Taylor Companies, Inc. announced it will replace its Tampa-based fleet with compressed natural gas (CNG) tractors as part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability, made possible in part by lease financing provided by PHH FirstFleet – a division of PHH Arval. It’s one of the first fair market value leases for a CNG vehicle in the United States, according to the company.

“We’ve been working to reduce our carbon footprint over the past five years, so the change to CNG is a natural progression,” said Jose Rivera, vice president of finance/administration, of J.J. Taylor Companies. “CNG has near-zero emissions and is therefore less harmful to the environment. It also has a lower cost on a Diesel Gallon Equivalent basis, and CNG vehicles are markedly quieter than their diesel counterparts. We’re thrilled to partner with PHH FirstFleet and others to make it happen.”

J.J. Taylor Companies has ordered 43 Freightliner Business Class M2 112 CNG tractors. The company plans to replace its entire 95-unit Tampa-based fleet within the next 36 months. Part of the transition includes the creation of a private CNG fueling station. The tractors are arriving in Tampa and will start operating this month, once the fueling station is completed. Plans for a second station and conversion of the company’s fleet – 75 units – in Fort Myers are underway.

“This is one of the first full facility conversions of an entire compressed natural gas fleet in the Southeast,” said Rob Stowers, senior vice president, Truck and Equipment Leasing at PHH FirstFleet. “We’re excited to team up with J.J. Taylor Companies to help them make their fleet more efficient. Often companies feel sustainability initiatives are too expensive to pursue, but our partnership demonstrates there are alternative ways to make it happen. We anticipate that this will be one of many such conversions as we move forward.”

J.J. Taylor acquired the Freightliner tractors through Tampa Truck Center, LLC and they are powered by a Cummins-Westport 8.9L ISL-G engine and an Allison 3000Hs transmission. Vocational Energy, LLC, out of Fontana, Calif., is building the CNG fueling station.

J.J. Taylor Companies will use the CNG vehicles in daily delivery operations in the company’s territory covering Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. In the future, the fleet will cover a total of 17 Florida counties.