Going green can also mean saving green. A multipronged approach that considers the array of technologies, alternative fuels, and vehicle applications often offers the best solution in creating a green fleet.

E85 Reduces Vehicle Carbon Footprint

E85 is one of the most widely promoted fuel-saving technologies. Since a large component of E85 ethanol is plant-based alcohol, blends of the fuel can help substantially reduce a vehicle’s “carbon footprint.” An increasing number of vehicles are “flex-fuel” capable; they can burn E85 or straight gasoline, or a combination of the two, without vehicle modifications.

Biodiesel Cuts Petroleum Use

The most common biodiesel fuel is B-20, comprising 20-percent vegetable oil and 80-percent petroleum diesel. An engine must be designed or modified for biodiesel use. Required modifications are relatively simple, and many can be done with aftermarket equipment. Biodiesel-capable engines experience no difference in performance or fuel economy than conventional gasoline engines.

Matching Vehicles to Applications

Another strategy that can reduce fuel usage matches vehicles to their functions. For example, while a small hatchback could make sense for local deliveries, it may lack the power to work in a mountainous area. If a small engine is forced to work hard all the time, fuel economy suffers and the vehicle is not as reliable.

Hybrid vehicles are ideally suited to heavy, dense city traffic and provide excellent fuel mileage in urban settings. On long highway runs, however, the hybrid’s acceleration and torque are minimized. A less-expensive straight gasoline-powered vehicle or even a diesel vehicle might perform as well.

To maximize fuel efficiency, fleets might consider purchasing a diversity of vehicle types, rather than large numbers of similar vehicles that must be adapted to specific needs.