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.






Coca-Cola Enterprises Expands Alternative-Fuel Truck Fleet

Coca-Cola Enterprises continues to expand its green fleet in 2008. It will soon purchase 120 new trucks powered by Eaton Corp.’s hybrid-electric drivetrain systems. The Coca-Cola order represents the largest North American commercial order to date for Eaton’s hybrid systems and follows the beverage company’s purchase of 20 trucks with Eaton hybrid power systems in 2007.

Extensive testing and evaluations conducted by Coca-Cola Enterprises found that Eaton’s hybrid-electric, drivetrain-equipped trucks decreased emissions by roughly 32 percent and fuel consumption by up to 37 percent compared to conventionally-powered trucks in Coca-Cola’s current fleet. Coca-Cola also reported lower maintenance costs on the hybrid-powered trucks.

“In addition to the environmental advantages hybrid vehicles deliver, we are also happy to report driver acceptance has been very favorable, especially in high start-and-stop applications,” said Dave Leasure, corporate director of fleet procurement for Coca-Cola Enterprises. “The hybrid drive units have been performing very well in communicating with the electronic engines, and provides adequate torque and horsepower when needed.”

Eaton employs parallel-type, diesel-electric hybrid architecture with Eaton’s Fuller UltraShift automated transmission. It incorporates an electric motor/generator between the output of an automated clutch and input of the transmission. The system recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries.

When electric torque is blended with engine torque, the stored energy is used to improve fuel economy and vehicle performance for a given speed or used to operate the vehicle with electric power only. The system can also be designed to provide energy for use during engine-off worksite operations, further reducing noise, emissions, and fuel costs.

“We’ve been working with Coca-Cola Enterprises since 2003 to assess our systems,” said Dimitri Kazarinoff, general manager for emerging technologies at Eaton’s Truck Group. “We look forward to working with them to deploy the systems into their transportation network.”

State Farm Commended for its Green Fleet

State Farm Insurance Co. has a continuing focus of being “greener.” The company operated the fourth-largest non-governmental alternative-fuel commercial fleet in the United States during 2007 and ranked 18th out of 100 groups in America that have invested in fleet vehicles to help reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution.

Nationwide, State Farm has 4,003 flex-fuel, 143 hybrid-electric, and two biodiesel vehicles either in service or already ordered. Of those, 95 flex-fuel, 14 hybrid-electric, and one of the biodiesel vehicles are in Bloomington, Ill.

The alternative-fuel fleet’s total represents about 29 percent of the company’s 14,300 vehicles. Eventually, 60 percent of the company’s new vehicles will be flex-fuel, hybrid-electric, or four-cylinder.

“We’re really trying to do what we can to keep our fuel expenses down and be green,” said Dick Malcom, State Farm fleet administrator.

Because of the company’s alternative-fuel fleet vehicles, the switch from six cylinders to four cylinders, and a reduction in the number of cars in some locations, State Farm used 87,000 fewer gallons of gasoline.

Wal-Mart Adds LNG-Fueled Trucks to California Fleet

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ramped up its alt-fuel use recently by joining forces with Westport Innovations to introduce four LNG-fueled Peterbilt 386 trucks into the Wal-Mart truck fleet based at the company distribution center in Apple Valley, Calif.

This project belongs to Wal-Mart’s “Sustainability 360” program, which is expected to reduce the company’s fleet vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and NOx emissions by 30-50 percent.

The project will receive partial funding from the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District’s Mobile Source Emission Reductions Competitive Bidding Program.

Wal-Mart is also trying to cut its truck fuel usage 25 percent by 2010, which would mean a significant reduction in CO2 — about the same as taking 67,744 cars off the road.

Wal-Mart is reducing truck fuel use by promoting the development, with  Great Dane Trailers, of a more aerodynamic trailer, and with investments in hybrid diesel-electric engine development.

U.S. Air Conditioning Switches to Natural Gas for Delivery Fleet

In 2005, U.S. Air Conditioning began using natural gas in its parts delivery trucks, improving delivery times throughout the Los Angeles metro area. Since natural gas vehicles are allowed to drive in the carpool lanes, it made for quicker deliveries.

Last year, U.S. Air Conditioning expanded the use of natural gas to its larger stake bed trucks. The company currently operates 17 stake bed trucks on natural gas with a range of more than 300 miles on one tank.

Also last year, the company finished the construction of its own CNG station, allowing the company to refuel trucks overnight while being loaded for the next day’s deliveries.

Success Stories

The stories of Verizon, UPS, Wal-Mart, State Farm, and others, and their successful use of alternative-fuel vehicles continue to encourage more companies to go green.

As these companies look to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions, reduce their carbon footprints, and increase fuel efficiency, their parallel goal will be to run cost-conscious, effective programs.